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Thursday, September 18, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 50.0° F  Fog/Mist
The Paper
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Blueheels just want to have fun
'I don't want to be a rock star'
The new record needed to be lush.
The new record needed to be lush.
Credit:Eric Tadsen

The idiosyncratic combination known as Blueheels is convened at the Weary Traveler on Willy Street. Three of them, anyway: drummer Adam Cargin, guitarist Justin Bricco and singer/songwriter Robby Schiller. It's been two years since the group's last record, and the rockers who once played five shows per week have been in a rare live-performance hiatus as well.

They're back. Schiller says Weather Machine, which drops Aug. 31, is the first package of songs he's written specifically for a Blueheels lineup. Their record release party is at the High Noon Saloon Sept. 8.

Are there any connections between the title of the project and the songs? A theme?

Schiller: I hate answering questions like that, but I like you. I like you more than the rest of the boys at the trailer park, so I'm going to answer it. I think the themes of the record are about trying to build this perfect society - trying to make, mechanically, something that already existed naturally.

Was there a goal when you started this project, or did it just happen because the songs were there?

Schiller: Musically I felt like we had this lineup that was insanely talented, really tight. We had been playing together, sometimes five shows a week, for years. The best band that I'd ever been in. I wanted to see how good we could be and how many intricate things we could put together [in the studio].

Bricco: We took to the studio to drape Rob's songs in nuance and colors. We had already made some bare-boned records and we wanted this one to be just lush.

The record is hyper-produced compared to past ones. It's like Blueheels...

Schiller: Masturbating in each other's ears.

Cargin: We've never made a record with Teddy [Pedrianna, keyboards]. He's kind of like a musical mad scientist.

Schiller: Like the Rain Man of music. And he's willing to go back over the same five seconds of a song for eight hours straight.

Bricco: I've had to change my playing a lot because Teddy covers so much melody in so many different ways. Rather than relying on old tricks, I've had to watch for and listen for ambience and doing that kind of thing.

Cargin: For me, this batch of songs was the first time I've really had a chance to be creative instead of doing the alt-country blues style of like, backbeat....

Schiller: For me it's the other way around. The reason I started writing songs that were this quirky and fun rhythmically was because I had this drummer who was totally being squandered on the stuff we were making him play.

What role does humor have in your approach to songwriting?

Schiller: It does more now than ever. I'm a big Randy Newman fan, and the thing I like about his songs is that there's no subject, there's no emotion, there's nothing that's off limits. His variation is more song to song. Whereas I sort of want it to be line-to-line.

Robby, you and Bricco have played a long time together. You met at an open mike?

Schiller: I was 15. Playing folk songs that sounded suspiciously like Bob Dylan. And he said we should be in a band together. And then every time I would see him he would say again and again, we should be in a band together. Then I was like 22, and we started a band together.

Bricco: October of 2004.

What do you know now that you didn't know then?

Schiller: I know that I don't want to be a rock star. I learned that I don't want to be that.

It sounds like that realization could be liberating.

Schiller: Yeah. For sure.

Cargin: I think for the most part, as far as this band goes, we realize that we don't want to play music full time. We want it to be fun. We want to get together. Make a record. Maybe play some shows.

High Noon Saloon, Saturday, Sept. 8, 9 pm

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