The latest release from Philadelphia one-man-band Bleed The Rads, aka Stapes, represents a major evolution of his musical style. Having started out with a fairly minimal electronic meets pop approach, he’s slowly introduced instruments to the mix to create a more rocky sound that, we think, is much for the better.
We took a listen to Truculence, the closing track and our favourite track as it happens, from his new EP Wild Sneak, which was released last Friday.
It opens with a light guitar riff that continues under a laid-back opening verse, then a few repeats of the line “Have you all got the onions.” It builds up to a catchier chorus “I read the same lines over again because the words don’t read right in my head, Like I was born, kid, but not last night, And can you guess what colour I’m wearing in black and white?, I’ve never been less ready for anything in my life, And that’s alright, Yeah, that’s alright.”
A cool high-pitched guitar lick kicks in over a plodding bassline, then feeds into a final chorus. Give it a listen below:
We had a chat with Stapes to find out a bit more about him and his music, read on below…
GR: Who are Bleed the Rads?
Stapes: “Bleed the Rads is just me, and everyone I know just calls me Stapes. Since starting the project in 2016, I’ve written, recorded, produced, and played all of the instruments on every track myself. And I’m from Philly.”
GR: You just released Truculence. What should people be expecting from the song?
Stapes: “People should expect a heavier sound so to speak on this track, which may sound foreign to those that have listened to my earlier music before, but it’s always an itch I want to scratch. Though my first album, POV, was entirely minimal electronic, I’ve been introducing live instrumentation on singles and EPs ever since then for better or for worse and figuring it out as I go.
“My two loves in life are music and ice hockey, and when I’m not doing anything music-related with my free time, I try to do anything hockey related. For a while now, I’ve been writing down lines that I’ve heard players, coaches, commentators and analysts say that I like. So when I had this tougher sounding track, I decided to put those lines to the music and build the song around them. I typically write a song and figure out what it means later, so for now, it’s just meaningless hockey tropes. But I think the intangibles and values the game of hockey has taught me can apply to anything in life, and maybe someone pulls something out of one of the lines on this track. I certainly do.”
GR: How would you describe your sound to people that haven’t listened to you yet?
Stapes: “Raw to a fault pop music. While I think I can write a decent song, or at the very least a song from an honest place, I’ll be the first to admit that I suck at the production side of things. But I believe my limitations and lack of production skills help me to sound a little different and not so on the grid and cookie cutter so I embrace that.
“That’s not to say I don’t want to improve at it, though. I have to stop myself from thinking how much I’m leaving on the table and that my songs would be better received or better understood as to where I’m coming from if I was a better producer or just worked with someone that was, but that wouldn’t be true to where I’m at right now.”
GR: What influences you to write music? Any key themes or topics that you write about?
Stapes: “My writing and my music is simply the place I find it the easiest to say the things I couldn’t say in a given moment, things I’d say if a certain moment came along, the feelings I can’t share with people personally, thoughts of what could or could not have been… I could go on and on. I put up a front in life and the way I project myself changes daily, so music is the outlet for me to express my real self.
GR: Which bands/musicians are/have been your strongest musical influences?
Stapes: “I’d say just about all of my music has been me failing to replicate little sounds I hear that resonate with me. That could be a Bon Iver vocal effect, a Bush, My Bloody Valentine, or Georgia Satellites guitar tone, a kick or snare from an OutKast song, or the sub-bass I hear in trap beats.
“That’s probably why my music comes off as a little overcooked because I’m trying to fit so many different sounds that are dissonant and clash into one song. But in trying to sound like someone else, I’ve started to sound like myself. Inspiration for me doesn’t have to be strictly related to music itself, either. I’m influenced by an artist’s personal style, personalities, or even fanbases like that of the Grateful Dead.”
GR: What have you got coming up through the rest of 2019?
“I’ve released a song or two or more a month consecutively for just about two straight years now and I don’t plan on stopping anytime soon. Trucelence is being released on a 5-song EP called Wild Sneak, but I already have another single ready to be released on 1 August. I’d expect a few more singles, another EP, and maybe a cover will take me into next year.
“I consider myself more of a recording artist, so playing shows has never been high on the list for me. I just like writing, recording, and releasing my stuff. But I want to sit back, take the time to write an album of substance, and make touring that and all of the other material I’d have released to that point a goal for 2020.”
GR: Anything else you’d like people to know about you/your music?
Stapes: “Just how much it means to me that anyone takes the time to listen. Any like, follow, comment, or message after the fact is just a bonus.”