Somewhere in Pembroke of Ontario, Canada, sat Jordan Zadorozny (Za-duh-ROZ-knee), the man behind the fabulous Blinker The Star. I dialed Jordan up to get the scoop on the group and their future.
Hey, how are you?
Is it cold up there?
Actually it’s not that bad, but we do have a lot of snow, which is nice.
Well, I guess I can’t pretend like it doesn’t get cold here in New York, but this winter has been really mild.
I know. Winters aren’t what they used to be.
I think I’m buying into the whole global warming.
Something’s going on. (laughs)
Why do you think your album has seemingly gone under the radar?
Hmm. Well, I don’t know. Everyone agreed we should go with “Below The Sliding Doors” as the first single and so that is the one we sunk all our money and time into. Maybe it was too subtle. What do you think?
I heard the album when it initially came out and really liked it. But then it sort of went away until it came across my desk again for whatever reason, so I was like ‘What is going on with these guys?’ because there was seemingly no push when the album was released and then there seemed to be a little one right now. I think it just might be the fact that I personally like the slower songs and I don’t know if that would work on radio or not.
I know. Me, too. There are a lot of slow songs on it and maybe it isn’t the time for slow songs.
I don’t know what people want to buy anymore.
Me either, but it would be nice if something like this slipped through.
There is no rock climate.
Right. And radio only gives you so much time to sell records and then they just forget about you. I’m not really bitter, but I wish it had connected quicker. I’ll just have to make another one. (laughs)
I think the album is stronger towards the end and I think that never happens. I believe a lot of people at radio and mags only listen to the first couple of songs and figure they reflect the whole album.
Usually you get your bread and butter by song two.
(laughs) You’re right. I’m actually going through my cds. I’m leaving here and driving out to LA for a while and I’m cleaning my studio in the basement. I’m throwing cds in the garbage. It’s all this crap I’ve kept over the years. I mean, I get stuff on the radio from people, record labels, and all these shit bands over the last ten years.
What are you salvaging?
Anything I bought and like. But there are so many that I would never listen to.
I hear that. We get a lot of stuff I can’t deal with at all. On your road trip, what would you be listening to?
Hmm. There is this record I’ve listened to for the last year and I think it has actually been out for two or three years and they keep adding on to it, but the band is Dead C. I really like that. It’s like Slayer meets Depeche Mode. It’s like Gary Numen.
Why hasn’t it been released?
I think they started doing press like six months ago and then they cut it off. I’m not sure what’s going on.
There are so many great records that just go unnoticed.
I mention yours to friends and they are like ‘Who?’
I know. (laughs)
The one thing I really admired about the album is the lyrics and the melodies. Did you start writing early on?
I actually started writing songs when I was eleven. My dad bought a little four-track and my friend Doug and I sort of lived in this rich fantasy world. We’d write songs, pretending my science teacher was the singer. And we would make songs, like we thought that he could sing and I would play all the instruments. We wrote three years of concept records. When I was fourteen, I began to write songs for real.
I remember being like twelve and I just started playing guitar and my friend and I would try to rewrite Master Of Puppets.
We were like, ‘Okay, if we change a lyric here,’ or ‘Change the title.’ We thought it would be our own song.
Right. I mean, you do the rewrites for years. (laughs)
You don’t realize no one cares. You’re like in your own little world.
I know, right? I used to rewrite the Zepplin catalog.
You play a lot of different instruments. What can you play?
All the standard ones like drums, guitar, bass, and keyboards, then there are a few weird ones like accordion and violin. My parents play everything too so I picked it up really young.
For something like the synth on “Crazy Eyes”, is that something you would add or another person in the group or studio?
I think that was Ken (Andrews, producer) and I both. We are both into the first two or three Cars albums. I think that is where that came from.
Since you play so many instruments, is it something like you come in the studio and are like, ‘I’m gonna play this bass or drum part. Sorry, guys.’?
What generally happens is that I demo the songs at home, and they are pretty much done, so I bring them into the studio and then I let Kelli (Scott, drums) and Pete (Frolander, bass) have their way with it. If it works, it works. If it doesn’t, then we go back to the original idea I had. It’s just back and forth in the studio. We just hash it out there, but I do most of the work here.
Do you four-track them?
I’ve got a twenty-four track. I’ve got a pretty good setup here. (laughs)
So with all my equipment, the demos sound almost done. I mean, they sound pretty much like they do on the record.
Do you write on the road?
I can’t write on the road. I’m too distracted. As soon as I get off the road, I don’t like flying, so I get in my car and drive back here to Pembroke. We haven’t played for almost two months, so I came home and have been recording. I’ve got like twenty songs for the next record.
