He went to bed one night in late 2010, living in his Greenpoint apartment on India Street, confident and ready to pack up his guitar and pursue a more stable lifestyle away from the dive bars and grungy rock clubs of Brooklyn. However in the morning, he awoke with nothing but new beats and musical inspiration on his mind.
Little more than two and a half years later, the now seven-piece electronic-punk, high-energy, and yes, fist-pumping, rock band with deeply rooted influences in groups like Depeche Mode and New Order, have taken the NYC rock scene by storm and are preparing to record their second full-length album.
Stuart put the new group together with Radio America band mate Jesse Reno on bass; Kendra Jones and Bradley Peterson singing lead vocals; drummer Shin Kamei on drums, violinist Hilary Davis and Adina Benno on keys.
Today they are touring on a new single, “Goodbye to All That,” and just played to a sold out crowd with the band Future Bible Heroes at the Bowery Ballroom, located at 6 Delancey St. in Manhattan.
I sat down with Stuart at S’Nice café near Washington Square Park in the West Village to discuss his band, his roots in Brooklyn and the vision that brought this newly formed group to where they are today.
How did Cold Blood Club first begin?
My old band had broken up, and I had a really good night and a real heart-to-heart with my friends in Racoon Fire, and I sort of had this peaceful sensation that I was just going to give up music.
It’s too far to go through the highs and lows in the other projects I’ve been in, but people get disappointed as musicians, and I was like, ‘okay, I had some things that were kind of successful and I should be kind of happy to be out seeing my friends that don’t seem resentful that they’re still doing it,' and decided I will be a weekend warrior when it comes to music.
What would you have been if you gave it up?
I don’t know, I would have figured something out. If you’re a creative guy, you can fall into something else.
You had no solid plans of what you would do though?
Yeah, I just wanted to do something else. I went to bed feeling that. But when you ask me about being self-reflective on what I would do, I woke up the next morning and walked over to my laptop and started programming beats and writing songs immediately.
So it’s fair to say you didn’t get that far?
No, I just woke up the next morning and was like, ‘what am I going to do?’ But then I just said, ‘this is what I do.’
Would you say that was a significant point in your life?
Oh yeah, absolutely.
Was that the point when you noticed that this is what you were going to do no matter what happens?
It’s funny you should say that. I had this really brilliant roommate, he’s a filmmaker, and ironically on a moment when one of my old bands could have made a move and done something, and I was a little nervous about what I was going to do.
He was like, ‘ Tom,’ in his very artsy Italian way. His name is Roberto. He goes, ‘Tom, what will happen if your band becomes successful?’ I was like, ‘I don’t know, I guess I will keep making music.’ He goes, ‘Exactly. And what will happen if your band is not successful?’ And I’m like, ‘Well, I guess I will just keep making music.’ And then he said, 'Exactly, so you have nothing to worry about.’
And I just don’t think I listened to him until years later.
So after you woke up and started making beats, you formed your new band? How did you go about that?
I called Kendra, our singer, and she and I had a long-standing thing for while and we always joked that I would write her a record sometime, because she has always been around music and had a great musical ear.
After she positively responded to that and we started putting music down, I wanted a male voice because I didn’t particularly feel like singing. So I called up Brad, who had been a singer in one of my early bands called Earlymay and he had been through a really rough place, living on his own in Bushwick, kind of between relationships and periods in his life. But I called up Brad and asked him to do some singing, even though he had done it already and left music and built up another life. But he was all about it.
Brad and Kendra came by on Saturday mornings and stayed through the early evenings and we would sit around and I would have my plan for the week. They would come in to try and bang out some stuff and we built up a bunch of demos. Kendra was really excited and started promoting and it was just like putting the ball in the pinball machine. Before we knew it someone was asking us if we wanted to play a show, even though we only had like six or seven songs. The drummer and the bass player and the keyboard player in the band were my MacBook.
I called up Jesse, who I played with forever; he was the bass player in my former band Radio America, and I was like, ‘we’re supposed play this show at The Delancy, and I think I need a bass player, so could you help me out?’
And that was the first show.
So how long has the band, Cold Blood Club been together now?
About a year and a half. The band you know now, with Shin and Hillary, would have been in January 2012. We played a show at Pianos. That first whole year was just an exercise in figuring out what we wanted to do. None of us knew ourselves.
So do you feel like you just kind of accidentally created a band?
Well, that was the joke of our name, The Cold Blood Club.
When did you first get into music?
Jesse and I first started playing guitar together when I was like 11. I come from a pretty musical family, so I started playing piano when I was like five.
Where are you guys from?
Jesse and I are from central Massachusetts near Worcester.
And you came to Brooklyn together?
Well, I went to college at Fordham and came back to go to grad school at NYU. When I came back, Jesse came with and we moved to Astoria. Jesse still lives in the same place and I lived there for like five years. We moved down with a drummer back when Radio America was a very serious thing to us. This is back when we were playing the circuit in Boston and I convinced them to come down and play in New York.
Where did you find influence for the type of music you guys play?
With my old band, we got into this habit of trying to boil the ocean too much I think, we had three songwriters in the band and there were a lot of influences on the table and I think it had a tendency to make everything a little beige.
And for this one, I had been so brokenhearted about the end of that project, just the way that it ended, but I didn’t want to have anything to do with rock-and-roll music and even just listening to it upset me. I just started listening to this dance music that I hadn’t paid attention to in forever.
Which groups were you listening to?
I was listening to a lot of new wave that I hadn’t really gotten into, like some Belgian dark wave bands and a lot of New Order in a way that I never really investigated it before. At the same time I had been listening to a lot of pop music like Mike Snow and a lot of that Swedish stuff. I’ve been made fun of, for good reason many times over, for my obsession with Robin.
I was also listening to a lot of the DFA stuff and I think that’s what gave me the confidence to say, ‘ I really want the sound to be this big, but can I get six or seven people to do it?’ That made me feel like this could be done and I could referee it.
How did this all translate to your new band?
It’s still all very beat-oriented and with a reflection over this city. I feel like NYC has this sound about walking around and it’s all beat, on top of beat on top of beat, and I like to write in these parameters of something I can walk around the city to.
What kind of rock influences do you have, because it does have this punk rock feel to it?
Yeah, I was a punk rock kid for sure. I still say my favorite record ever made is London Calling. Even though it evolved from a very punk place, it’s all beat-oriented.
Stuart and the band have 12 songs ready to take into the studio this summer to record their next album, “Tear Down the Maps.”