If you want people to dance, simply put on the new Icky Blossoms record.
That was my first impression after (finally) listening to the band’s new album. I had seen them perform multiple times and gotten hooked on tracks such as “Babes,” “Deep in the Throes” and “Sex and the Devil” (“About the rock ‘n’ roll devil, not the real one,” singer Sarah Bohling said), but the dance rock band’s self-titled album is great front-to-back.
Last week, I met with the members of Icky Blossoms — Bohling, Derek Presnall and Nik Fackler — over a round of PBRs at the Pizza Shoppe.
Icky Blossoms bloomed (flower pun!) out of Flowers Forever, the band Presnall created during a break from Tilly and the Wall.
Presnall had the desire to write and perform songs that were all his work from the ground up. But when he brought on Fackler and Bohling to perform with him, they started to make new songs.
“Icky Blossoms sprouted from the idea that we should start to write songs where the first thing is the groove,” Fackler said. “We always kept that in mind.”
Interestingly, the band is tapping into something that is becoming huge: electronic dance music. With European techno and rave music invading Lady Gaga songs, it makes sense that a band like Icky Blossoms would mix guitars and keyboards with Ableton Live-produced beats and music.
“The time is ripe to explore the dance and rock music world,” Presnall said. “We’ve all been interested in that.”
The band has a hip-hop style of writing music. A song might start with a sample (one particular sample was prevalent in many of their early songs) or a loop or just a simple groove. Someone will bring it to the table and then the other members add to it.
The only rule: It has to be “groovy.”
While sitting with the band, I can tell how music is in the forefront of their minds almost all time. Presnall began rocking out when “Bohemian Rhapsody” came on the radio (“This song never gets old,” he said) and Fackler would groove to songs and talked about his days as a rave DJ.
The band felt its big break was when Saddle Creek Records decided to sign the band for its first release. They also hooked up the group with producer Dave Sitek, a member of rock band TV on the Radio.
Icky Blossoms spent a month in Sitek’s house, recording during the day and writing songs and hanging out in his pool at night. He took their first attempts and demos and turned them into profesionally-produced tracks, especially their early samples and dance beats.
With all of the show lights and the Ableton-fueled beats and other computer-assisted music, the computer is like another member of the band. There’s so much they wouldn’t be able to do without it that the band worries something could go wrong.
“I’m afraid I can’t do that, Icky Blossoms,” Fackler said with a laugh, imitating HAL 9000 from “2001: A Space Odyssey.”
From here, the band is planning on touring in the fall, playing some opening gigs for The Mynabirds and performing at Maha Music Festival. They’re also self-producing several music videos. Eventually, they’d like to do an EP of new music.
As for live shows, all three said they’d been impressed by turnouts in other cities. I, for one, was amazed by the crowds at their shows at South by Southwest in in Austin, Texas.
“The ones we have played have been great. If you can have people stand and listen to your music, that’s an accomplishment,” Presnall said. “If you can get them to dance — well, we’ve been very fortunate.”