Started as college band by singer/guitarists Erica Coriglione and Arnold Madlangbayan, and soon including Craigslist find Scott Kenemore on drums, “who has been a gift to this band. I can’t tell you how many shows people will come up to us after and say, “Great show…your drummers amazing!” and the rest of us are like… “What about us?” (The Blissters) The Blissters as we know them today were completed after going through a few other musicians before finding bassist John D on Craigslist as well. “We couldn’t have been happier when we discovered that low and behold, not only is John the “hot one” but he has a great voice that also added a lot to our 3 part harmonies, which now makes this band who we are today.” (The Blissters)
Since their 2004 formation the quartet has been churning out wonderfully new wave inspired power pop, releasing two EP’s as well as a full-length, and getting picked up by various publications such as Time Out Chicago, Illinois Entertainer, and The Examiner, among others. A staple in the Chicago bar and club music scene, they band has also been invited to play a number of festivals including Chicago’s Taste of Lincoln, and the International Pop Overthrow Festival thrice over. The group is past winners of the WXRT/Starbucks music competition, which they overtook with their song “Just Like You”, and since then have been blowing up the airwaves of WLUW and WXRT.
More recently the band has been writing new music, and has posted one such track, “Ausgang”, which you can listen to on their Myspace. They’ve also been working on their 2nd full length, which will be released sometime this Spring/Summer, and started some side projects.
Making 80’s inspired new wave infused music along the lines of The Go-Go’s, The Cars and The Killers, The Blissters offer a happy go lucky sound with the musical chops to quell any scoffs at the premise of pop. Bangles-esque female vocals harmonize with strong male counterparts, creating a sound that is infectious and impossible not to hum along to. A fresh coat of pain on a somewhat faded genre, The Blissters are a group of charming and hardworking Chicago musicians worth checking out.
The Blissters talked with Telegram Sam earlier this month about past projects, favorite venues, and the backbone of their writing process.
Telegram Sam: If you could book a tour with any 3 bands, active or inactive, who would they be and why?
The Beatles – a no brainer because they’re timeless and a couple of us learned to play guitar because of John Lennon.
The Clash – so we can join them onstage for our cover of Police On My Back and because they’re Scott’s favorite band.
Spice Girls -because they need a second comeback tour and Erica has already coordinated some new dance moves for it.
T.S. Tell us the story behind your current rosters of songs
The Blissters: In terms of writing, Arnold is the melody master and usually brings at least the guts of a new song for the band to work on but we all add our own twists with vocals and fills. It then filters through the brilliance of Scott, who can completely change a song for the better by just altering his drum pattern. We pride ourselves on our harmonies, which are normally orchestrated by Erica, so that is key in all of our songs.
It seems that every new song is better than the last, so our set lists usually lean heavily towards whatever is newer in our catalog – except for fan favorites such as “Just Like You”. We also like to throw in some covers to give people that don’t know us a chance to sing along and have a good time.
For new fans, you can expect lots of hookiness, lots of harmony, guitars turned up to 11 and maybe even some break dancing. Expect to also inadvertently be humming one of our songs the day after a show.
T.S: Top three favorite venues to play?
The Blissters: Too many great ones in Chicago to really narrow it down, but we’ve always loved Elbo Room, LaSalle Power Co has a pretty amazing space and stage, and the Beat Kitchen has always been very good to us.
T.S: What are your top three musical influences as a band? Individually?
The Blissters – Material Issue, The Cure, Spice Girls
Erica – The Beatles, Material Issue, The Cure
Arnold – The Rentals, Smashing Pumpkins and The Jesus and Mary Chain
John – Weezer, Radiohead, The Beatles
Scott – Topper Headon of the Clash, Bill Berry of R.E.M. and Jon Fishman of Phish
T.S: If you were to record a tribute album, who would it be to?
The Blissters: Our answers here are ALL across the board: Radiohead, The Clash, The Breeders and naturally, Lady Gaga.
T.S: Who are 3 of your favorite Chicago bands?
T.S: What are your best and worst band moments?
The Blissters: Besides hearing our songs on local radio, the best band moment would be performing on JBTV – which most of us grew up watching…and Jerry Bryant still looks the same! We love him.
No one’s really fallen off the stage or lit themselves on fire so we really haven’t had many bad moments. If we had to say one, it would be our last night of our East Coast mini-tour where we got into a huge fight with our old bassist in Baltimore…leading to his “departure”. It was an awkward drive home.
T.S: What other projects have you been a part of as individuals?
Erica – The Envoys, and currently in a new cover band called Legendary Rockstars, with Ted Ansani – the bassist from Material Issue.
Arnold – College bands: Karate School Dropout, Combination F
John – Fallen To Rise (my teenage years rap/metal band where I learned I could actually sing…and also that I suck at rapping), and The Idle Hours when I was at U of I.
Scott – The Letdowns from NYC