Blue Healer: ‘Art Reflects You’


Hannah Shulman

Blue Healer plays Free Press Summer Fest in Houston, Texas.

Hailey Nuthals, Arts Editor

A few months after we caught up with them during the Free Press Festival in June, Blue Healer met with WSN again, fresh from the release of their self-titled debut album. They’re a band that can only be described as fun, which is exactly how they will describe themselves. The three Austin-based lads spoke about their own agendas and their identities as Texan musicians.

WSN: What do you guys think about the recent rise of the visual album, and do you have plans to work with that?

Bryan Mammel: We certainly live in a landscape where bands like us don’t necessarily have the budget to do something of that scope. But you do plan on trying to put a video to every song that you can. For us, it’s still DIY. We’ve got a buddy of mine, Josh Armour, that we’ve worked with on a couple of videos. Everyone gets better, and we hope to just keep doing that as much as we can.

But I love it … when you go to a show, you don’t just close your eyes and listen to the music. So if you’re putting art out there, that’s almost as much a part of listening to the music as the music, in some ways.

WSN: Do you think bands have to have a specific [agenda] that they set out to do?

BM: Part of putting your art out there is that hopefully, it reflects you. I think for us, what it reflects is just generally a little bit less serious than Mykki Blanco. [They make] great videos — really cool shit — but that seems like a pretty natural outpouring of who that person is as an artist … We will probably never make a music video that [is] along those lines. Because for us as artists, I think it’s a simpler, more chill tongue-in-cheek kind of thing.

WSN: What do you think it is about Texas, and about Austin, that most affects your sound and the way that you approach your music?

David Beck: I think [it’s that] we all grew up there. Country music is a big part of growing up there in most families like ours. I think that music seeps in no matter what happens. I think what we take out of it is [that] some of those country songs are so solid and simple, and I think that bleeds into our music. I think those elements are there no matter what we do on top of it or how crazy it sounds. There’s still a fairly simple song at the root of it —

Dees Stribling: — With the riff melodies or the drum beats or with just the big, solid breaks of “here’s the riff, here’s the sound thought.”

BM: I think it’s interesting watching that translate, too. Because I don’t know that our sound is necessarily country at all. But there’s a lot of friends that are in bands back home who have really latched onto it and really like what we’re doing. It’ll be like the Quebe Sisters from Dallas. They’ve got a fiddle thing. It’s like the Andrew Sisters. And we love it! If we’re gonna listen to something — going to a dance hall and hooking up — we love that kind of music. But the music that we make is different, and it’s cool to see that people from a very traditional Texan — maybe not even Austin, but Texan — type of sound can also really latch on to what we’re trying to do.

WSN: How important do you think your regional identity is to your writing?

DB: Not that important. We don’t rep it. A lot of people rep where they’re from —

WSN: The Suffers from Houston, Texas!

DB: — yeah! They are like, from Houston. And we are from Austin, generally. I grew up in East Dallas. None of us are raised there, really.

BM: I think some of what we’re trying to do, in Austin’s music scene specifically, is very different from the suburbs — from Houston. I think we’ve got a whole lot of solidarity for the city and for the bands from the city. If you’re an Austin musician, you end up playing with a bunch of different bands in Austin and you work with a bunch of bands. So there’s solidarity in that way, but the bands that come from Austin oftentimes aren’t screaming that they’re from Austin… Obviously it informs us and what we do, but at the same time, we’re not gonna be out there screaming it [while] touring nationally.

Email Hailey Nuthals at [email protected]