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Luisa Black of The Blacks

"Blistering" Trio Shares the Spotlight

Hot off a mini-tour and a trip to South By Southwest, The Blacksí San Francisco-based members Luisa Black (lead vocals/guitar) and JDK Blacker (percussion/backup vocals) are honing their Guitar Hero skills and nursing their battle wounds until the next round of gigs with New York-based drummer Gavin Black. The trio will perform in San Francisco at Bottom of the Hill on April 13th. Luisa Black recently spoke with SF Station.

SF Station (SFS): Did you learn anything new at South By Southwest?

Luisa Black (LB): I learned that you can sneak into parties and you donít need badges. We pretty much lied our way into all of the parties. We just pretended to be industry people and they let us in.

SFS: What was the best party?

LB: We saw a bunch of good stuff on all of the nights we were there. There are 1,600 bands; if you canít find a good band youíre not looking in the right places.

SFS: You had some problems with the police. What happened?

LB: We got pulled over three times in Texas. We didnít get tickets and we just got warnings. I think the cops just wanted to know who was driving around their state. It was pretty ridiculous.

SFS: How did you decide on having two percussionists and one guitarist in the band?

LB: We actually started because JDK wanted to front a band and I agreed to play guitar. We had two practices and he was terrible and couldnít sing at all. I came to the third practice and told him he was fired and we were starting a new band called The Blacks and he could be in it, but he couldnít be the singer.

SFS: And he was relegated to tambourine?

LB: Yeah, that is how the frontman became a sideman. I love trios because I love playing guitar and I like the idea of feeling very exposed and doing a lot with very little. You canít get more stripped down than drums, guitar and tambourine.

Also, JDK is a crazy, crazy percussionist. He cuts to it with a vengeance because I think he wants to be the principal singer and songwriter. He still tells people heís the singer.

SFS: Heís trying to get as much of the spotlight as he can.

LB: He can have it, man. I donít need it.

SFS: How does your songwriting process work?

We do a lot of writing in the rehearsal studio. Because our drummer lives in New York, we fly back and forth between there and San Francisco a lot. It has to be done pretty quickly when we are together, which is usually just for a couple of days before a show.

SFS: That sounds costly.

Itís a total black hole for money. Itís ridiculous; weíre breaking even, but itís not pretty.

SFS: What do you love most about the guitar?

I like the kind of energy and aggression that you can create with just that one instrument. I look at bands that have six members and they are not making more of a racket than a trio. I like the economy of just the one guitar.

SFS: According to your label, Tricycle Records, you are known for short, blistering stage shows.

LB: Thatís true. When our label signed us, we only had a half hourís worth of music so our sets were really short. The first record is only 29 minutes long with nine songs. We have a lot more material now.

Typically, we have this whole X-factor with JDK. Heís known to walk out in the middle of a song and walk into traffic and heís developed weird new moves. He actually cut his face open at South by Southwest because he was banging his head on the floor tom. Those are the kind of things you can expect at one of our shows these days.

SFS: Itís hard not to look at JDK during one of your sets.

LB: I really appreciate it because Iím singing and playing guitar and Iím glued to the mike. Itís great to have this kind of Tasmanian devil at stage right.

The Blacks perform at Bottom of the Hill on April 13th. Tickets are $10 and the show starts at 9pm.