Blackout Party singer/songwriter Brian Holwerda chats with me between waiting tables at Café Japengo and finishing BP’s second album, Closed Mouth Don’t Get Fed.
“In my late teens I played in a band called Fine White China. All the eyeliner and stuff was a little silly — we were young. We got signed to a European metal label. The band fizzled right after the record was finished. I couldn’t see myself making that music when I was old. With Blackout Party we could play these tunes till we’re old and gray!”
This is the second year BP’s been nominated for a San Diego Music Award. Does the “Best Americana” category fit?
“It’s nice to be recognized. I don’t know that any of the nominees are true ‘Americana.’ Blackout Party lost the same category in 2010. I play guitar for John Meeks, and his record won last year. I made a drunken acceptance speech, since he didn’t show.”
La Mesa native and pedal steel guitarist Daniel Crawford weighs in.
“It’s funny that we always get put in ‘Americana’ — the category is so broad. I think we get very far from that bush, so to speak. A lot of our tunes melt faces, whether they’re about mummies smokin’ weed or pirate rockers.”
“Brian started Blackout Party with Tim Lowman. I was doing a recording session for someone else. During lunch the producer played a song by Brian. I loved it, so for fun I laid down a lap steel part. Next day, Brian heard it. Tim, Brian, and I met for beers — that’s how I joined. It definitely was in a more traditional country vein then.”
Brian, how did Blackout Party get from that point to receiving the SDMA nominations?
“The biggest change has been solidifying our rhythm section. Some great players came and went. We really lucked out, getting Jeff Hawthorne on drums and Jesse Bowen on bass. And doing a weekly residency at the Riviera Supper Club for over a year helped us figure out what works live. We got tight enough to record 15 songs live last month.”
“The new record is way more upbeat than Bottom of the Sea. I’ve incorporated a bit more storyteller, narrative vibe, with less confessional, heartbreak, tear-in-my-beer... That record was a cluster of songs I wrote after a breakup. I’m in a totally different place now.”
The Blackout Party performs at the Riviera Supper Club in La Mesa on July 30.