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Kansas City psych band Various Blonde forges a sound all its own

Various Blonde founder Joshua Allen (right) and bassist Evanjohn McIntosh.
Various Blonde founder Joshua Allen (right) and bassist Evanjohn McIntosh.

Asked why his band is called Various Blonde, Joshua Allen has a vague recollection.

“I remember it this way,” he said. “We use to be called ’68 Comeback, but we had to change it because the name was already taken. We brainstormed and threw out a bunch of ideas. I said Blond Blonde and also threw out the idea of just calling the band Various. Nick Organ, our original drummer, liked the idea of putting them together. Hence, Various Blonde.”

The Blonde part may be random, but Various suits the band’s music, which extracts traits and parts from a variety of genres and forges them into a sound that can be as funky as it is heavy, soulful or psychedelic.

Founded in 2008, Various Blonde endured some personnel changes before settling into the current lineup: Allen, vocals and guitar; Eddie Moore, keyboards; Evanjohn McIntosh, bass; and Mark Lomas, drums. Allen recently answered questions about the band, including its work with Isaiah “Ikey” Owens, producer and keyboardist for the Mars Volta and Jack White. Owens died recently of a heart attack.

How do you describe your band’s sound? What do you tell people you sound like?

I always tell people, we cover a lot of ground when we play and that they should check out our music on Bandcamp. The current lineup is way more open to switching it up. We are able to play every genre I love and draw my influences from. Some songs are rock, some songs are more funk, some songs are pop, some songs are jazzy and some songs are psych. We’re really just focused on playing what we feel, even if we have to hop a genre to do it.

How does the songwriting process go?

I’m really into writing the bass lines for the song first. You can just control so much of the song with the bass line. The other stuff is great, but I’m really into getting the groove and rhythm established and then painting over that with other instruments.

I also love working with a producer. I know it might sound cliche, but working with someone who likes your sound and is down to help you cultivate it can make a huge difference in the finished product. I’ve had the pleasure of working with local engineer and producer and longtime friend Adam Mcgill (ex-Republic Tigers) and also the late Isaiah “Ikey” Owens. I felt like I’d plateaued as a musician before I started working with those two gentlemen. It’s really helped breathe new life into the band.

Who are some of your music influences?

I’ve had many of the same stock influences most people have had for a long time: Hendrix, the Beatles.… But honestly the Long Beach and Denver music scenes, Adam Mcgill and Ikey have been the biggest direct influences on the music I’m writing today.

It really has a lot less to do with all the greats and more to do with what I gain from being around such awesome people while writing songs for my band. I’ve been influenced by a good cup of coffee and good weather and written a riff. And John Lennon and the Mars Volta had nothing to do with it.

If you could open tour for any band, who would that be?

I think it’d be cool to tour with Queens of the Stone Age or Jack White. They’re two of the biggest and best in the biz. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting both bands and they seem to have a really good dynamic. Like, family! I know not every tour is like that so it would be an amazing experience to be a part of such community.

Friday

Various Blonde and the Philistines will perform Friday at Mills Record Co., 314 Westport Road. Showtime is 6 p.m. Admission to the all-ages show is free. The show is part of the Apocalypse Meow benefit.

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