|Origin||Santa Cruz, CA|
|Genres||Anarcho-punk, acoustic, Folk-punk, Blues, Traditional folk music, Ragtime, country|
|Associated acts||Sangre De Muerdago, Lynched, The Hail Seizures,|
|Past members||Roberto Miguel (miguel from oakland) |
Jillian Edward Chaplin
Blackbird Raum is a folk punk band from Santa Cruz, California, formed in 2004. They are well known for their frantic live shows and anarchist politics. They have toured Europe, the Continental US and Alaska.
2004-2007: Formation and demos
Blackbird Raum was formed in 2004 by banjoist C.P.N and accordionist Zack while wilderness squatting in Santa Cruz, California. The band was haphazard at first, playing gigs and busking with a band randomly composed of other squatters living in or around Santa Cruz. Initially the band was not a success, and they made their first dollar from a man on a date who paid them to leave. During this period, they wrote some of the songs that are considered their classic material, including "Honey in the Hair" and "Coal". They also recorded a demo. After some frustrations with chaotic nature of the lineup, C.P.N left Santa Cruz for a year to play in other projects. When he returned he and Zack agreed to try the band again and a lineup was cemented with the addition of K.C. on washboard, David on washtub bass and Mars on musical saw and mandolin. They quickly wrote new material and recorded what was to be their first album: Purse-Seine, named after the poem by Robinson Jeffers.
The band were very unsatisfied with Purse-Seine and sought to quickly correct their mistakes. The result was a new album, Swidden. They went through a period of heavy touring, doing a full U.S. tour along with several others. Two years later they followed up with Under the Starling Host. During the release of UTSH, the band members set up a small collectively run anarchist record label called Black Powder to support other radical folk projects, including the Hail Seizures. After the release of UTSH the band took a hiatus for a few years, playing few gigs. After the 2011 release of the Hail Seizures/Blackbird Raum split 7" K.C. left the band.
2012-2013: "False Weavers"
In 2012 Blackbird Raum regrouped, replacing K.C. on washboard with Allen Degenerate and signing to Silver Sprocket Bicycle Club for the release of False Weavers in 2013. Recorded at John Vanderslice's Tiny Telephone studio, the album marked a change in sound, with psychedelic touches the band has attributed to their love of Chumbawamba and Crass. Five months of touring in the US and Europe followed.
2015-present: "Destroying," Mars's departure, and "NeverMind The Ballads"
Following the release of False Weavers, the band teamed up with Dublin based folk band "Lankum" (then called Lynched) to create a new album "Destroying," released in 2015. The bands toured together following the release of the album. After the tour, the band announced the departure of Mars. Mars had been contributing to vocals and songwriting greatly, as well as playing the mandolin, musical saw and other instruments. After Mars left, the band took a short break before a short tour followed by the release of an EP titled "Nevermind The Ballads" in 2016.
Lyrical and ideological influences
Blackbird Raum's lyrics tend to paint a bleak picture of modern society, focusing on issues like the destruction of the environment, mental illness, and class warfare. They have described themselves as eco-anarchists.
In an interview with The Sunday Times of Malta, banjo player C.P.N. had this to say about their political views:
It's clear that if industrial/consumer civilisation continues on its current course we will eradicate life on the planet. The sea is filled with plastic bags and there is more dioxin in the breast milk of American mothers than the amount legally acceptable for cows. Past attempts to redress the ills of capitalism have led to even worse horrors. We’d all rather live in Sweden than North Korea, but the Scandinavians produce trash and toxic waste like any other country. Change is confusing and dangerous, but it’s a dire necessity. One thing is clear: the answer will come from people, not power.
The lyrics and song names often contain references to historical events, ancient myths and cultural icons:
- "Silent Spring," which references the book Silent Spring by Rachel Carson
- "Lucasville," a song about the riot in the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility
- "The Helm of Ned Kelly," talking about the Australian bushranger Ned Kelly
- "Old One Eye," making an incorrect reference to Odin's sacrifice in Norse Mythology.
- "Ravachol in Valhalla" which references the Illegalist anarchist Ravachol
- Purse-Seine - 2007, Quiver Distro
- Swidden - 2008, Quiver Distro
- Under the Starling Host - 2009, Black Powder Records
- Split 7" w/ Hail Seizures - 2011, Go Records
- False Weavers - 2013, Silver Sprocket
- Destroying - 2015, Silver Sprocket
- Nevermind the Ballads - 2016, No Time Records
- "Blackbird Raum: Santa Cruz Radicals". SantaCruz.com. April 16, 2013.
- "Black Powder Records". Black Powder Press. Archived from the original on 2013-07-25.
- "Blackbird Raum 2013 Europe Tour". Sepiachord. June 6, 2013.
- "Stoneborn II: We're All Playing Cards as the Ship Goes Down..." Hammer Smashed Sound. March 31, 2011.
- "Free as a (black) bird". Times of Malta. July 3, 2011.
- Audio/video media