One of the founding members of the Convocation (formerly the Convocation Of…), Guy Blakeslee moved to California several years ago and formed Entrance, a band that shifted comfortably between bluegrass and folk, lush orchestral rock, and, finally, a wonderful, populist take on blues-rock. His debut record as the Entrance Band, with Paz Lenchantin and Derek James, comes out at the end of this month on Thurston Moore’s Ecstatic Peace! label. We exchanged emails with Blakeslee during a quick break in the Canadian leg of the Entrance Band’s tour.
How did you go from Entrance to the Entrance Band? As in, how did the three-piece come about?
Although “Entrance” began in 2001 as a “solo” project when I quit my previous band, Baltimore’s the Convocation Of…, the goal in the back of my head was always to return to the electrified three-piece format. The solid lineup of myself, Paz Lenchantin on bass, and Derek James on drums came together in 2004, but I had played with both of them separately in the previous years ...
I moved to California to begin working with Paz on new songs, and Derek started flying out from his then-home of Chicago to do shows and tours with us, and it wasn’t long before we congealed into a real band, and wanted the name to reflect this, thus: “The Entrance Band.” Our partnership works really well on so many levels, not least of which is that we are good friends and enjoy each other’s company. But it all becomes obvious to me while we are in the act of playing together that there is a chemistry between us that continues to expand, and that somehow we were meant to combine musical forces to become greater than the sum of our individual parts.
There are a few songs on your new record that have appeared on earlier Entrance records. Can you talk some about recreating those?
While most of the songs on our new album, The Entrance Band, were written together over the past few years, a few of the songs were in my head even before I recorded any solo albums, and I was saving them for the proper presentation of guitar, bass, and drums. And a couple of them have appeared on previous albums as well, and we all agreed that re-recording them — the way they are played by the trio in a live setting — was a good idea. The way we naturally changed the songs by playing them as a group was something I thought would be really important to document as the beginnings of the chemistry between the three of us. This even enabled me to re-work lyrics and guitar ideas to fit what the rhythm section was doing, and took the songs from a thin, hollow sound to the fully realized sonic reality you can hear on the record.
The Entrance Band
8pm Wed, Sep 2
Rock Bottom Tattoo Bar
1033 Ave. B
Entrance has touched on a few styles over the years, from string orchestrations to very simple folk to bluegrass to rock. How did you settle on the relatively consistent sound of the new record?
Because of the fully collaborative aspect, consistency is a natural outgrowth. As a solo artist I was certainly exploring myself and what I could do as a solitary troubadour. But once the band began, we had a sound from the beginning that was a natural occurrence and has been consistent even as it morphs and changes, because it’s coming from the same three minds and sets of hands, the same three hearts. Each time we play things differently, but it’s always from within our musical reality, which is a pretty solid agreement, and things unfold without having to be spoken.
This article originally appeared in Baltimore’s City Paper. Read the full interview online at sacurrent.com.