If its first single Emperor is anything to go by, Billie Blue And The Nowhere Men (BBTNM) certainly know how to rock.
The song, currently available on Spotify, is a real foot stomper, with shades of psychedelic rock and Fleetwood Mac-esque folk stylings, and front woman Billie Blue Blackstone channeling Debbie Harry and Joan Jett with her smouldering yet powerful vocals.
Comprising Blackstone (lead vocals), David Harding (bass), Soheil Sanjabi (lead guitars) and Reuben Devanesan (percussions), the band recently released its debut album, Find Gold, a seven-track record that takes its title from a line in Emperor.
The album features some of the first songs the band wrote as well as its more recent compositions, according to Blackstone in an email interview.
“Our album reflects the musical evolution of our band since we started writing in 2016. More personally, it is also a testament to the changes we each experienced (and continue to experience) within ourselves,” she said.
“Track #6 is our rendition of the classic jazz song, Nature Boy, composed by Eden Ahbez and made famous by Nat King Cole.”
Born to Malaysian-American parents, Blackstone first began performing with Soheil as a duo, before teaming up with the rest of the band to further develop their sound.
“Soheil and I met in 2013 and played a few folk shows together, but we knew that we wanted to experiment with a fuller, electric sound. It took some time, but we eventually met Reuben and David in the music scene and we all work together really well,” she said.
The band’s sound is influenced by early American folk music as well as psychedelic rock, especially by bands from the late 60s and 70s.
“We listen to many types of music, but a lot of old-school folk rock, psych rock and blues really resonate with us and have become the foundation for our songwriting,” Blackstone said.
“Apart from our favourite bands, we are also inspired by literature, mythology, and life’s happenings – both serious and trivial.”
While the band’s biodata describes its music as ‘folk rock’, Blackstone said that they didn’t set out to pigeonhole themselves into any sort of genre when writing their songs.
“If we could verbally explain what the genre means to us, there would be no need for us to play it!” she said.
“We don’t put much thought into the genre when we’re writing songs. The initial inspiration and songwriting process differs from song to song, so each song on the album has a different mood.
“The response we’ve gotten has been mostly positive. We’ve had people who have never listened to anything other than what’s on the radio tell us that they love our shows and our original music, and that’s a pretty special kind of compliment.”
One thing is for sure, BBTNM also plays a mean live set, as evident from the response it got during gigs at the Langkawi International Blues & Roots Festival in last December and the Jameson Live event earlier this year.
BBTNM was also nominated for Best New Band at the VIMA Music Awards, a regional independent music awards platform.
“At each gig we play, we try to put together sets with high energy songs as well as softer moments where we can all be more vulnerable. We want you to have a rocking good time, but we also hope that our music can strike a chord somewhere deeper,” she said.