Arlie Patton, Gabe Patton, Shawn Gatlin, & Michael Nightingale - Blackbird

July 3, 2004

Tell me about the band.

Gabe: It basically started at birth being brothers but he started playing some acoustic stuff and got burned out. We broke up for a while and then he started playing under the name Blackbird and me and Shawn basically came back to the band. Then added Mike and then started playing out of Blackbird. Basically that's how it came together.

Where did you get that name from?

Arlie: The name came from watching E! TV and there was a plane that was called Blackbird. Something Blackbird. I liked the name. I thought it was a really strong name. One word that's very strong. It's actually two words but one to me that is very strong so I thought that sounded like a cool name. That's what we went with.

You guys basically play straight ahead rock.

Gabe: Yeah.

Arlie: Yeah, definitely. There's no scream mode or things like that. We're just a very solid rock band and we try to add somewhat of a look to it and play solid music.

Yeah, I noticed that you're attractive boys. That's a good thing.

Arlie: Me personally, I was just tired of the whole gasoline attendant thing. I thought we should look more...rock stars should look like rock stars. We decided that's what we were going to do.

I was reading someone's bio where they said they hated huge pants.

Arlie: It had to probably be my brother. We're the leather boys type guys so we're always wearing leather pants or some cool jeans. But nothing that looks like we took a load in our pants or anything like that.

Yeah, I like boys with hair and pants that fit. I grew up during the 70's and early 80's so I'm rather used to that.

Michael: Yeah, we just took the whole fun and dress up from the 80's and made it more of a modern sort of thing with mixing the Converse and leaving out the pinks, yellows, and light blues.

I have your demo. Tell me about the songs.

Shawn: "Unstoppable" basically came about from a riff that Arlie had. A guitar riff. We open with that a lot because it says what the band is about. Our mindset on how we're approaching this band and whatnot. Just doing our own look thing and not worrying about it. Just going to keep doing it and doing it and doing it until people get it. "The Hell You Put Me Through" is the second. I think that's some sort of a ballad song. Again he starts with the music. That one was really hard to put together. It started out a little more funky and then we kind of left it alone for a while and then we came back with just a straight four on the floor beat. That brought it all together.

Arlie: Yeah, exactly. The drums were what made it work because before was had went away for six months and then he threw that beat on it. If anyone would try that song he had and throw that straight beat on it, and he threw it on there, that's what made the whole song slick.

Gabe: Lyrically, it's just the basic man or woman, depending on which sex you are, just the torment and heartache sort of thing. The hell you put me through with a little touch of revenge in it. You know it will soon come back to you.

Michael: The third one is "The One".

Shawn: That's actually a positive one. It's a happy one.

Arlie: Basically, it's another love scene but for me it was more about the band but if you listen to the lyrics it sounds more about a girl but it's more for me about the band. I thought when I wrote the song that this is the band I want to play in. It was very well rounded. There wasn't one guy you always had to worry about that wasn't with the program. I was like this is the band for me but the song goes "you're the one for me." Basically for me, it was the band. This is the band I want to play in. These are the guys that look like rock stars, play like rock stars, and are a great live band. That's the kind of band I wanted. The fourth was a song called "Turn Around". It's an up tempo song. We usually play it third live just because it's a very up tempo song. When I wrote it, it was just like I went and tried the whole L.A. thing and we live in L.A. It's like we moved from central California, northern California, moved down there and it was just like when you first get there you just want to turn around and go back where you came from. The town was just kicking our butts. That's basically what the song is about. Very highly energetic and we ended up kicking the butt over there so it worked out good. The last one would be "Never Enough".

Gabe: "Never Enough" is a straight hard rock song. Lyrically, it's just basically about not being able to please your partner or whoever you're with in a material sort of way. Sexually you always get that done very well.

Some people do anyway.

Gabe: Yeah, so that's it about that. Basically not being able to please the person you're with.

I was down in L.A. for my birthday once. It's a cool place.

Arlie: Yeah, it is. It's very cool It's a hard town to win over.

Gabe: Yeah, I live there. It's great.

Michael: Very hard but we've been putting our work in and the band's getting out and we're doing very well right now actually. We've got a show coming up on the 23rd of July at The Whisky. We're doing it with Handsome Devil and another local act from there that's doing pretty well right now too. I can't remember their name.

Gabe: I think it's Dog Days.

Arlie: Yeah, something like that. It's just everything is starting to swing for us right now. Working very well. We're hoping to start working with a gentleman down there that's going to actually start doing some showcasing down there. We should be getting some action here pretty soon hopefully.

