Band combines Native energy with heavy metal
By Rob Capriccioso -- Today staff
WASHINGTON - Loren Anthony, 26, is not your average heavy metal headbanger. Sure, his hair is long, and sure, his band's music is loud. But there's a message there, he says, that's not so apparent in much of the offerings within his chosen musical genre.
Maybe it's because Anthony, as the lead vocalist and main songwriter, is American Indian - a proud member of the Navajo Nation, to be exact. Then again, maybe it's not. He says he doesn't want to be pigeonholed as an exclusively Indian artist: he wants broad appeal. And he and his band mates, Eric Doherty, Davidson Steel and his brother, Leland Anthony III, are willing to do what it takes to get national - maybe even mainstream - success. As long as they stay true to their roots, that is.
Indian Country Today caught up with the vocalist after he performed at the closing ceremonies of the Longest Walk II on the National Mall.
Indian Country Today: When was Bloodline founded?
Loren Anthony: We started playing together back in 1998 in Gallup, N.M. We were just a bunch of kids who wanted to play together [and] have a good time. Eventually, we started writing original material. It was a whole new process than just covering other people's work. Our writing ability has become really strong since then. ... Vocally and emotionally, I think.
ICT: Was the group always called Bloodline?
Anthony: We've had different names, some of them silly, but we knew after a while that we wanted a concrete name. It took us a while, but we eventually settled on Bloodline. A lot of people ask us the meaning of it. Well, the area we come from has a lot of bands that have Native American names - we didn't really want to do that too much. We want to make it into the mainstream and have that standpoint of, ''Oh yeah, we're also a partially Native group.'' I think everyone can relate to the idea of thinking about their heritage and where they come from. Our message is to be proud of who you are and where you come from.
ICT: Do you think billing yourself as an American Indian heavy metal band would limit your popularity?
Anthony: Yeah, I do think so. It does set a certain amount of limitations when you do stick to a firm label. Where we come from, there are a lot of groups that just play the reservations all the time. That's cool, and that's a lot of fun. But we also play outside of our area. We've pretty much grown to be the only regional band from our area.
ICT: What's unique about your music that maybe other bands aren't doing?
Anthony:Our music is definitely high-powered and full of energy. It sometimes gets misinterpreted by older people who are afraid of heavy metal music. But we always try to bring respect to it. We try to have positive messages. We don't sing about big rims, or girls, or ex-girlfriends. All our music is clean; we don't use cuss words. As a poet, I think you can always find better words to define oppression. ... We really try to stand up for youth, too.
ICT:Do you find inspiration from Native America when you write your songs?
Anthony: It's just like the old days - people come out with songs just out of nowhere. From my point of view, ideas just sort of hit me, and I go with them.
ICT: You've been on tour for much of this spring and now summer - do you love it?
Anthony: It's pretty demanding - just one date after another. You have to just keep going with the punches. I think this is the longest we've been on the road, since Feb. 22. But seeing the kids in the audiences having as good a time as we are makes it all worth it.
ICT: What's the hardest part of it all?
Anthony:Oh, you know. It's a love/hate thing with us for sure. Dealing with each other's quirks is enough, but having to call our band our home for months on end is tough. And having to make the gas dollar stretch is hard. It's a lot of sacrifice.
ICT: When are we going to see a full CD out from Bloodline?
Anthony: Well, we have a seven-song demo CD out right now, and we're working on putting together a polished full album in the months to come. We're still putting all the pieces together, and the tour has kind of prolonged the process. Currently, we're being played on 82 stations across the nation, and we're on XM and Sirius Radio. We're really pushing ourselves to get to the next level.
ICT: What do you think of the popular music show ''American Idol''? Would you want to appear on it?
Anthony: It's definitely a good avenue to get yourself out there and get yourself on TV. But they're looking for something that will make them money. You kind of would have to put yourself out there to be their puppet. We're not up for that kind of stuff. We want to be who we want to be - not saying we're rebels or anything. But we want to not be controlled in that way. We try to stand our ground and do what we believe in.
ICT: Forget ''American Idol'' - but, ultimately, do you want to be a big rock star?
Anthony: Well, I want to keep my humbleness and keep grounded as a person. But I do want the best for the band and for it to become known worldwide.
For more information about Bloodline, visit www.myspace.com/bloodline heavymetal.