Posted on April 04, 2018
How to Form a Band – Doug Hream Blunt
Sometime in the late 1980s, a San Franciscan by the name of Doug Hream Blunt signed up for an evening class, advertised through photocopied posters slapped-and-stapled to telephone poles: How to Form a Band. Doug had spent his time working odd jobs, doing “almost anything to make money,” trying to make a comfortable life for himself. He liked music but had never learned how to write or play it. In class, he was taught to play guitar by his teacher, a drummer who had little knowledge of how to play the guitar himself. Doug corralled his classmates into joining his first backing band; technicalities like playing in the right key were of little concern, and their jerky, idiosyncratic performances combined timidity and boldness, as if they weren’t quite sure they were doing it right and yet were completely sure they were doing it right.
With his band together, Doug spent two years writing and recording the songs that would eventually comprise his only full-length album, Gentle Persuasion, which he pressed to vinyl himself. It never received an official release; instead Doug would occasionally drop off copies at his local record stores, often without bothering to leave contact details and rarely checking back to see if they sold.
He made only one other collection, the six-song EP Big Top. In the early 1990s, he played a few solo shows for elderly patients at the hospital where he worked as a nurse’s aid, wandering from ward to ward with his guitar. Doug didn’t play at a traditional venue until spring 2015, when he joined Ariel Pink onstage at Bimbo's in San Francisco to sing Gentle Persuasion, after the band, knowing he was there, started playing the song during their encore. Today he has a cult following of artists including David Byrne, Devendra Banhart, Dam-Funk and Dean Blunt.
Chiz Williams, a member of The Cube Workforce, who will perform with Doug Hream Blunt at his intimate Mayfest show, tells us what we can expect from the collaboration…
Chiz: I met Doug over a long, summer weekend in London in 2016, when he was playing Field Day and some hotel lobby shows (with Klein and Ashley Paul in the band). Doug is a beautiful character, an elder, whose approach to making music is laid back and fun. He likes to sit and then get up and move. In fact, he likes everyone to get up and move.
Qu Junktions and Doug have been chatting on the phone so Doug knows the basics about The Cube: it’s a cinema, an intimate, friendly place, with a big stage, decent sound, and a bunch of weirdoes always in attendance. The Cube Workforce is anyone and everyone who works at The Cube. It’s not all watching films, I mean some of the films you have to work at, right! So it's very open – anyone who mops, books, stocks, tweets, sells tickets, delivers programmes, serves drinks, sleeps or hangs out there can be in the band if they want to be.
We’re expecting the collaboration with Doug to be something along the lines of: The Cube Workforce play Doug's classy-as-hell, riff-driven songs and then Doug joins in and together we jam it out. Many of Doug’s tracks are mesmerising, repetitive affairs. Everything hangs loosely from the rhythm. It’ll probably sound like Bootsy Collins, Ariel Pink, De la Soul, The Pretenders and Freeze Puppy making sweet outsider pop music.
Doug Hream Blunt And The Cube Workforce
The Cube Microplex
12 May, 8pm