Street Sounds: Cold Blood Club

Cold Blood Club members Kendra takes the stage while Hilary plays in the background. // BRIANNA SPAUSE // TTN
Cold Blood Club members Kendra takes the stage while Hilary plays in the background. // BRIANNA SPAUSE // TTN

And so it began. It was the late summer of 2011 in a New York City basement club, where front runners Tom Stuart and Kendra Jones performed with laptops. From there,
Cold Blood Club, the Brooklyn based indie rock outfit grew eight bodies strong and outgrew the N.Y. state lines.

Flash forward to last Friday night, where the eight-piece dance band gave Philadelphia’s own MilkBoy a twirl. It wasn’t until midnight when they went on, and filled the dark club with some energy.

The band was in town for the first time on that rainy night in order to expand their fan base. Three singles, including their newest “Down,” were released in 2013, both making waves in the New York music scene and securing interest until Cold Blood Club’s next album drops.

In order to avoid the low buzz of the bar scene, Tom and Kendra, along with violinist Hillary Davis gathered around the comfortingly clean sink of MilkBoy’s bathroom to speak with The Temple News on what the future holds for their traveling band of musicians.

THE TEMPLE NEWS: How have you guys been enjoying Philly so far?

Tom Stuart: I had a great steak downstairs, so first things first. And the cab accepted a credit card, so I guess what more could a girl dream for?

Kendra Jones: I’ve been here before and I like it. The last time I was here was for New Year’s Day and I saw The Mummers Parade.

Hillary Davis: You know what I love about Philly? I love that crazy mosaic garden shop on South Street.

TTN: What’s the deal with your upcoming album?

HD: Ha! We don’t know. You’re asking all the hard questions. It has a name – it’s called Tear Down the Maps.

TS: We’re working on it right now, and it’s a process. We’ve been turning this from a studio project, so to speak, into a live group. So we’ve really been focusing on that aspect as well as whether or not the songs were composed and arranged correctly. We’re now transitioning into the final project. And in the interim we have been really keen towards putting out singles like we did last year. I feel like it’s a lot more representative of how we sound if you listen to “Down” – the 2013 single, not the track off of the EP – it’s very indicative of how we’ve changed.

HD: When you have eight live bodies playing actual instruments, it takes a lot longer to come up with a finished product.

TS: We don’t have someone like John Williams sitting there orchestrating out the parts, so there has to be a lot of communication.

H: It’s a little bit more of a detailed process, which takes time.

TS: And the virtue of playing the kind of music that we want to play, that’s very groove-oriented, is that you just have to work on it until it flows.

TTN: I heard that you guys really like to dance?

TS: What makes you say that?

TTN: It’s actually listed all over your website that you “like to groove.”

HD: You know, I never realized that. But you’re right.

TS: It’s a deliberate decision. You can start up a band or a creative group, and you guys start playing DIY parties or clubs where you have to win over the crowd. Like for example, tonight we are playing at midnight, and the last thing you want to do is stare out into a still audience and play “Free Bird.” It just doesn’t feel right. For this project we decided, why not just be the bandwidth that MO? We build everything up from a beat and work from there.

HD: Even in practice we get really into it. It’s really fun, everyone always just wants to dance.

TTN: How did Cold Blood Club get started?

TS: Kendra was more of a ‘scene muse’ for a while.

KJ: I was a scene kid, that’s what I was. I used to walk around to different shows and different clubs saying ‘I know you, hey what’s up, I know you!’ And that’s how I met Tom [Stuart]. I could always carry a tune, but I was never a part of something major musically.

TS: The whole band started as an elaborate running joke. Since Kendra and I have been good friends for a long time I always used to say, ‘I’m going to write you a record and you’re going to have to sing it.’ And that was our joke for a while. One day I got really
bored, called Kendra and said, ‘I just wrote five songs, what are you doing Saturday?!’ I could hear her swallowing on the other end of the line.

TTN: Is it difficult to collaborate with an eight-piece ensemble?

KJ: For me personally, it’s always about making sure everyone in the group feels fulfilled musically. I’m just a vocalist and I don’t have the experience or knowledge about the music that some of the other people in the group have. For me, it’s about making sure that they all know that I’m on top of my game vocally because I can’t really help much with what they’re doing. At the end of the day it’s Tom’s project and Tom’s composition but we want to make sure that everything we put out has a little piece of everyone in it.

TTN: Where would you say Cold Blood Club draws its influences?

HD: New York City.

TS: We usually say that it comes from the city. Even the rhythms and polyrhythms are like various pieces and beats of the city that are happening at that time. New York has this amazing ability to sort-of regenerate. You can watch the city grow with layer on layer of buildings, and I think a lot of that same idea has found it’s way into the record we’re working on.

TTN: So what’s it like for you as musicians to come to Philadelphia to share your music?

TS: It feels good.

KJ: I’m having fun.

HD: We know if we play in New York, our friends will come. We can play bigger and bigger venues and that’s great, it’s when you go to a completely different state or a different part of the country and people are responding – I think ‘Wow, this is awesome!’

KJ: Or ‘This is why I do this?’

HD: We’re bringing joy these people, they like our music.

TS: Writing something in my kitchen, and seeing it played out several time zones away really makes it edifying for me. Because I don’t feel creating is about me, I like seeing communication as the end result. So what – we’re all individuals, now what do we have in common?

HD: I think that’s what our lyrics do. Even when the lyrics are too abstract and you’re just simply vibing on a beat, our music helps the audience connect and infer their own meaning.

KJ: The fact that all eight of us, all different, can come together to make music and be a big, weird family – I think people see that.

Brianna Spause can be reached at brianna.spause@temple.edu.

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