In Bloom
By Ronnie

Question: how do you start and run a rock 'n roll band when your parents were in one of the biggest and most influential bands in rock 'n roll history?

Answer: Take the IN BLOOM approach.

Sure, two of the members of the In Bloom trio are the sons of Beach Boys Carl Wilson & Dennis Wilson. But that's where the Beach Boys similarities end. In Bloom want to be their OWN band and have kept a pretty low profile, doing select live gigs and releasing an indie CD. I talked to Justyn Wilson and Carl Wilson about what makes In Bloom tick...

E.C.: First, let me say that I am impressed with the attitude of IN BLOOM. You could have pulled the "my Dad is/was" card, and you didn't. Was that ever a thought with the band? I mean, did you ever think of taking the Wilson-Phillips approach?

Justyn: Not really. For the first couple of years we were together, that was the furthest thing from our minds. At that point it was just about getting together and jamming, while coming up with some songs of our own. While riding our last names has never been at the top of our list, we also realize we don't want to be stupid about it either. If people are interested or curious because of who our Dads were, then that's great. Once you hear our music though, there's no confusing us with The Beach Boys and we feel like people will form their own opinions of us - aside from just thinking of us as "the kids of".

E.C.: Also, your debut is not on a major label. What made you decide not to approach the major labels?

Justyn: Well, to be perfectly honest, we're really just still learning to play and feel like there's a lot of getting better to do and haven't wanted to rush it and knock on doors before we were ready. Also, our recording started out as a 3 song demo, then we just decided to just lay down 10+ plus more songs and call it a CD. As I remember it, one of the main reasons for us doing the recording, last year, was because we were constantly being approached at our shows by people who wanted a CD. After having to tell enough people that you don't have one yet, you want to change that and share you music with those people that actually care to take it home with them. I think we're all very happy that we did and have gotten enough positive responses to feel good about it, too.

Carl: We didn't decide not to approach any major labels. We would love them to be into our music.

E.C.: . I hear a lot of reggae/ska & "alternative" influences in your music. What are the biggest musical influences of the band?

Justyn: For me personally, Nirvana and The Grateful Dead were the two biggest influences early on and I know that the Nirvana influence can be easy to hear in certain songs. As a band, I know that The Beatles have been an influence, Sublime has been a big one lately, Pink Floyd, bands like Rage, 311 and STP have also influenced us in some way. One of our main objectives from the very beginning was to mix it up and not get caught up in one sound and I think we've done okay, in that respect.

Carl: There are alot of different influences between the three of us. For me The Beatles, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Led Zeppelin, The Specials, The Clash, Bob Marley, Weezer to name some bands that I feel inspired me. My first and obviously my strongest influence was watching my dad play when I was young.

E.C.: How long have you guys been playing together? And what made you decide to keep it a trio?

Justyn: We've been playing together since June of "96 when we were all still in our musical diapers. I didn't pick the guitar up until after graduation from college and Mario started at the same time. Carl had played the drums at times, growing up, but it was like we were all starting from scratch, together. As far as keeping it a three piece, I don't think that any of us thinks it'll stay a three piece forever, but we've also not wanted to tweak our sound or chemistry too much, yet. It'd be nice for us to make our mark as a trio, then add later. We'll see.

Carl: The chemistry between the three of us is what has kept it a trio. I feel that if we want to bring anything else into this band it will happen naturally. Nothing forced.

E.C.: Who came up with the name IN BLOOM and what does it mean?

Justyn: After calling ourselves Channel Zero, then Smoke for a while, Carl saw CD's for sale by a band by the same name, so we figured we had to think of something else. After kicking around all kinds of names, the name In Bloom kept coming back to me. For better or for worse, I'm the one who wanted that to be our name. After some mild resistance, we thought we'd just try in on, for a while. Seems to have stuck. While many will recognize the Nirvana connection, it's not for that reason, at all. To me, it simply stands for life - or growth (which is life). To be in bloom, you have to be alive and I always thought that that was a beautiful association to have.

Carl: To be honest I had a tough time with it at first. After a while I guess it just kind of grew on me.

E.C.: Also (a less serious question), what is the significance of the little mouse on the CD imprint?

Justyn: The mouse was lifted off of a poster that was painted by our friend Troy Garity, who incidentally helped get our song "Crazy Lil Mouse" (hence the painting) into the movie he's in, coming out this fall (October). The movie's called BANDITS and stars Bruce Willis, Billy Bob Thornton, Cate Blanchett and Troy.

E.C.: Some of your songs are very hard edge, as opposed to being polished and commercial. Was this a conscious effort?

Justyn: I think that when most of these songs were written, we weren't even close to thinking that far ahead. We just came up with stuff that we thought was cool, or just liked to play. We realize that some of our songs are super simple (some without middle eights, even), but have felt like we wanted to keep the songs true to when they were written - although tweaking is never out of the question. We used to say that we'd keep it the way we did it in the garage.

Carl: Our harder songs are from our strong influence toward hard rock. The commercial music of today is not really coming out in our music. That is just the way we are.

E.C.: All the members write songs, correct? How many originals did you have before you decided to go into the recording studio?

Carl: All three of us do write music, the songs we recorded are all original. Justyn and Mario wrote most of the music that we worked on. I will be more involved in the song writing in the future.

Justyn: Carl didn't learn to play guitar until more recently, so most of the stuff on the CD was written by Mario and/or myself. Before going into the studio, I think we had somewhere beteween 40 and 50 songs, but probably more like only 20 that may have been considered for recording.

E.C.: The vocal harmonies on the songs are interesting. Who does the vocal arrangements, or is it a total band effort?

Carl: The vocal arrangements are a band effort and sometimes one of us has an idea and we just go with it.

Justyn: If I have a part down, that I like, Mario will just try different stuff out until something sticks. I'll do the same when it's the other way around. Carl has also come up with great harmony ideas, that have changed some of our stronger songs. Also, both Carnie and Wendy (our cousins) have help us out at different times with harmonies - that's always fun to share the music with them. Wendy makes a guest appearance on the song "White Dog" on our CD - she sounds beautiful, as usual.

E.C.: Looking at your web site, it looks like your live shows have been concentrated on the West Coast, L.A. area. Is there a tour of some sorts in the future for the band?

Carl: We have been playing in L.A. and Santa Monica mostly and a few times in Orange County. I hope we can get some kind of tour together. It's not in our plans for the near future but I would love to get on the road. Hopefully soon.

Justyn: We'll keep everybody up to date, via our website, as things progress.

E.C.: What is the primary objective of IN BLOOM?

Justyn: I think we all want to take it as far as we can - and to me, that would mean ending up in Cleveland, one day. I know those are pretty lofty sights, but why not aim high? we'd love to be widely recognized and be able to share our music with the world. (how cliche is THAT? - but it's true) that's our/my dream, anyway.

Carl: To be a rock star, what else?

Click here to visit the In Bloom web site