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How could there not be with call-to-dance songs like “Afro” and “Bellbottoms”?It seemed obvious and harmless enough, but it was this type of jocularity—coupled with that damning word, “blues,” in their name—that gave rise to the accusations that the band were being too ironic in their approach to what was apparently a sacred cow.Except for the attitudes and adrenaline of punk, the Blues Explosion ignored most of what had come before in the 40 years after rock’s inception.These were no students of the “art form,” channeling riffs and songs in the manner of Richards, Beck, Page or Clapton; their sound came from an attempt to reanimate the attitude and energy of the originals. There was no bass to even out the unrelenting treble of the two-guitar assault of Jon Spencer and Judah Bauer.
When that band melted down, he joined the Honeymoon Killers, where he met Simins. Bauer, a wide-eyed kid fresh off the bus from Wisconsin, showed up to borrow some gear and ended up getting in on the action. It’s not surprising that not everybody “got” the Blues Explosion the first time around.
The term “racist” was even bandied about by a few influential critics whose sensibilities had been offended—as if the band were performing some kind of musical blackface routine. They paved the way for The White Stripes and The Black Keys, and by the turn of the century had achieved an almost elder statesmen’s role on the indie-rock circuit. There really isn’t such a thing as a loyal following in entertainment.
To a band of amateur musicologists, the words stung with particular venom. They parried with the ironically titled EP, as if to say, “I got your irony right here, motherfucker! It had been a good party, but the need for more didn’t seem all too pressing.
I didn’t think in terms of the way we’d be thought of or referred to or categorized or put in blues festivals or thought of as a blues band. How would you describe the interpersonal roles in the band? BAUER: In the beginning it was probably more following Jon.
Did you ever feel pigeonholed by the persona you created or the sound that you established? I had never been in a serious band and he was setting the pace of rehearsals and touring.