Sunday, August 20, 2006

The Place You Used To Live

Those who have skimmed even the most basic Killers bio, like the one on myspace, have seen that:
Brandon got kicked out of his synth-pop band, named Blush Response, in late 2002 after refusing to move to L.A. with them. He realised after seeing Oasis perform in Vegas, that life needed more guitars.

: This tiny fraction of pre-history in The Killers bio has always intrigued me. I spent a lot of time on the internet in 2002 on synthpop forums actively searching for new groups but I had never heard of Blush Response until I read that bio. The reason is that the Billie Schubert, Trevor Gagner & Brandon Flowers never released anything as Blush Response. However I've done a bit of looking around and patched together what I know into something of a history. Their only official release came as Subversion on Ninthwave Records "Electrity" compilation in 2001 before the "Blade Runner" inspired name change. "The Victim" is a fairly basic take on use-the-chords-of-a-classical-piece-and-call-it-a-new-song approach that Flowers would go on to use to better effect on "Mr Brightside" and it lacks the maturity that the band's other material. However, it does contain the most clear moment that I've found of Flowers being influenced by the Pet Shop Boys because at 2:30 into the song it is only an all male choir away from transforming into the Boys version of "Go West".
In 2001 Blush Response recorded a two song demo with Brian Hazard of Color Theory which is the source of the band's only other known recorded material and the results were a huge leap forward. Both tracks are in the moody synthpop vein not far from the lush ambient technopop of the early 90's. Stepping up from the fairly muddy sound of Subversion the music is focused but never feels rushed giving all the elements room to breathe. While Flowers hadn't taken on the role of vocalist yet the subject matter of both songs, struggling with sin, suggest he was involved with some of the lyrics given that the themes would be played out again with The Killers.
Would have Flowers gone on to success with Blush Response? Probably not. Sadly "life need(s) more guitars" to reach a mainstream audience in the US, but it's not like The Killers are a bad thing. They've got a good album under their belts and have really broken through to the mainstream like few bands I like ever do.
The other two members of Blush Response appear to have moved on from music. From what I understand the feelings bruising move to LA proved to be fairly temporary and they ultimately ended up on the East Coast. Both have kept an extremely low profile online and haven't attempted to profit from the exposure that The Killers bio offers even if there is New Zealand synthpop group with a remarkably similar name that might be trying to cash in. Perhaps the glamorous rock 'n' roll life just wasn't for them.

Subversion- The Victim(napster)

Blush Response- Your Sinister Heart

Blush Response- I'm Not A Saint

UPDATE 12/31/10
Comments posted on this page have brought up a few things over the years.  When I originally posted this I wasn't clear on the nature of Flowers contributions to the Blush Response-era tracks.  Brian Hazard, the producer of the Blush Response tracks referred to here, has since posted a more complete write-up of the Flowers/Blush Response connection that clarifies that Flowers was not present for the recording sessions but that he did co-write the songs.  His piece also includes tracks recorded by Blush Response after Flowers departure when they recruited a new third member Ben Bettison, now of of All Green Lights, who left some thoughts on his chapter of Blush Response history in the comments sections of this post.


J'ason D'luv said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you! You rule!!! Thanks for doing the research :)

Daft Monk said...

Thanks. I don't think I had ever seen the info posted anywhere else so it seemed like a good time to post it.
Love your Killers video post btw.

bardot said...

good job sleuthing!

all green lights said...

Hi Daft Monk-
Trevor and Billie moved from L.A. shortly after 2002, up to Olympia, WA. There, they spent six months writing and recording three songs, which were never pubished, but which Trevor and Billie felt were some of their best work as Blush Response. I was the third new band member, who introduced them to new directions and I had never heard of the Killers when we met. I wish somehow, I could play these songs for you, I think you would like them.

Daft Monk said...

Thanks for the comment All Green Lights. I would love to hear what direction Blush Response took next particularly if it mirrors what you have up on your myspace because that would definitely be something different and exciting. Thanks for the info about the band’s whereabouts and if you can convince them to release something do it because everything I’ve heard is fantastic.

Brian Hazard said...

I just posted the three songs "all green lights" refers to, plus my take on the whole situation, here.

The truth is, Brandon Flowers had absolutely nothing to do with any of the three Blush Response tracks floating around the internet.