The Living Blue | Some Kind of Oddball

On their latest offering, Fire, Blood, Water, the four young members of Champaign, Ill.’s the Living Blue—Stephen Ucherek (vocals/guitars), Joe Prokop (guitars), Mark Schroder (drums), and Andrew Davidson (bass guitar)—sound wise beyond their years. The disc—their third, and the first on Minty Fresh Records—is an incredibly fresh and diverse offering, incorporating a variety of sounds and influences into a high-energy, pop-indie-punk shell. The diversity and talent are appreciated, as evidenced not only by the band’s consistently growing fan base, but also by upcoming tours with Dressy Bessy and Headlights. We caught up with Ucherek on the road.

Which singers most influenced your sound?

Tom Verlaine from Television. I like him a lot; he kind of wails and I love his lyrics. More recently, Ian McCulloch from Echo and the Bunnymen. Early on, Mick Jagger, that snarling over the blues rift. I’m into phrasing, taking two words and working them into a rift or something with a little bit of style or swagger. That’s why I like Mick Jagger; that’s what he would do. Instead of just singing a line, he would work in into a groove.

On certain songs on the CD, you sound as though you’re British.

That’s what everyone says. And that was a shock; we’ve never gotten that on any of the other records. I think it was my attack and the phrasing of the songs. That, and I have this overbite. That’s my explanation.

What was it like working with producer Adam Schmitt?

He is great to work with; he is a Nazi and a real stickler in the studio. He really digs into the stuff. But at this point in our career, with him at the helm, we can guarantee it will sound great; he can translate for us pretty well. There was a lot of energy with the last record; we cut like 14 songs in five days.

Do you read reviews of the album? Even the negative ones?

We read them all; we’re critical people ourselves. I don’t think people know what to think of us here in the States, or especially in the Midwest. I think a lot of times, in this day and age, [it’s hard] if you’re not 18 years old and playing hipster rock or Americana or whatever. It’s not like, “Here’s another emo band on Victory Records.” We are on Minty Fresh, which is this oddball label, and we are kind of oddball.

What’s next for the Living Blue?

Meeting new people, playing, and the whole adventure of it; I like traveling and getting it done. It gets lonely, but we get through it. It builds character.

We are going to tour like mad into late summer and all through fall. And keep pushing this record. In the meantime, between this tour and that, we are going to make our next record. We are crossing our fingers that our label will keep us, because they are going to Japan right now, and Australia.

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