Shawn: The Whisky's giving us a lot of good shows too. Looks like some stuff may be panning out with Brides Of Destruction and stuff like that. It's not for sure but if anybody is going to get the support slot it would definitely be going to us because the girl down there, Gina, is really happy about the band and likes it so she's giving us some really good shows. Skid Row is also another.

Arlie: They offered us the Skid Row show right now. We wanted to do it on October 31 but we're going to see how it works out but right now I have to say we're doing very well.

Gabe: We're getting ready to record the new tape as well. We're actually writing some new songs right now. Like right at this moment. For the next tape to sort of choose from. We'll definitely have a new tape coming out soon.

Arlie: We also will be probably putting out a DVD. An eight song DVD that was shot by Music Guild. They're out of L.A. It's eight songs and totally live. We shot it for a Japanese and a Korean television show. It sounds really good.

Gabe: It's totally professional like three cameras through the board. It sounds and looks great.

Arlie: It's very highly mixed and the guy took a lot of time. Got to thank that guy. It came out very well.

Do you guys have any full length CDs out?

Gabe: No. For me, my thought process is I really don't want to lay down like a few grand and record a whole album. I'd rather let a label do that for me. Just go out and make a few songs and if they get that then we'll take it from there. If they want to hear more songs then we'll go in and just knock something out real quick. We sell them and it does everything a full length CD does. People buy it on the Net and we sell them at shows so it's basically the same thing. We've put out full length records before but for me it's really no different.

Arlie: We want the deal. We want the record deal.

You guys haven't found one yet?

Gabe: We've had some indie labels like Fast Lane and some stuff like that but nothing that we wanted to sign with. We're really waiting for this new CD to come out as well because that first CD that's out, we were just sort of getting things together and kind of figuring out which way we wanted to go as far as the band. Now we're a little more organized and comfortable with who we're playing with and what we're doing as far as musically.

Arlie: Very well put. There are a lot of indie labels that want to sign us right now. I've got contracts. I'm just not signing them because I think this band as we are, and I feel me personally, that this is a band that could do very well. We have the full package. We're good musicians. We look good and we're a very good live band. For me I'm willing to wait a little.

That's understandable. You don't want to get yourself into something you can't get out of.

Arlie: You put it exactly how we think. We don't want to get into something to where something bigger comes along and I can't accept it because I'm stuck on a smaller label. Nothing against small labels. If I found the right one that had the right distribution I'd probably think about it. Some of them have all right distribution but how much are they going to push you. I'm just looking for the right deal that fits Blackbird that's all.

I've heard a lot of horror stories from established bands that signed contracts and got screwed out of a bunch of money.

Arlie: We've had those kind of deals. We had some deals where we saw a company that is attached to a big label. When we asked about the big label, they were so big to go "oh well, you know that's really none of your concern right now." I'm going well yeah, it is because if I'm signing this contract it's my concern. What your affiliation is with the big label. I had guy tell me it really wasn't my concern. I was like well I guess I'm not signing with you bro. I want the deal to be equal to everybody. It suits everybody in the band or we wouldn't sign. We do everything as four. It keeps the band working. It keeps us together, that's for sure and on the same team.

Who are some of your major musical influences?

Gabe: I'd say drummers, my influences are probably Pete Thomas from Elvis Costello, Tommy Lee, Steve Gorman from the Black Crows, and probably Dave Lombardo from Slayer. Probably would be the people that have influenced me the most from the beginning of playing until now. Musically, KISS started me out and I like a lot of different kinds of music though right now. I pick and choose what I like and basically right now I'm listening to Eddie Money, Dwight Yoakam, The Darkness, Chris Isaac. Just all kinds of weird things that I like. That's about it.

Shawn: I'm more like sort of into goth/punk rock. The Cure, Sex Pistols, stuff like that. As far as guitar players, I'd say Brian Baker guy from Bad Religion. People like that.

Michael: I'm really into the New York Dolls and New York old school punk. Ramones. Big Geezer Butler fan too from Black Sabbath.

Arlie: Biggest influence for me is Sam Cooke which is an old soul singer. That's kind of weird but that's probably my favorite singer. Favorite front man though, I'd have to go with Paul Stanley just because he always puts on that bigger than life rock starish type thing and I like that. I'd say music, about the same as my brother. I started off on KISS but like him my influences are a little different. I like Urge Overkill, I like the Manic Street Preachers. The Manic Street Preachers are probably my favorite right now. Like him I listen to a lot of variety of music. Humble Pie. I'm a big Steve Marriott fan which is the singer. He's one of my influences. So is John Fogerty. That's basically about it. The weirdest thing about this band is we're such different people. We look the same and we have the same goal in mind but musically, one guy is Black Sabbath. One guy is The Cure. One guy listens to The Rolling Stones and Elvis Costello. Then the other guy listens to soul music. When it comes together, that's what Blackbird is. Just a mixture of good rock.

