Blue Coupe – The Eleven Even Interview

Classic Rock fans – check out the new album from legendary rockers – Dennis Dunaway, Albert Bouchard, and Joe Bouchard – better known as Blue Coupe!
Here the bandmembers answers questions about their brand new album, as well as their big showing at the Sweden Rock Festival this past summer.
You can check out the album at the band’s site, as well as youtube, and order it at various sites online.

Eleven Even is the band’s 3rd album, 6 years past Million Miles More. When did you guys really decide and start putting the songs together for this album?

DD – 3 albums in 11 years is a far cry from 2 albums and 2 major tours per year like in our glory days, but we still enjoy doing what we do.

AB – We started in December of 2017. We decided that we were each being pulled in different musical directions and wanted to re-energize ourselves to this band and the way to do that was a record of completely new material.

JB – This project started at the end of 2017. We rehearsed for over a year because we wanted to do the best album we’d ever done. The first two albums it seemed like we barely rehearsed. We wanted to go back to the drawing board and relive the way it was done in the 70s.

blue coupe 11 even

First thing that stands out on the new album is the artwork – very bright, eye catching – put together by Richard Zoll. Can you tell me a bit about how this was chosen and how important is it still to have a memorable album cover [in this day & age] compared to the 70s [where album art was a big deal on it’s own]?

DD – Richard Zoll is an artist. We give him the name and a few ideas but basically he just keeps sending different designs until everybody says Yeah!

AB – I’ve known Richard as a fan, Astro, back in the early 90s and started really appreciating his talent as an artist when he designed posters for the three 2016 BOC shows at BB Kings. We all agreed that we wanted him to design the cover of this new BC album.

JB – We went through several designs with wild ranges of styles. This looked good when we first saw it, a few little tweaks and it was ready.

Tish & Snooky are more prominent on this album. What’s the band’s history with the sisters? They definitely add to the sound & feel of the new album. Might we see them in more live shows?

DD – The Darlings of the Demented, as we like to call them, are always the icing on the cake and the extra pizzazz in our shows, but running Manic Panic is time consuming so we have to settle for working together whenever they can.

AB – I’ve known and loved them since the early 70s when I went to every Sick F*ks show I could. When we were making our first album, “Tornado On The Tracks” we all wanted them to sing backgrounds on as many songs as they could fit into their schedule. They loved working with us and since then they have appeared in nearly half our live dates and sang background vocals (and even have a couple solo vocals on the new record) on every single recorded track. Manic Panic is their first child but I would wager Blue Coupe is their second.

blue coupe t&s

The first track you put out was “D Train”, written by the late David Roter. Was this song originally released elsewhere and how/why did you guys decide on recording it?

DD – That’s one of the songs that Albert brought to the table. We’ve all taken that subway, or “the can” as I like to call it, to Brooklyn.

AB – That song was a demo I did with my last band Brain Surgeons but never was released. When we were getting the demos together for this new record Joe brought it in and said a fan, Mark Grosch, had sent it to him and suggested we consider it. We started developing our own version and played it live. It seemed to resonate with us and our fans. Ultimately out of the 40 or so songs we considered, it made the cut. The turning point came when Dennis developed his amazing bass part which freed up the vocal and guitar emote the story of the song.

D Train has such a different feel, very bass driven, and it feels like it would fit nicely in an old 60s cop show or something. Can you describe a bit about the story behind it lyrically and that sound?

DD – The demo had a more precision mechanical feel but I tried to make my bass part be more rambling like a real subway sounds. The lyrics sound far fetched but they really capture the feel of that late night ride.

A lot of the band’s songs are story based or based on observations in your life. Can you give me a few antidotes to some of the tracks and where the ideas come from — Hey Sheriff, Rendezvous In Pale Moonlight, Simple Answers Kill, Tank Man, Day After Day …

DD – Rendezvous In Pale Moonlight is born of imagery of a surreal dream. It’s about a timeless woman in a flowing dress in the pale moonlight.

Day After Day (Runnin’ Away) is about a classic love triangle. She has to make the choice of ending an empty relationship for one that has true love.

AB – Bitter Game has lyrics from Dennis. To me it is a commentary on the perilous landscape of the internet where cyber attacks can ruin a person’s finances or even disrupt a presidential election.

Blood For Blood is sort of self explanatory about the futility of vengeance. I originally wrote this one with my friend from Texas, Kathy Vargas, but Dennis was concerned about the preachy tone of it and retooled the lyrics to be more of a commentary on the human condition than a vilification of people who seek vengeance. Like most of the songs on this new record it is deeper than it seems, like an iceberg.

JB – Simple Answers Kill is a story that relates to the problems in society that are pretty universal. Sometimes immigrants are feared at first, but getting to know the person can change things around. It’s a reflection of the current situation with Trump and the wall. The reality is there no easy answers to many of these problems, but this is a cautionary tale of modern times.

