Shari Black Velvet: ‘Live today like it’s your last’ you sing in ‘Every Day Hero’. Do you think you live every day like it’s your last?
Gene Blalock: I try to! Life is short. I think we have to live each and every day to its fullest. For me, that means trying to make the world a little better every day. I've always lived my life this way - doing something meaningful - something that you can be proud of, every day.
SBV: When you began The Faded did you envisage what each day would be like for you and how has the daily existence of The Faded been? Has it been different to how you imagined it before you got into music?
GB: Music has always been a big part of my life; it's one of the purest forms of expression. I never really planned or anticipated what it would be... I suppose at times it seems like a lot more work than I might have imagined, but it’s also been a great deal of fun and has allowed me some amazing opportunities.
SBV: You have a CD entitled ‘Scream’. What makes you scream?
GB: In a good or bad way? In a ‘good’ way, flying a plane, saving an animal, helping a fellow human… There are some other things, but they're not exactly G-Rated... In a ‘bad’ way, selfish people who aren't concerned about others and just about anything involving cruelty or neglect to animals.
SBV: You try to make every show memorable. At a Halloween show you gave out candy treats. Do you think music fans need something more than just the music? Do you think other bands’ shows are too boring?
GB: I think that music is an immersive medium. ‘Rock and roll is a prostitute - it should be tarted up.’ - apologies to Velvet Goldmine. Seriously, though, the best way to enjoy music is when all of your senses are involved. The more we can draw our audience into a multimedia experience, the more they can feel what we are communicating. Halloween is one of my favourite holidays and the trick or treat bags are our way of having some fun and giving back to the fans that support us. As to other bands, I think many of them understand this on some level. We've just committed ourselves to never doing anything less than the best that we can for the people who are kind enough to come out and support us.
SBV: What sort of candy treats were they? Vegan? And how many did you get/give out?
GB: Of course they were vegan! We gave out about 100 bags with hard candies and glow sticks, and other goodies that we thought would amuse people.
SBV: You’ve written the score for the movie Skin Trade. One song is entitled ‘Cruel Fashion’. How did you get to write the score?
GB: I met the director, Shannon Keith, about a year and a half ago at a screening of her previous film, ‘Behind The Mask’. She mentioned that she was looking for more of a ‘rock’ soundtrack for the film and asked if I would be interested in helping. As the movie is all about animal cruelty and the lies about fur production, I was grateful to be involved. ‘Cruel Fashion’ is sort of our homage to Duran Duran, who also has a track in the film.
SBV: Tell us about the movie. You’ve said it’s ‘tough to watch at times’. Which bits were tough to watch? And why should people watch it anyway?
GB: If you know about how fur is produced, you'd know the answer to this question, and that's why, if you don't, you owe it to yourself to learn about what really and truly happens. There is no such thing as non-cruel fur, and the truth is, according to the Federal Government, that 96% of all faux fur being imported from China is actually dog and cat fur! One particularly tough scene for me is shown at the end, and I think it really demonstrates what fur actually is - that being, the skin of an animal. I think we all owe it to ourselves to know what we are involving ourselves in - on every level. It may be hard to watch at times, but that is nothing compared to what these animals go through in the name of vanity.
SBV: Producer / Goldfinger frontman John Feldmann and Poison drummer Rikki Rockett are both involved in the film. How well do you know John and Rikki?
GB: Both Rikki and John are very active animal rights supporters and excellent musicians. Rikki and I have been at many events together and spent some time talking - even played a show together at the last World Week For Animals benefit here in LA. John and I have talked on occasion.
SBV: Did you find writing songs for Skin Trade harder or easier than writing songs primarily just for The Faded?
GB: Skin Trade's soundtrack was much harder. When I write a song for The Faded, I have three to four minutes to express a consistent emotion or story. For the film, we often have to try to express a variety of feelings and thoughts, many times, without any lyrics, and as the scenes changes, so does the mood of the music. It was a very in-depth process.
SBV: You’re involved in the editing and production. How did you get into audio and video producing?
GB: I went to school for film and video, and they've always been of great interest to me. Film and music have both been huge influences in my life and I feel they go hand in hand with one another. I like all arts, actually - I read, I write, I paint, I express myself and try to understand others' expressions.
SBV: Uncaged Films also produced the movie ‘Behind The Mask’. What did you think of that DVD and what other media has made an impact on you?
GB: ‘Behind The Mask’ is a brilliant film that shed light on the plight of many animals. Shannon did an excellent job of raising awareness of the unforgivable condition in which many animals live and die. It's great in that it that really helps others understand why people are willing to risk everything to save an animal. I think, in many ways, a film like ‘Behind The Mask’ can help change awareness and, ultimately, the world.
SBV: As a child, you grew up in an area where hunting was a ‘way of life’. How did it make you feel living there when you knew animal cruelty was wrong?
GB: I wouldn't see it any different from anywhere else in the world - animal cruelty is everywhere and once you understand how wrong it is, it really makes no difference where you live. It drives and pushes me to work to make things different and save animals. As for rural Virginia, I think it's a beautiful area and, in many ways, I enjoyed living there.
SBV: You’ve been at events such as Fur Free Friday, an annual event that takes place the Friday after Thanksgiving and aims to educate people about the horrors suffered by fur-bearing animals. What other animal rights events have you been involved with?
GB: Actually, I was one of the organizers of Fur Free Friday and World Week for Animals. I'm involved in as many events as I can find time to work with. I would say that I am involved every day, maybe even almost every hour. I would urge anyone who feels interested in animal advocacy to get involved and do whatever you can - whether that's going vegan, marching outside UCLA's primate lab, or thinking outside the box. Live every day like it could be your last!
SBV: You have some great myspace blogs, particularly on your own individual page. In one entry you mentioned having read Ingrid Newkirk’s ‘One Can Make A Difference’. Did any particular story or person stand out in that book?
GB: All the stories are inspiring. I think what really struck me the most was just the TITLE - I don't think people realize the impact that one person can actually have, whether that's fighting animal cruelty or helping a homeless person on the street. A single act of kindness daily can make the world an incredible place in which to live.
SBV: Which is more important to you, music or helping to stop animal cruelty?
GB: I hope I never have to make that choice. If you're asking which is ultimately more important - being a rock star or saving animals, I will always vote for saving the animals. Even so, I will always make music and always work to protect animals. One day, I hope that I won't have to protect animals anymore and I can just relax (a little) and concentrate on my music.
SBV: Finally, there’s a song on the ‘Scream’ CD entitled ‘This Is My Life’. If you had to become an animal and live its life, which animal would you like to become? And which animal do you think currently has the worst life?
GB: I think being some form of bird would be amazing because I love flying, though I would be hard pressed to pick just one. There are so many amazing qualities in animals that I wish I could experience. Any animal in suffering, on any level, is terrible and absolutely unacceptable, however we've totally exploited cows - they're amazingly gentle, intelligent creatures. Fifty years ago, a cow's lifespan was 25 years, but milk production was less per day. Today, production has more than doubled, but a cow's life is about five years. The lie that ‘milk does a body good’, and that milk is somehow necessary is at the cost of these gentle creature's lives… From milk, to leather, to meat, we have horribly exploited cows. Just take a look into a cow's eyes and you'll see what I mean.
Visit www.skintradethemovie.com for more info on the movie Skin Trade and visit www.myspace.com/geneblalock and www.myspace.com/thefaded for more info about Gene and his band The Faded.