That makes for good chemistry.

Michael: Yes, I think the chemistry we have now is the best in this band. This is what it's about.

Gabe: Yeah, we're all madly in love with each other right now.

Arlie: Then again somebody could pee on my amp and then there'd be a big problem.

Especially for the guy who pees on the amp. He might get electrocuted.

Arlie: If somebody pisses in my Cheerios there could be all kinds of problems. Normally we're loving.

If you guys could tour with any band, who would it be?

Arlie: I'd like to tour with The Darkness just because I want to go up there and give them what we got. I'd love to tour just because we're competitive with the Foo Fighters. I think it would be a good bill. I'd also like to tour with Jet because I think we'd go over good with them.

Gabe: I'd like to tour with Twisted Sister and Judas Priest. I love Dee Snider and I think it would be great to get out there and do "We're Not Gonna Take It". All of us together. It would be a beautiful thing.

Dee Snider rocks. Tell me about your tattoos.

Gabe: I've got a lot of tattoos. I've got a skull and crossbones, music note, horseshoe, ace of spades, leopard skin star, dragon. A bunch of stuff. Basically two sleeves.

What got you interested in tattoos?

Gabe: I'd say a mixture of Guns N' Roses and my dad. My dad has tattoos but I never really noticed them until I was 17 or 18. I was like whoa, my dad has tattoos.

Arlie likes to talk about his dogs.

Arlie: Yeah, I have a Great Dane. He's called The Mural. He's gray and black and white. Then I also have a Pit Bull. He's going to be 16 in September. His name is Tyson. I'm a big dog lover and my dogs sometimes tend to rule my life just because I like my dogs a lot. I only got two. I can't get any more. I get too attached and then I get too heartbroken when something happens. My Pit Bull got sick the other day and I was like aaaahhh this is going to be tough. I am a dog person, that's for sure. My brother is the exact opposite. He's a cat person. He loves his cats like I love my dogs I think.

Gabe: I'm actually making cat payments to my ex-wife. Fifteen dollars a month. Insanity. For litter and food and shit. It's hilarious.

Is that in place of alimony?

Arlie: I've never even heard of catimony. I guess I would because if I had to see my dogs I'd pay.

Gabe: Either that or she was going to keep them. That's what she told me anyway.

Arlie: You know how women are. Evil.

Yeah, we're evil. Arlie is a NASCAR and Formula One fan.

Arlie: Yes, I am. What I am the biggest fan of is drag racing. I go every year. I'm going this year to Las Vegas to go to the drag racing. I think Castrol Oil whatever drag races up there. I'm actually going down there for vacation to watch it on the 30th I believe or 31st down there. Me and my dad go every year. Gabe used to go a long time ago. Now he's big into music and I'm big into racing and music.

I love NASCAR and Formula One too.

Arlie: Who's your driver?

Formula One would be Michael Schumacher and NASCAR is Jeff Gordon.

Arlie: You know what? You're all right. I'm going to let you keep interviewing me. I'm a Jeff Gordon fan although I'm a Kimi Raikkonen fan but Schumacher is the man and I have to admit that.

He is the man. You guys said you're working on new songs. When do we get to hear those?

Gabe: We're hoping in about two months at the latest. As far as packaging it and artwork and recording and getting them printed and all that. I'd say probably safely in two months tops.

Arlie: Yeah, I'd say two months at the latest. Two of the new songs we've got really polished. About another five we're currently working on. Maybe six we're currently working on but the two new songs. One of them is called "Somewhere Between You And Me" which is a great song but like I said it's still in the working process. We have another song called "Living Alone" which is a ballad which is a very good song.

Gabe: Yeah, they're both really good.

Michael: They both will be on the DVD.

You guys do your shows basically in the California area?

Arlie: No, we went to the East Coast too. We did Boston, New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia, Atlantic City. We plan on going out this summer too. We're going to be doing up in Seattle, Portland, Washington.

Gabe: Then we have some things coming up in Arizona.

Shawn: We're going to go back to New York again.

Gabe: Yeah, we have that option too.

Arlie: We had a blast and they want to set us up back down there to play again. We played The Continental down there. It was a blast. The last show Joey Ramone played was at The Continental so it was cool for us.

Any other thoughts or comments?

Gabe: Thank you so much.

Arlie: Yeah, thank you.