It's been almost a year since local rock group The Tremulants played their last show following the death of frontman Marco Holt who succumbed to non-Hodgkin lymphoma. His passing left the music community grieving and family and friends reeling.
Tremulants bassist Isaac Hensleigh stepped away from music in the subsequent months and helped in settling Holt's final affairs, including his last will and testament. Since that time he's found his creative itch again and has returned with a new band called Blanche Beach. Inspired by Holt and an urge for really loud pop rock music, Hensleigh has teamed up with Nathan Leach and Tristan Jemsek of DIYers Dogbreth to form the new triumvirate which is scheduled to open tonight's FMLY Fest-inspired 4xF music gala taking place off of downtown's infamous Roosevelt Row.
Up on the Sun: In retrospect, how do you look back on 2012?
Isaac Hensleigh: It was a big year. Marco passing definitely had a big effect on me. One of the biggest things I took away from [his passing] was that, Marco always did what he wanted to do, creatively. He never really strayed from that. What I took out of that was, if I'm going to do something creative, if I'm going to play music, I want to do something that's exactly what I want to do, that I'm going to have fun doing. So I started writing some songs, recorded some four-track versions of them and started trying to find people to play with.
I ended up hooking up with Nathan Leach and Tristan Jemsek. [Those two guys] have played in a bunch of local DIY bands. It's been a good kind of release -- a way to wrap things up emotionally for me in terms of Marco. The first two or three songs have a lot to do with him.
What was a changing point for you? When did you decide to get back into music?
I'm a big fan of really loud pop music. I think about the Ramones, Weezer; Jeff the Brotherhood put out that album last year, Hypnotic Nights, which I really dug. I just like simple, loud songs that are catchy. I like music that's not trying to be difficult, music that's just straight ahead and has a universal appeal but still loud and thick. I think there's a little bit of a void of that in Phoenix. Certainly, there are some bands like Scorpion vs. Tarantula and JJCnV, but it seems like there's a little bit of a void of just really loud raucous pop bands.
So that was the original idea that I pitched to the guys. I was like, listen to this Jeff the Brotherhood album and some of these early Weezer albums. Of course it probably doesn't sound anything like that now [laughs].
And your daughter made one of those recordings, right?
[Laughs] The recording on the track is actually from a video of her singing that I took while we were driving. It's the coolest thing that has happened to me as a dad. After we had those first three songs recorded, I was listening to the mixes in the car a lot, so we're driving around and after listening to these three songs like five or six times, she started singing along and asking for specific songs. So she would be like, "Play the hand song," or "Play the ship song," and then the next week she started singing along without the music playing and I recorded it. I forgot who suggested it, but someone was like you've got to put it on the track. I realized after I heard her singing along with it that the song wasn't a silly love song like I had originally intended but really had a lot more to do with hanging out with a three-year-old and doing whatever you want to do.
Hensleigh: [Laughs] Sometimes my songs make more sense when she sings them.
I'm not a very cerebral person when it comes to lyrics. I usually don't think it out. It's usually a lot more about the sonic quality of the words than it is about a story or painting a picture.
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So she needs a credit then...
Well on our bandcamp site, the credits read: Nathan Leach, Isaac Hensleigh and Sophia Hensleigh, so she does have her first credit already at three and a half.