Jordan Blilie (Past Lives)
Contributed by ben_conoley, Posted by Suicide Squeeze Interviews

When his old band, Blood Brothers, disbanded in 2007, it didn't mean Jordan Blilie was through with music. In addition to his side-project, Head Wound City, Blilie enlisted some friends and started up Past Lives. Their album, Strange Symmetry, will be released on November 4 through Suicide Squeeze Records.

Punknews interviewer Zach Zeigler recently spoke to Blilie about the new band and starting the process all over again.

How long have Past Lives been a band?

We’ve been a band since last August. Blood Brothers called it a day in June 2007, but we told everyone in November.

Do you get tired of talking about your former band, the Blood Brothers?

I used to get it a lot. I’ve done my fair share of fielding those questions. My answers about it are usually this: we were a band for ten years, we grew up together and we decided it was time to pack it in.

What’s the relationship between the Blood Brothers’ music and Past Lives’ music?

When the Blood Brothers did This Adultery is Ripe we were 17 or 18; we were just finishing up high school and that feels like ages ago. It’s hard to compare who I was back then to where I’m at now. I’m 27 years old now. I’m married. It feels worlds apart.

Anything particular planned for the release of Strange Symmetry?

The record comes out on November 4 but our record release show is on November 8. We’ve been kind of hibernating for the past month or so trying to fine-tune a back of new songs we have. We want to be able to play all the stuff off of the EP and the new songs we’ve been working on for the past few months.

What are you most excited about for Strange Symmetry?

I’m excited for our first release we were able to put a batch of songs together that, at least in my opinion, are pretty broad in range. I think it’s a nice introduction to our band. It’s a good template to grow from.

Is being in Past Lives is your full-time job?


OK, so is that the goal, to be in a band full time?

Um, maybe. We’ll see what happens. As far as long-term goals, I think we’re open to just about anything. I’m content with where my life is right now. I work at a non-profit in Seattle called Tree House [that provides] services geared towards foster kids. That’s my 9-5 job. Everyone in the band works at their jobs as well. We all live with significant others -- me with my wife, the others with their girlfriends. We’re all rooted here, and we’ll take things as they come.

It sounds like you’re in a good place right now.

You’re absolute right. I was a bit, I guess, terrified to try to go back into the workforce after being in a band full time for however many years the Blood Brothers was around. Mainly because it was tough to put a resume together. I think I lucked out in that Tree House does fantastic work and the people I work with have big hearts. It’s wonderful to come and work with them everyday.

So why do you play in a band?

I love playing music, and I love playing music with the people that I’m lucky enough to play with. Take me and Mark (Gajadhar), we’ve been playing music together since we were 15 years old. I’ve been playing music with Morgan (Henderson) for more than 10 years now and it’s been fantastic to reconnect with Devon (Welch). He’s one of my favorite people in the world and one of my favorite guitar players.

So as an outsider looking in, what would you consider an issue with the music industry?

There’s so many… when I think of the term "music industry" I think of major labels. So as far as that whole system, I think that clearly it’s driven on profit and they’re primary means of making profit -- CDs -- is going the way of the dinosaur and they can’t figure a way around that. I think we’re seeing more and more artists and fans of music taking control of what they want to charge and what type of relationship they want to have between buying music and supporting artists or making music available for free.

It has to be a scary time for anyone at a major label because they’ve seen that they’re ways are archaic and the need for them is rapidly waning.

Do you care what critics think about your music?

I’d like to say I don’t, but it’d be dishonest to say I’ve never read a review of an album that I’ve been involved in. We get that stuff sent to us from publicists, and with so much information being available on the Internet, with feedback being instantaneous and readily available - whether that’s from a critic or a someone from the middle of the country emailing you to let you know what they think of your music.

You’re music spans a wide range -- mellow to gritty punk -- how did you carve this sound?

Everything that we do is collaborative. I think that right off the bat there were general parameters we set for ourselves. I didn’t want to do a lot of screaming. I felt like at this point it’d be a bit silly to be screaming more. We didn’t want to be writing music that was as aggressive as the Blood Brothers. We still like to play music that has a certain amount of intensity or drive or emotion. I think that we wanted to have energetic parts but we didn’t want them to be as abrasive as things we’ve written in the past.

Past Lives has been together for more than a year, what have been the best parts?

Best part would be deciding to continue to play with Mark and Morgan. I feel lucky to have continued that relationship with the two of them. I feel very lucky as well to have been able to spending time and start playing music with Devon again. Probably as far as tangible experiences go, being able to reconnect to a lot of more alternative venue spaces has been a lot of fun for me. There are a lot of great underground spaces that kids are doing, where the feeling is one of complete support and community. That’s a great thing to feel like you’re a part of.

Wow… people coming together and supporting one another. I thought that way of life was on the outs.

It’s been really nice and comforting to see those things are still strong and vibrant. And to know that you can be away from those things for a long time and come back and it’s not changed.

What is a hang-up in putting out an album?

Putting together artwork can be pretty stressful because it can be the last thing you get together. You’re music is recorded and you’re ready for it to be available, but you have to wait for the label to get things in place so your music can be available to people. That can be an exercise in patience.

Quick hits: Jordan Billie
What would you consider your Kryptonite? Nicotine.
Three bands that matter: Roxy Music, Liars, the Gossip
CD or Vinyl: Vinyl. CDs are ugly.
Last book you read? The Road. It was great.
Found doing when you’re bored? Watching anything on E! or Bravo.
Best song off "Strange Symmetry"? Chrome Life. I like the space it has.