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While living in New Jersey and
performing in a local band called Hello
Lovely, singer/guitarist James Dean
Wells and drummer Quinn English
started a side project based in New
York, using AKAs for their names:
Clark Westfield and Puppy Mills,
“We thought it’d be funny to kind of
start a press war with ourselves,”
said Wells, AKA Westfield. “It was like
‘we’re a new band from New York,’
but at the time we were living in New
Jersey. Then we gave ourselves fake
names to facilitate this press war.”
The Gay Blades release Savages, return to Columbus
An interview with lead vocalist/guitarist James Dean Wells AKA Clark Westfield
The Gay Blades' drummer Quinn English (Puppy Mills) sits in the passenger
seat with lead singer/guitarist James Dean Wells (Clark Westfield).
Enlarge Photo Publicity Photo by Lucia Holm
This project is now known as the band The Gay Blades—a two-piece that cleverly combines an
upbeat punk-rock style with glamorous soul and stripped-down ballads to form “trash pop.”
The music vibes as though it was created in a modernized Tin Pan Alley.
The origin of the ambiguous band name is from a song by the lyrically androgynous Lou Reed.
“When we made the band it wasn’t something that we thought anyone would give a shit about,
so we named it a pretty crass name,” Wells said. “It comes from a Lou Reed tune called
‘Vicious.’ The lyrics are: ‘why don’t you swallow razorblades/you must think I’m some kind of
gay blade.’ So we picked Lou Reed, who is the godfather of New York rock ‘n’ roll.”
The Gay Blades didn’t anticipate touring throughout Europe and the U.S. with bands including
The Black Lips, Cursive, MGMT, Electric Six, and Juliette Lewis, but they did.
“We didn’t really take any of this seriously,” Wells said. “And of course the one band that we were
doing for fun is the one that got enough momentum to get a booking agent, a record deal and
started touring internationally all within a year.”
The band is currently touring in support of Savages (Triple Crown Records/4 Never Records),
it’s follow-up to Ghosts. The Gay Blades is connecting with fans on this tour by writing a new
song for each city on the tour. The first five songs have been released as Songs for Cities, Vol. 1.
“I have this little baby tiny studio space and I’ve been cranking out tunes,” Wells said. “The song
for Columbus is about beating up a bunch of college boys. It’s called ‘Run For Your Life,
In addition to writing a song for each city, the band’s set list for Columbus will be entirely decided
by a group of fans.
“We have an amazing group of kids that are fans from Detroit and they’ve come to see us in
Columbus before,” Wells said. “Probably like 15 kids and those kids will be picking the set list
for the Columbus show. We might have to rehearse some old jams, I’m sure they’re gonna
throw us some curve balls.”
A third band member was added to the lineup
for this tour.
“This kid called Mike Abiuso, though we have
not blessed him with an AKA yet, but we’re
hoping to give him a good AKA,” Wells said.
“We’re open to suggestions if anything seems
poetic about Mike Abiuso.”
The Gay Blades is also finishing up a music
video for “Rock ‘N Roll.” Wells said the band is
working with the same crew that produced
promo videos for the new album.
“[Savages] had a series of three promo
trailers that came out amazing. They were like
Tareentino meets Scott Pilgrim or something,”
he said. “The three different directors,
producers are cutting the new video together
with some really great live video we had.”
The video is expected to be released while the
band is on the road.
Song clip: "Rock 'N Roll" from Savages
Working together as a two-member band
and adding a touring third band member
Comparing albums: Savages versus Ghosts
Taking the new album live on tour
How a Beatles' songbook turned Wells onto music
Wells' girlfriend helps him answer a question
Last time The Gay Blades were in Columbus...
Where to find The Gay Blades' music
Song clip: "Try To Understand" from Savages
Audio: Interview B-sides
Wells said the last time The Gay Blades were in Columbus they became intoxicated and only
managed to perform three or four songs. But this time, Wells said the band will limit their amount
of alcohol intake
“So I think what we’re gonna try to do is temper the shots and then see how many songs we can
play completely,” he said. “We’re just gonna do a bunch of heroine! No, I’m kidding, we’re just
gonna have a really great show and not do heroine. Promise.”
The Gay Blades will be at The Basement in Columbus on Tues. Nov. 30. Opening bands will be
Mind Fish (Toledo/Athens), Dolfish (Columbus) and Historians (Columbus). Tickets are $8 in
advance and $10 day of show. The concert starts at 8 p.m.
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