Discover more from Discourse Blog
Talking to Paul Blest (!) About His Band's (!!) New EP (!!!)
Discourse Blogger Emeritus and eternal comrade Paul has new music out NOW. Yes!!!!!!!!
The world is so unrelentingly awful these days, what with the apocalyptic weather and perennial corporate shitheadedness and general sense of Nordic gloom, that we all deserve to stop and savor any opportunity to kvell over something good whenever we get the chance.
With that in mind, I strongly encourage you all to direct your kvelling toward Discourse Blogger Emeritus Paul Blest, whose band Long Relief just released their first EP, No Growth, today on Bandcamp and other streaming sites. Folks, it’s good. It’s really good. And I’m not saying that because Paul is a lifetime Friend of the Blog (FoB). I’m saying it because I’ve had the album’s eponymous single running laps around my brain ever since Paul shared it with me ahead of today’s release. It pays to be a Friend of Paul (FoP).
This interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity.
Tell me about the band, man. Who's who? Who does what?
I played music when I was younger, like in high school and college. When I moved to Raleigh, when I was 25, I didn't play so much anymore. Right before the pandemic, I started doing some stuff on my own again. And then everything shut down right before I was about to play my first show in town so I just kind of filed it away. Then me and my friend, Chris, who's been in a bunch of local bands down here, started writing songs together in the summer of 2021 for what was going to be a completely different-sounding band, which just kind of faded into what this is now.
Around the same time my friend Greg Hughes, who plays drums, moved to Raleigh. I met him in Florida like 10 years ago while my old band was on tour. I just wanted to be in a band with him, because he's one of the nicest people I know. That just worked out pretty perfectly. Then our friend Jeremiah, who's been friends with Chris for, like, 15 years at this point—he knew how to play bass, and yeah, that's how it came together.
The album comes out Friday, and you've got the single out, “No Growth.” The album is also called No Growth. Tell me about how that came together. What's the writing and recording process like for you guys?
There's one song on it called “Slippery” that I wrote before this was a band and recorded with a friend of mine, Mike Robinson, who actually mastered the EP. We just started playing that song when we all started playing together. Most of the time either Chris or I will come to the rest of the band with a riff, or Jeremiah will come to the rest of the band with a riff or lyrics. Then we just start hashing it out. Sometimes it just happens right away. Sometimes it takes weeks or months. So I'm practicing and consistently playing it over and over again for us to come up with something. These songs that we recorded, we recorded them back in December. By the time we were recording them, they were already very old to us. We already had like five or six songs written for a full length that we're hopefully going to be doing early next year. It was good to have that time to just flesh them out and figure out what we were doing.
Are you more of a music or lyrics person?
Sometimes I can come up with a riff and lyrics and sometimes I'll come to them with a whole song that I've recorded on voice memos on my phone that's just me and an acoustic guitar. Like, the absolute shittiest way that you could do it. Sometimes somebody else will just write a song and then I'll put lyrics to it, which is a lot more difficult for me because it goes back to me being like 17 and doing full punk stuff. I just can't shut up and that’s where my songwriting process comes from. That's sort of another thing: learning how to be in a band again after being apart from that for so long.
Tell me about what it's like to be in a band again.
It's just really fun. I mean, that's the number one thing. Playing shows again has just been so good for my mental health. I know that you probably have this too: just getting into a career and growing older, there's some things that you used to do that you just don't do anymore. And then when you start doing them again, you rediscover this love you have for it. It's not even just music with me. Whenever I play a sport or something, it's just like, “oh this comes back. This brings me joy.” So playing shows, this is the first real band where I'm playing guitar and exploring that side of things. It's been so good over the last couple of years. I don't know if I would have gotten through the last couple of years without being able to play music again and play it in front of people. Honestly, it's done wonders for my brain.
You've been gigging around North Carolina for, what, a year or two now?
Yeah, we played our first show June 24th of last year, and we've played shows in North Carolina. We did a show in Greensboro, and a lot of Raleigh shows. This summer we're going to be going down to Charlotte for the first time, which is going to be fun. Then in the fall, we're playing The Fest in Gainesville, which is something that I went to for five years in a row when I was younger, and my old band played. It's kind of like the punk mega-festival. Then Hopscotch is in Raleigh. The Hopscotch lineup is the best it's been since I moved down here. It's just stacking so many bands that made me want to start playing music in the first place. Alvvays is my favorite band playing music right now. They're playing it. It’s unreal that we're getting to play both these shows.
What are you looking forward to, both as a performer and as an audience member?
Honestly, just getting to be around so many good bands. I drove to Toronto last year to see Alvvays, so getting to see them and then being able to sleep on my bed afterward is gonna be great. Also seeing Sunny Day Real Estate. That's been a huge band for me since I was like, 14, and for some reason they never come to North Carolina. So I'm really excited to see that. Some of the best things I've ever played before, and some of the shows I’ve ever been to have been at Hopscotch.
Okay, if you could have any band cover you who would it be and why?
Is this a band that's still around?
Whatever you want.
Okay, well, we've covered the Cranberries before so if the Cranberries were an option, then them. If not the Cranberries we’ve also covered the Gin Blossoms so maybe—
You've covered the Gin Blossoms?
We cover the Gin Blossoms. There are multiple people that came up to me like, “Of course you cover the Gin Blossoms.”
Who do you guys get compared to most frequently?
A lot of people that come up to us at shows say Dinosaur Jr. I love Dinosaur Jr. and they are also playing Hopscotch, and that's such a compliment. I think we have a ways to go before we get to that. I love that band, and I love that comparison. I was honestly shocked when people started saying [that.] I think it also kind of has to do with the fact that I look like J Mascis. I’ll take it. If I have to dye my hair gray, I'll do that too.
Last question: Blogging or music?
I love music, but I'm a blogger through and through. I think music is blogging at the end of the day. I mean, it's like three minutes long. The songs we write at least are three minutes long. Very digestible.
Long Relief’s debut EP No Growth is available now.