January 22, 2010 / GO Brooklyn / Fort Greene / Music / Checkin’ in with...

Life in a Blender makes the big time

The Brooklyn Paper
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Life in a Blender is the ultimate Brooklyn band. Nine members strong — the plurality playing horns and violins — and fronted by bona-fide wild man Don Rauf, the group has been cranking out Gothic-themed weirdness and rock and roll anthems against gentrification since the 1980s. When the band takes the stage at most venues, half the members spill into the audience. But on Jan. 30, Blender hits the big time with a gig at the always outstanding BAM Cafe. On the eve of that show, Rauf checked in with Brooklyn Paper Editor — and resident Blender fanatic — Gersh Kuntzman.

Q: There’s something of a Life in a Blender juggernaut going on right now.

A: It’s a juggernaut, all right. We’re wrapping up a new album called “Kill the Bottle.” And we have a new horn section. Maybe it’s not a tower of power, but it’s a brassy little teepee of sound. And there’s a guy in England who is putting together a tour. Our sensibility fits the English audience.

Q: Why?

A: They appreciate wit. The literate witty thing goes over great there.

Q: Yeah, over here, if a band tries to write interesting lyrics, they’re pretentious.

A: Pretentious? Moi? No, our lyrics are always trying to deflate pretentiousness. When you try to do something smart or clever, people think you’re full of yourself, but we’re completely absurd. We’re having a good time.

Q: And even though you’re huge in England, this BAM show is going to be cool.

A: It will be a big long sprawling set and it will be nice to bust out of the isolation tank-size room of Barbes, which is our favorite place to play. You can expect surprise guests, absurd ramblings and a puppet.

Q: I like the new song “Go To Man,” about a guy who will always “set you up” no matter what you need. It has a bit of that Warren Zevon international intrigue feel, like in “The Envoy.” And I like “Hoot Owl,” which is a bit of sci-fi camp, like the B52s channeling Vincent Price.

A: That’s our style. I always like what the New Yorker said about us…

Q: Wait a minute, you’re not going to read from the New Yorker, are you?

A: I am. “Life in a Blender is a long-running Brooklyn institution specializing in quirkily heartfelt pop that is both surreal and thought-provoking. Though rife with oddness, the band’s work hides moments of poignancy and introspection amidst the laughs.”

Q: OK, thank you, David Remnick. Obviously. Now, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention your greatest song, “What Happened to Smith,” which remains the best gentrification song ever. My favorite couplet is, “Some TV cop show producer wants me to move my automobile/Well, up your ass I hope your cellular phone you will conceal.” That’s a great rhyme. That’s a great image, too.

A: I lived on Smith Street when it was just bodegas. As soon as Patois opened up, it uncorked the big barrel of gentrification. Boom — everything changed. The landslide began. Community is important. On Feb. 20, I’m hosting a variety show at Freddy’s and all the profits will go to the “Save Freddy’s” Fund. Freddy’s really is the soul of that neighborhood. You rip out the soul and you have nothing but zombies moving in and then it soon changes to a ghost

Updated 5:16 pm, July 9, 2018
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