I was gonna ask you if you’ve been working on new material. That’s a hell of a long drive from California to Ontario. Do you bring the tape recorder with you to write songs?
What do you do?
I usually forget them. (laughs) The most frustrating ever was when I had this very vivid dream of writing this song with John Lennon. It was a very long dream. We were writing, recording, and doing background vocals. We were doing it all together. Well, I woke up at like four in the morning and could sing the whole thing to you right then and I thought, ‘Shit, should I go downstairs and write it down?’ But no, I was like, ‘It’s the best song ever written, it’s too obvious and I’ll never forget it.’ Of course I woke up at noon and it was gone. Not even a lyric was left, just a song title.
What was the title?
Sixteen Eyes. I think I might call the next album that.
I mean, even if you write lyrics down, you often forget melodies, which is just as important. I don’t think people really realize that.
I know, and I thought that for sure I’d remember the melody. It was all gone. I’ve got to get one of those little Dictaphones.
So you’ve been recording a lot?
Yeah. Nonstop actually. Every night. I usually start around eleven at night and go until like five in the morning and then go to bed.
August Everywhere came out in the fall, so what is the game plan for the next album?
I think I’d like to go and make the record in the spring. And then I think we may do a Canadian tour this summer and then put it out late next year.
It’s always weird thinking about music now compared to how it was in the ’60’s. It’s such a business now compared to then. I mean, the Beatles were busting albums out every six months. Even if you could write that much, I don’t think a label would let you release that often anymore.
Sure. If I had my way, I’d have one out now and then one out in the fall. But as it works, I usually build up about forty songs and choose the ones for the album and toss the rest in the garbage. Maybe it’s a good thing, but I wish I could document where I am musically commercially. You know? It’s like I’ve been working on songs for the last three months and they have a similar sound. I would like to get them out now. It’s better than choosing songs from four different periods of my life and sticking them in all together.
Yeah. Does it get to a point where you record in the spring and don’t release until November, and since you sat on songs for a year, is it hard to relate to those songs a year later?
That is true. We are going out to do a couple of shows with Our Lady Peace and most won’t be really familiar with our songs, but half of it is new material that isn’t released, so it is fun.
It doesn’t help your ability to release albums with all of these record labels merging all the time.
The whole Universal merger was chaos. I think they are still sorting out the carnage on that deal.
I know. I’m glad I got out when I did or else I would have still been sitting on my album. (Readers, please note that Blinker The Star was originally signed to A&M Records, which became a part of Universal. The band is now signed to Dreamworks/Universal.)
Yeah. If I didn’t get to Dreamworks quick enough, I could have been in trouble.
I was curious about Ken Andrews. Is he like the fourth Blinker?
Yeah. (laughs) He’s like George Martin, the fifth Beatle. He’s involved for sure. We are neighbors and friends. When I first started writing the songs, I would give him the demos and asked him what he thought. When we started getting ready to record the album and I started meeting other producers, I met with Todd Rundgren, who is a hero of mine, but he said, ‘Good stuff, but whoever you are working with now seems to know what he is doing.’ At the time, we actually had one third of the album done with Ken involved, so we just kept going with Ken.
I noticed he played on the album and did some background vocals.
Yeah, he did one or two, but he is really flat when he sings so I try to keep him out of there. (laughs) He is usually the guy behind the console criticizing me, like a robot, like ‘No good. Try again.’ So it was fun to get him back there to sing and I’d ride his ass because he was flat. I think the next record Ken won’t be involved. Well, he’s got his own record coming out.
Is it under a group title or his name?
Yeah, the band is called On. So he’ll be busy with that for a year.
Are you gonna self-produce?
I’m leaning that way. If not, I’d like to work with Chris Thomas or Todd Rundgren. I think I could pull it off myself.
It seems a lot of artists want to produce themselves because they don’t get their vision out.
A lot of artists now are studio savvy. They know the gear, they know how to set up, and they know how to work it. All you need is a talented engineer. Some artists just don’t have the ability to be self-critical in the studio.
So, what do you do away from the band?
I play hockey.
How long do you stay in Canada?
About half the year, and then I go to California. I like being out there. I like LA.
Do you work on music out there?
I collaborate more when I’m out there. I work on songs with my friend, Brad, and other people, because I don’t have a studio out there, so I work in others’ studios. Or else I just go to the beach.
That must be nice, going out to play hockey one day and surfing the next.
Right. I know. I’m gonna play hockey this afternoon and then next week I’ll be throwing stones in the ocean.
+ charlie craine