Sometimes Blood Brothers shows are so chaotic the band can't get through a complete song; other times the group powers through its set without a musical snag. Most listeners would be hard pressed to tell the difference.
One of the hottest emerging faces in noise rock, the group plays a dizzying, hair-curling mixture of avant-hardcore and experimental punk that's propelled by two howling singers (in case you were wondering, they're not actually siblings). Just as the Brothers seem to be latching into a groove, abruptly the tempo is switched, throwing off listeners just when they start to think they know where a song's going.
"All of us have very short attention spans," vocalist Jordan Blilie explained. "We get very bored with things that start to sound the same, so our natural inclination is to try to f--- them up a bit."
As fun as it is to watch fans flailing out of time as they try to dance to songs like "Six Nightmares at the Pinball Masquerade" and "Cecilia and the Silhouette Saloon," what really makes the Blood Brothers rock is an abundance of youthful energy — three of the five members are under 22 — combined with a lack of angst.
"I like to think of it as aggressive music, but we're trying to take the testosterone out so it's not a complete, utter celebration of maledom," Blilie said. "A lot of our songs center around victims being victimized, but I wouldn't say the whole thing is necessarily angry. I wouldn't say we're tortured at all."
The Blood Brothers' third album, Burn Piano Island, Burn, will come out in March, and the bandmembers — Blilie, singer Johnny Whitney, guitarist Cody Votolato, bassist Morgan Henderson, drummer Mark Gajadhar — will remain on tour with the Used through January 20 unless someone gets severely injured (a distinct possibility for the Brothers). Live, the exuberant artists tend to get carried away by their own chaos, abusing themselves with as much force as they exert on their instruments.
"Once in Columbus, Ohio, Cody tried to fling his guitar around his body and catch it and keep playing, but when it flung around it hit Johnny right in the face," Blilie recalled. "He fell down and his face was gushing blood, and that was only the first song. It was very embarrassing and awkward, and since no one knew who we were, no one was really that impressed. So Johnny has to play the rest of the show with a towel on his face, and we had to take him to the emergency room afterwards to get stitched up."
Because of their mind-reeling sound, volatile performances and absurd lyrics, some listeners assume that the guys are acid casualties, pill-popping freaks or at least raving mental cases. Blilie laughs at such assessments.
"I just think it's funny that whenever people are presented with something that they may not be familiar with, they automatically assume there must be some sort of motive behind it other than just people writing songs," he said. "We've never ever been on drugs when we've written songs or recorded or played onstage. We're all fairly rational people, and the way we write songs is really very calculated and thought out."