Indian Blanket are a wonderful folk band from St Louis, Missouri.
They are currently recording their debut record and front-man Joe Andert took some time out to talk to us.
After the interview there are two beautiful tracks available to stream so that you can see for yourself exactly how awesome these guys are.
The first track, ‘We Were Here’ will be the first track released from their record. The second, ‘Boots of Spanish Leather’ is a Bob Dylan cover that Joe recorded with Klara Söderberg from the amazing First Aid Kit and is exclusive to Tonight We Dance, Tomorrow We Cry.
Hi, Joe. Firstly, tell us a little about Indian Blanket.
I’ve been writing folk music for a few years now as ‘Indian Blanket.’ I had been writing and collaborating with a bunch of different musicians in Chicago for about four years, but it wasn’t until I moved back home to St. Louis did the band solidify into what it is today.
There are five of us now: Jim Hughes, Alex Beaven and Andrew and Michael Chandler. We all went to the same high school, and Jim and I were roommates in college.
I don’t know how I’d describe our sound… Is flannel-folk a genre?
Why did you guys decide to call yourselves Indian Blanket?
Well, Indian Blanket is a reference to the English army’s ‘gifting’ of blankets that were infected with smallpox to the Native Americans in the 1760s. It was one of those things I learned in elementary school that I couldn’t forget if I wanted to.
When Jim and I lived in Chicago, we would play our songs with a big circle of about 10 or 15 people every Sunday in our apartment. We’d pass around a few bottles of whiskey, and everyone would be singing along while playing whatever instruments they could find. It was so raw and everyone was so out of tune with each other, but it was more fun than any show I’ve ever played.
The name popped into my head during one of those sessions. I thought it appropriate considering our community-based approach to making music and the influence that traditional Native American folk music has had on our sound.
Was there a particular moment in your past where you heard a record or saw a band and thought – ‘yeah, that’s what I want to do’?
Oh, man there have been so many!
I was probably 12 or 13 years old the first time I heard Bob Dylan. The song was ‘Boots of Spanish Leather’ and I was just floored by it. I loved that the point of view switched from the man to the woman with each verse.
Melodically, it’s such a simple, repetitive song, but the lyrics really kick your ass. There are so many ways you can move someone with your music, but I like to get to people with words. Fortunately, the other guys in the band are really thoughtful in how they use each song’s lyrics as their main motivation for instrumentation.
I understand you are working on a debut album at the moment. How is that going?
Our friend, Shaun McCloskey, is producing the album and he has made the whole experience better than any of us could have expected.
On the first day of recording, he had to leave for a few hours to spend some time with his kids, so we decided to sit around on the trampoline in his backyard until he came back. We were sitting there smoking cigarettes for about 15 minutes when we looked over and saw that his neighbor was just standing across the yard staring at us in a nurse’s uniform.
It was kind of disturbing, so we didn’t acknowledge her. Jim really had to pee, but she wouldn’t go away, so he eventually said, “fuck it,” and just walked into the woods a little ways and started taking care of business.
The sound of piss hitting leaves was so loud and when I looked back to the woman to see if she noticed, she was just standing there with a shovel in her hands, holding a dead cat. She was trying to bury her cat, and we were pissing in the woods during the funeral… So, yeah, it’s been a dream come true.
One of the tracks that you have made available for free on your Facebook page, ‘What Means To Travel’, features Klara Söderberg from First Aid Kit. How did that come about and how was it recording with her?
Ah, it’s kind of funny how that came about. Basically, we met online about 3 years ago, and heard each other’s music, so we decided to record a cover of ‘Boots of Spanish Leather’ through email.
We never did get the song finished, but we kept in touch until we were eventually able to meet in person.
Since then, we’ve been able to visit each other a few times, and when we do, we usually end up writing or recording something. The last time I came to stay at her parents’ house in Sweden, we recorded the song ‘What Means to Travel?’ with her father and finally got around to recording a live version of ‘Boots of Spanish Leather’ – which you can hear after this interview – in her kitchen. Klara and Johanna are two of the most kind-hearted, genuine people you could ever meet and their parents are no different, so I always have a great time over there.
Will she feature on the album?
I’m sure we’ll be doing some recording when she is here in St. Louis in May, but whether she’s featured on any song on the album other than ‘What Means to Travel?’ is tough to say for certain.
I’d say ‘check out the album and find out,’ but I’d feel pretty lame saying that kind of thing.
Have you collaborated with anyone else on the record?
We’re hoping to have McKenzie Toma, one of the most beautiful folksingers I’ve ever heard, record with us.
McKenzie, Klara and I performed a cover of ‘Moonshine Blues’ together at a show we all played in Chicago last year, and I’d love to be able to put that on the album.
Sam Weaver from Jim’s punk band, The Royal 27’s is planning on recording with us as well.
If you could choose anybody in the world to make a song with, who would it be?
You know, I think I’d have to say Johanna Newsom. She’s a really unique songwriter, and she seems like she’d be nothing but good vibes.
Tell us about the songs that are available to stream at the bottom of this page.
‘We Were Here’ is the first track we’re releasing from the album, so we’re all pretty excited to hear people’s reactions to it.
It’s one of the bigger, slower songs on the album. Shaun is playing piano on this one, and my brother-in-law, Joe Padawan, is on trumpet.
The other song is the cover of ‘Boots of Spanish Leather’ that Klara and I recorded earlier this year. You can hear her little brother, Isak, giving us a KISS inspired count-in!
Have you guys played any live shows yet, and if so, how have you found them?
I’ve played a fair amount of shows over the past couple years, and they were all a ton of fun. For the rest of the guys, our first time on stage together will be towards the end of July. The proceeds are going to a local battered women’s shelter, so we’re all really looking forward to it.
What can we expect from Indian Blanket over the next year?
Right now, our only goal is to make an album that we’re proud of. We’d like to take these songs on tour, but I really think we’d all be content to keep doing exactly what we’ve been doing.
We’re having a lot of fun making music with our friends and we hope people like listening to it as much we like writing it.
Indian Blanket and Klara Söderberg
– Boots of Spanish Leather
– David Tinkler