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An interview with Sarah Blackwood of Walk Off The Earth

Call me a fan boy, but I love this band!

Walk Off The Earth gained 127 million viewers in four months for their creative YouTube cover of Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used To Know,” which, combined with a score of other wildly imaginative and adventurous DIY vids, earned them a record contract with Columbia and a three-continent world tour.

This summer I caught up with vocalist/guitarist/ukukelist/percussionist Sarah Blackwood to ask about the band’s rapid ascent. The following is an edited version of the interview.

Me: What do you think attracted Columbia Records to you? Was there ONE THING that most impressed them?

SB: We didn't worry about what we did that impressed them. It was completely the other way around. They had to impress us! We knew we had a great future ahead no matter what—with or without them.

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When Best wasn't good enough

Yet another 50th anniversary is upon us. For Beatles’ fans this is a big one. On 8/16/62 the Fab Four abruptly fired drummer Pete Best—an integral part of the “wall of sound” that helped propel them to local stardom in Liverpool—and replaced him with Ringo Starr.

This sacking occurred only 19 days before the band was scheduled to record their first single for Parlophone Records. An unusual business move, given the timing and the fact that Pete was the most popular member of the band, especially with the increasingly frenzied female fandom. Why did it happen? Inquiring minds want to know…

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Dick Dale rages, music goes indie, and why you don't want a job

You Don't Want A Job

[As a special treat for BLFR readers I've invited writer Joel D Canfield to do a guest post, which fortuitously and propitiously coincides with the publication of his 10th book! — John]

You Don't Want A Job

For a short time in YouTube's early days there was a video of a fan asking Dick Dale a few questions after a show.

The chap was polite and Dick was gracious enough to allow him to video their conversation.

The fan asked how a musician could make it today. Dick stopped being gracious. Not at the fan, at the music industry.

I won't pretend I can quote his response verbatim, but Dick Dale, the man who invented surf guitar and helped Leo Fender blow up a boatload of amplifiers, made it very clear that working with a record company was a way to jump into a bottomless pit. With each album, he said, you'd owe them even more intellectual property.

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Immigration revisited

Talented immigrants have been a feature of rock bands since the dawn of the classic rock era. Immigrant or multinational groups have included: The Band, Buffalo Springfield, and The Lovin’ Spoonful (all with Canadian-American co-founders); Queen (co-founded by Freddie Mercury from Zanzibar); and Kiss (co-founded by Gene Simmons from Israel)—not to mention many British-American bands like Fleetwood Mac and Crosby, Stills & Nash.

Immigrants have brought different worldviews, cultural influences, and sometimes a distinct hunger and ambition to their bands—as they often do to any profession.

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