Blueheart Revival is blues band formed in the American traditional of rock and soulful jams who also just released their first album.
Jordan Levin recently had the chance to ask five questions of Bobby Thompson, guitarist/singer/songwriter of Blueheart Revival, a new blues rock band based in the DC/Virginia area. The band recently released their debut, Stone Feathers, album in September of 2014.
JL: Tell me a little bit about the new group. As a longtime musician, what do you intend to do differently?
Bobby Thompson: The group was formed from my desire to play with Tommy Lepson. He’s a legend in the Washington DC area, and his vocal style reminds me of Al Green and Otis Redding. We cut our first EP in his basement studio, and dubbed the band Blueheart Revival. He has a good amount of vintage gear so we were able to get an cool kind of analog sound.
We wanted to add a second guitar, so we brought Colin Thompson in on guitar in late 2013. He has a slide guitar style influenced by Derek Trucks and Sonny Landreth, and he has great ear for bringing more energy to the songs. We jumped into the studio in January 2014 and started to record what became ‘Stone Feathers’, our first full-length album.
As for doing something different, I knew from the start that having Tommy and Colin in the band that they would bring leadership qualities, since they both also lead solo projects. Some weight was lifted off me, as I also still have my solo band, and the group became cohesive. We let the music speak for us.
JL: What was the inspiration behind the new album?
Bobby Thompson: We inspire each other, and having a new group of guys inspired me to write more. Songs like ‘Get It By The Grace’ and ‘Morning Stranger’ came quick, with only a rehearsal before cutting the song. Other songs like ‘Setting Sun’ and ‘Until We Shine’ are heavily influenced by the blues masters. I wrote ‘Setting Sun’ while on the road in Texas, in 2012, when I played Austin City Limits Festival with Justin Jones. We had just opened for Gary Clark Jr, and a modern sensibility to classic blues rubbed off on Blueheart Revival. ‘Until We Shine’ came to me at 2am after a night of jamming with Steve Jacobs, Carey Bell’s guitarist.
Other tracks like ‘Early In The Morning’ and ‘Do Yourself a Favor’ came about through the blues tradition also. Colin and I listen to a lot of hill county blues, like RL Burnside and Junior Kimbrough. ‘Do Yourself a Favor’ came about from a weekend of listening to Junior and Otis Rush. Colin and I wrote ‘Get It By The Grace’ one day in his living room while drinking beers.
JL: Tell me a little bit about the background behind the band members.
Bobby Thompson: I’ve known Kurt and Gary for over 10 years, going back to the first incarnations of my solo band, so we have a good musical history. Tommy and Gary have worked together for quite some time in Tommy’s band, and Colin and Kurt toured Europe together as part of The Randy Thompson Band (Colin’s dad). When we all started playing together, it was already familiar. It feels like a family.
JL: As a new band, how do you plan on addressing the evolving industry? (people not buying albums anymore, streaming services, touring, etc.)
Bobby Thompson: People still buy CDs at our shows, mainly because our crowd is of the vinyl generation, which I believe is making a strong come back. I think people want a disc in their hands, that we can sign, and they can put in the CD players in their cars, but we are well aware of the changes in the digital scene. Our new album is only available online at iTunes and Amazon. We invested a lot of money into this album and we think it’s fair to get a return. Imagine if you made a movie, but no one went to the theaters to see it, and it only ended up online for free. You’re basically giving the product away. I don’t think that’s a good business plan.
JL: Any big upcoming plans? Big reveals? Big tours?
Bobby Thompson: We’re building a tour plan for 2015, starting with the east coast in the first few months, heading south to avoid the harsh northern winters. We hope to play festivals and Europe by next summer, and start cutting the second album in the spring. Who knows, maybe we’ll get picked up by an agency, once they see how serious we are about this.
“Setting Sun” by Blueheart Revival:
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