One topic I have not covered as much as I would like to on the All Aboard Beat is music. Previously, I wrote for a music blog, and I adored exploring and writing about the many artists and genres out there. Music is such an important part of life everywhere, and a way that people can connect across cultures. One band that truly understands this is up-and-coming band Blade of Grass. The band takes inspiration from their travels abroad to produce a unique array of easy-to-enjoy songs loaded with cultural influences from across the globe. Recently, I was lucky enough to interview band member Mike Hurst, responsible for guitar and vocals.
How did you choose the band name Blade of Grass?
It symbolizes simplicity and power. The “grass” glorifies nature but the “blade” reminds us that the smallest item in nature is an appendage of Mother Earth, which can ultimately destroy anything man can create.
We actually posted a poll on Facebook for our friends to help us decide on a name for the band. So we kind of “crowd sourced” our band name. Blade of Grass got the most votes from our fans . . . I mean friends.
Michael, you have a background in ethnomusicology. Can you explain the concept?
Ethnomusicology is basically the anthropology of cultures through the lens of their musical rituals. And, it was the major where students were allowed to play with one of the largest collections of instruments from around the world. Also, it was the only major that I was interested in enough to not flunk out of UCLA.
I know you guys have done quite a bit of traveling. What places have you enjoyed most? Which countries’ music have you’ve enjoyed most?
The tropical island experience of places like Kauai and Thailand stand out – eating great food and snorkeling in beautiful spots. The Mayan temples in Guatemala really made an impression. The people of Laos were so warm and friendly, I will never forget.
Of course, India stands out as having a really amazing musical history. There’s so much to listen to, from the ancient traditions of Northern (Hindustani) and Southern (Karnatic) music; but then also the modern day evolution into pop music and electronic dance scene has also provided some amazing music to listen to.
I also have to mention that visiting Jamaica provided amazing exposure to a musical culture that is extremely vibrant and has a huge influence on global musical trends.
How has your experience traveling influenced your music?
It has been amazing meeting people from different backgrounds and learning the kinds of things that matter to them—often not the same things that people in the United States care about. People from countries that are considered “third world” (not a fan of that terminology) often have greater joy in their every day lives from simple things like family and nature because they are unencumbered by the materialism that has engulfs so many of us in the United States.
How does activism fit into your band’s mission? What have you done to help the underprivileged?
We care about lots of causes that affect those near and far from us, so we tend to sing about them. As a result, we have been known to play a lot of festivals and shows that have an activist theme. With regard to the ‘mission’ of the music, I would say it really is for individuals to hear and connect with it. The best we can do to help the underprivileged is play good music that sings about things that they also care about.
What are your plans for the immediate future?
We are recording several songs at 2 different studios in Southern Calfornia. We are also busy producing animated music videos for our songs. We might play live again as a band in 2013, but for now we are very happy spreading our music through great blogs like this and meeting others who have songs or a story to share.
Thanks again for having us on your cool site, we really appreciate it!
Michael Hurst and Josh James both sing, play guitar, and write songs for Blade of Grass. Hear the music at http://www.BladeofGrassMusic.com or find them on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/BladeofGrassMusic.