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Blue Skies For Black Hearts

by Megan Trihey

Patrick Kearns arrived out of breath five minutes before 9:30, a guitar case in one hand and his girlfriend’s hand entwined with his other. He just finished playing an acoustic set down the street at Backspace. Ten minutes later, Kearns and the rest of Blue Skies for Black Hearts were on the red-lit stage and playing with no introduction.

The band was playing at Dante’s, a popular Portland, Oregon venue whose interior design reflects its name. The only lights in the dark brick building came from the stage or small candles flickering on the black tabletops. Though the Underworld-esq adornment remained throughout the show, as soon as Blue Skies for Black Hearts begun playing their upbeat classic pop rhythms, it was easy to forget I was in hell.

The music is charming. It’s clearly influenced by everyone’s favorite oldies, a nice contrast to the Emo music that, based on the name of the band, I thought I was going to encounter. But the band does what its name claims and incorporates a duality – the feel-good feeling you get when listening to Blue Skies for Black Hearts and the somewhat gloomy lyrics that are utterly relatable.

“There’s something to be said about saying things in a way that’s easier for people to take but also connects with them,” said lead guitarist Michael Lewis.

The band attributes its easy-going melodies to its dark sense of humor.

“So many people do this Emo thing and it’s like, ‘poor me, and blah, blah, blah,’” said Kearns. “I’m depressed all the time anyway, so it’s kind of like, that’s the dark sense of humor thing, I like to laugh at it and have fun with it and I think that’s the beauty with a lot of the 60’s music that people didn’t get. It wasn’t all happy hippy yay, yay, yay back then either, but they would take stuff that was sort of sad and turn it around put a happy melody under it.”

Kearns, Lewis, bassist Kelly Simmons, and drummer Paul Noel seem to enjoy putting on a show almost as much as the audience loves being the audience. The guys were smiling, laughing, and appeared to exchange inside jokes with mere glances throughout the set, but their energy climaxed during “Siouxsie Please Come Home.”

The tune is about a guy writing to his soldier girl, woefully waiting for her to come home from war.

“I wanted a twist of the sexes,” said Kearns, who wrote the song. “Back in the 60’s when people would write these songs, or this type of song, it was always like ‘soldier boy,’ or this kind of thing so I wanted the soldier to be the girl … it’s something that couldn’t have happened back then and so I wanted to twist it.”

The song is also indicative of the turbulent times in which we live.

“I think in the last decade it’s a little difficult to separate the reality of now and history,” said Lewis. “It’s a recognition of the times we live in.”

“It’s more personal though,” added Simmons, “because it’s between the person writing the letter and the person receiving the letter.”

Kearns admits more was at play when he wrote the song. His girlfriend, Susan, was away from home on a trip, and he wanted her to come home. In addition to his loneliness, he explained he had a strange daydream in which Burt Baccarat was dating Jessica Lynch, the first POW rescued during Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003.

“I had this weird thing in my head,” said Kearns. “If he [Baccarat] was dating Jessica Lynch, what kind of song would he write? So I kind of tried to write that song.”

The collection of thoughts tumbled into “Siouxsie Please Come Home,” which appeared to be an audience favorite and the most-listened to song on the band’s Myspace page. But that’s how Kearns says most of the songs are composed.

“We get pretty interested, I think, in relationships of people in books as well as people we know and that sort of talking and books that we’re reading now, just sort of what’s going on, it starts to filter into the songs in weird ways,” he said.

Blue Skies For Black Hearts’ latest album, Serenades and Hand Grenades, can be purchased on iTunes.

blueskiesforblackhearts.com

-MKT

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