Mixing dance tracks and rock, DJ team Blowoff serves the beats to the bears
RICH LOPEZ | Staff Writer
When the beat drops Friday night at the Big D Bear Dance, expect the furry men attending this year’s Texas Bear Round Up XVI to pack the dance floor tightly (the only way, actually). That’s because the beefy bearish tag team of Bob Mould and Rich Morel debut their popular event Blowoff in Dallas, merging rock and electronica. Oddly enough, they didn’t start out as the go-to guys for ursine events — but they sure fit in.
“We fit the demographic,” Morel laughs. “But really, it just sort of happened.”
“We became this music event that the bears found,” explains Mould. “They liked us and it was a natural fit. There was no adjusting that we made from just DJing initially, but I do think it’s more of a dance night than music night. I play less indie rock than I would.”
The team had met in music circles before, but teamed up in Washington, D.C., back in 2003 for their first gig together. Their musical philosophies merged nicely, but Mould had ulterior motives for the union: The party was really just a way for Mould to meet people in his new hometown.
“I didn’t have any friends and I just had this idea that if we threw a party, I’d meet more people,” Mould chuckles. “I made flyers and just started passing them around.”
What? Mould needs friends? This is the same guy who helmed such bands as Husker Du and Sugar. But he was alone in a new city, and did something about it.
“I knew Rich was there and we got together to write music,” he says. “But now it’s taken on this life of its own. We worked really hard at it and have taken chances with music by mixing rock and low-fi with electronica and progressive house. I think that has been setting us apart.”
The team credits some of their success to their sound. Their newer trance and vocal mixes are less hyper. Sometimes the chill lo-fi indie rock stuff doesn’t go over well, but bears especially those like Mould and Morel are willing to dance to their beat.
“We’re a bit audience specific,” Mould says, ”because people our age like to dance to it, too.”
Mould hasn’t left his rock roots behind. He’s recently performed surprise shows with the Foo Fighters at the request of Dave Grohl and appeared with Death Cab for Cutie’s Ben Gibbard onstage. Before he became an iconic beardaddy DJ, Mould was already an icon for a new generation of alt-rockers.
“It’s very flattering when they ask for me,” he says. “It’s nice to know people like them are influenced by my stuff. But really, we’re all storytellers, we reinterpret them and the stories get passed on. It’s the legacy of music.”
Mould’s own story will be put to print this summer when his autobiography, See a Little Light: A Trail of Rage and Melody, rolls off the presses.
“It was quite a trip to relive everything, “ he says. “Readers will see an interesting life. It’ll touches on public and private stuff, but no animals were harmed in the making of this book — except me. “
Where Mould ends with rock, Morel would seem to start with dance, but that’s not the case. Morel was kind of a rocker as well and applied his remixes to less dance driven bands like The Killers and The Doors. What Morel did find as that the space where they play is dependent on the tone and with bigger rooms (such as Station 4), certain records are just going to work better.
“Our goal is to get them there on the dancefloor,” Morel says. “Different stuff works, but really, you just can’t make everyone happy. At a certain point, it’s fine.”
Morel thinks what sets them apart, besides the music, is their set up. The team play in hour chunks, tag-teaming every 60 minutes. This gives them time to socialize and get a drink — and the mix-and-mingle contributes to their success.
“We strive for a friendly club experience,” Morel says. “We don’t have a separation from the crowd while playing.”
They’ve done bear events around the country including New York, Provincetown and Chicago, so Mould’s feeling confident that they will tap into the right musical nerve for this crop of Dallas bears.
“I’m planning on doing what I do best,” Mould says. “I hear this is one of the more fun bear events so I can’t wait. I’ll be staying Saturday night so I’ll get to hang out.”
But Mould lives in San Francisco now and Morel resides in D.C. So how do they get ready?
“We show up!” Morel laughs.
This article appeared on the Dallas Voice print edition March 18, 2011.