December 15, 2002
David Lynch: 'Blue Velvet' to BlueBob
by Steve Hochman, Special to The Times


Music has been nearly as important as the scripts and visuals in such influential David Lynch film and TV projects as "Twin Peaks" and "Blue Velvet."

And Lynch has been active as a producer and collaborator with composer Angelo Badalamenti and singers Julee Cruise and Jocelyn Montgomery. So his opinion probably is worth noting in a discussion about the music and marketing strategies of a new act called BlueBob.

"It's all horse manure," says the director, sitting in the combination screening room/recording studio of his Hollywood Hills home, smoke trailing from his cigarette as he gives his hand a dismissive flip.

Sitting with him, John Neff and Pascal Nabet roll their eyes. It's not just that they've heard this act before. It's that Neff is half of BlueBob, while Nabet owns Soulitude, the label releasing its debut album.

Oh, and also because Lynch is the other half of the group.

Lynch writes the lyrics (little vignettes of paranoia and underbelly cruising) and plays guitars and various percussion items, while Neff adds everything else and handles the gruff, largely spoken vocals. Overall, the space-age bluesy atmosphere and dark scenarios make it perhaps a cousin to Tom Waits and Captain Beefheart more than to the stark, haunting beauty of Lynch's other collaborations.

"BlueBob started because I love machines," Lynch says. "I said, 'John, I want beats like machines, like dogs on PCP -- when they bite down you feel it.' "

Lynch and Neff became acquainted in 1997 when the latter, a longtime studio engineer and designer, built Lynch's home facility and wound up being hired as the director's audio specialist.

Soon they started some musical experiments and officially teamed to produce Montgomery's 1998 album, "Lux Vixen," which featured interpretations of compositions by medieval mystic Hildegard von Bingen. It was released in this country by Mammoth Records.

BlueBob, Lynch says, started as an experiment. "There was no thought of an album at all, until we got four things recorded," he says.

More serious about it, they continued writing and recording and last year finished the debut BlueBob album. It was released in Europe last month and got strong press interest and is due here in February or March. The group, with the two joined by Nasbet and three other musicians, made its first and so far only live appearance Nov. 11 at Paris' historic Olympia Theatre, sharing a bill with Portishead singer Beth Gibbons.

Lynch, with no real musical performing experience, is thrilled about the opportunity but dubious about his own live role. "John is a performer and we had a killer band," he says. "I am not a performer. I just sat there like an idiot. It was torment."

However, with much radio exposure outside of public and college stations unlikely, there is talk of designing a multimedia theater presentation to bring the music to the public. Lynch is not committing. "It just depends on how much torment you can put up with," Neff says to his partner.

 


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