In many ways, Butchers Blind is the quintessential local band. Pete Mancini and Paul Cianciaruso have known each other since grade school, and met Brian Reilly in high school. They were drawn together by common interests—Wilco, classic roots rock artists like The Band, and vinyl. “We’re kinda, like, record geeks,” Brian confesses.
The three originally formed a group called The Double Stops in 2007 and later re-formed as Butchers Blind. In 2009, they self-released a three-song CD, One More Time. Bill Herman of Paradiddle Records heard it and wanted more, eventually deciding to put out their new album, Play for the Films, and the band recorded nine songs with Mike Nugent in Huntington. The final result is a clean, organic recording that complements the starkly-honest songwriting.
The band is already back in the studio with plans for a new EP to be released in the beginning of next year. When asked what they wanted to do differently with this new project, Pete said their goal is to “get closer to the purest form.” They are going for a raw, live sound with minimal overdubs. This is interesting to hear from a band whose current album already calls to mind the well-played simplicity of a John Levanthal production.
You could say that “the purest form” is a theme Butchers Blind is striving for in their career, not just with this current release. Pete Mancini’s songwriting is uncomplicated and unpretentious. Play for the Films was inspired by the cross-country travel journals of his father, as well as his own travels. The songs on the album are bookended by short first-person readings that could be journal entries or letters home. They’re read in the same unaffected way the entire album is performed—leaving you with the feeling that you, too, have taken a journey.
Journeying is not an uncommon topic for musicians—for whom touring is often a part of life—but Butchers Blind is a little bit unique here, too. “We’ve tried to be a local band,” Pete explains. They’ve played at a lot of local bars, and grew up hearing music in this way. “But it’s really hard here, because cover bands are the only bands that get a following.” According to Pete, getting attention in a local scene already saturated with people trying to “make it” is even harder when you don’t play the songs everyone in the bar knows.
The band also has a problem with the “pay to play” atmosphere that pervades the local scene. It’s not uncommon for a promoter or club to book bands on the condition that they sell a certain number of tickets to their friends and fans—or pay the difference themselves if they don’t sell the required amount. At the end of the day, this leaves bands shelling out cash to play to people who already know them. All three members of Butchers Blind feel strongly that this is not the right way to run a show—either for the band or for the fans. Instead, “We’re trying to get in with other bands that we know and support each other,” Pete says. They’ve been playing shows with other local bands like Mars Cultivation Society, Grand Cannons and The Last Internationale. Community—in the purest form.
What’s next? The band is anticipating releasing their new EP around the beginning of 2012, and playing shows around the area in the meantime. Catch them on October 15th at Pianos in NYC. For more information on Butchers Blind, visit myspace.com/butchersblindmusic.