Tank Man is a song about the famous showdown with protesters at Tiananmen Square in China in 1989. It was the 30th anniversary this year. This song was easy to write since the story is so strong and still resonates today. I’m hoping that younger people will hear it and take a closer look at what is still going on in this crazy world. I’ve created a lyric video that shows where the song originated.

This album seems to have much more of a retro / 70s feel to it ; there seems to be more tracks I can see as fitting on old BOC or AC albums. Would you agree and [if so] was it deliberate?

DD – We talked a lot about what kind of album we wanted to make. The dominant ideas were based on the latest trends of vinyl albums and pot. We decided to feature Joe’s lead playing and more harmonies. But like Million Miles More, we wanted to have a live feel.

AB – Yes, after our first practice for the new record we had a serious discussion of what we were trying to accomplish with this new record. One of the things that came out was that we wanted to create this record as much like we created our past favorite records as we could.

We used to be proud that we were the band that never practiced but we can no longer claim that dubious honor. We practiced on a nearly weekly basis for over a year and 90% of all arrangement ideas developed in these practice sessions.

Joe – co-wrote a couple of songs with sci-fi writer John Shirley. How did those come about? [He writes his own albums, novels, and has written with BOC]. Through the BOC connection?

JB – John Shirley heard some songs from my last solo album called “Playin’ History” that came out in 2017. He sent me a short email that said he liked my work, and was a fan. I emailed him right back and said, even though my knowledge of sci-fi genre is pretty weak, I was a fan of his. Also, I said to send me some lyrics if could. He sent 3, then two more, and then a couple more. He lives in Portland Oregon so all this was done by email. I ended up writing with Blue Öyster Cult in mind, since they are looking for material for a new BOC album (the first in over 20 years) that is supposed to be released next summer. I sent songs to Buck Dharma and he was somewhat interested. But I strongly doubt they will use anything of mine. So Albert and Dennis liked Simple Answers Kill and Break Through the Wall so we recorded those for Blue Coupe.

AB – Actually I discovered John Shirley when I was still in BOC. He had written a book called Transmaniacon (after a BOC song Transmaniacon MC) and a friend put me in touch with him. He sent me lyrics then but I never had an opportunity to work with him until now. BTW I think Simple Answers Kill is the deepest song on the record.

You guys played the Sweden Rock Fest this past summer. How did that event go over? Any highlights from that show?

DD – The Sweden Rock Festival is one of the biggest in the world. Blue Coupe closed the 4 days following Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow. We waited until their final song, and when the crowd was dispersing, we kicked into “Cities On Flame (With Rock and Roll)” and the crowd came right over to our stage and we were off and running.

AB – I’ve always felt the strength of this band is the live show but it has been hard to get the word out. It was gratifying to be able to do what we do in front a huge audience and receive the feedback that was way beyond what we expected. I do have to say that it didn’t hurt that we practiced so much in the previous year, even though it was not those songs.

JB – Sweden Rock Fest was amazing. The crew know just what to do to make our show look and sound amazing. We also had a Swedish film crew record the whole event and that came out great. I’m releasing videos of all the songs usually on a weekly basis until January. I also have footage that may become part of a longer documentary.

I see in more recent shows [summer 2019], the Blue Coupe setlist has kind of reverted back to more BOC and AC classics, and less of your own tunes. Is it a tough position & decision sometime to be in – whether you play more of your original material or pull out more classic tracks from your previous bands?

DD – We have a lot of songs. If it’s a 2 hour set, we can do half of them. If it’s 45 minutes, we usually stick to our classics with a few surprises.

AB – I love playing the old songs but it is a little frustrating not having time to play these new songs that we have worked on so hard for so long. We just need more gigs where we can do 3 hour shows with a break in the middle for oxygen and B12 shots.

JB – We have to play to the majority, and some feel cheated without hearing their favorite songs. But we always slip in a few surprises, and a deep cut or two. It’s fun to mix it up.

You guys have done numerous shows over the past decade, many high profile gigs like the Sweden Rock Fest, and plenty of others which fans can find on youtube. Might we see any live shows released as a Blue Coupe live album in the near future?

DD – Watch for a music video of the Sweden Rock Festival. Joe’s production is pro.

JB – Sweden was an exception to most gigs since they recorded the whole show on a digital multitrack. It all fit unto a couple of thumb drives. It sounded great and it was easy to do remixes of all the songs. It is very time consuming but, I hope to do it again.

Will we see some Blue Coupe shows further out [i.e. Southern Ontario, maybe down the east coast, or further west] to promote Eleven Even? Anything in the works and/or being rehearsed?

DD – All it ever takes is a decent offer and we will be there with cowbells in hand.

AB – Amen, moo.

JB – Hope to see you soon. Thanks!

*all pics from the band’s website
KJJ, Nov.’19.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.