Blind Melon transcends the Bee buzz

February 18, 1994|By J. D. Considine | J. D. Considine,Sun Pop Music Critic

It's hard to talk about Blind Melon without eventually bringing up the Bee Girl.

The Bee Girl, for those who have managed to avoid MTV in the last year, is the young, bee-suited tap dancer who starred in the video for Blind Melon's song "No Rain." An instant icon, she quickly became as familiar to MTViewers as Madonna or Beavis and Butt-head.

Needless to say, that had its advantages to Blind Melon. After two years on the club circuit, the band suddenly found itself with a Top-40 smash and a multi-platinum album. But at the same time, it also found itself on the receiving end of a lot of criticism, particularly from alterna-rockers who saw the Bee Girl as further evidence of the way video imagery has taken over the music business.

Blind Melon guitarist Christopher Thorn seems stung by the criticism. "Some people are trying to punish us for making a great video, which is just absurd," he says. "It's like saying, 'They were cool until they had that big video.' What are you talking about, man? Just because it got shoved down people's throats, it's not our fault. We don't make those decisions."

Not that Thorn is complaining about the Bee Girl buzz. "This video has enabled us to do more things," he says, over the phone from a New York tour stop. "It's given us power to take more control, to have time to write the songs we want to write and to be creative. Also, it's enabled us to do this tour. This is the first time we've ever toured with a light guy, our own P.A. system, the whole thing."

But what really bugs Thorn about the Bee Girl furor is that all this video static obscures Blind Melon's strength as a live act. For this band, the playing's the thing, and Thorn says he and his bandmates make an effort to keep their concert performances loose, free-flowing and full of unexpected twists and turns.

"I want them to maybe be surprised, and say: 'Oh, wow, I get it. I see where they're going,' " he says. "They're hearing something fresh, and they know that we haven't rehearsed it over and over.

"Maybe they're seeing something that hasn't happened before, and we're stumbling onto some sort of spontaneous inspiration. Then sometimes it falls flat on its face, and I think that's fair, too. Like, 'Oh, well -- we gave it a shot.' "

Thorn adds that the band also does its share of off-stage jamming. For a while, he and his bandmates made a point of

doing long sound checks so they could play around before their performances. But that, he says, was before they became "the lazy sort of band."

"Now we're doing everything possible to not do sound checks," he laughs. "What happens is, you think you're going to have all this time to play, but you play for 30 seconds and then stop and wait while they fix something. It turns out to be just like waiting and waiting and waiting.

"So we're trying to avoid the sound check thing. But what we've done is we have practice gear in our dressing room. If we want to jam, we just go back in a separate room, and we don't have to deal with the sound guy going, 'OK, enough, stop.' "

There's also a new single -- "Change" -- on the way, and even though there's no Bee Girl in the video, Thorn says the band expects the song to be as big a hit as "No Rain" was. "People really like that song when we play it live," he says. "It's amazing. Even in the first couple months, when we were playing to 50 people in a club, 'Change' always got a strong reaction."

That's one of the reasons Thorn doesn't worry that Blind Melon will forever be known as the Bee Girl band. "It'll just be one little spot in the chapter of Blind Melon, you know?" he says. "If we're finished tomorrow, then I think maybe we'll go down as that Bee Girl band. But as long as we continue to do well, then it'll just be a footnote."

Blind Melon

When: Wednesday, Feb. 23, 7:30 p.m.

Where: Field House at University of Maryland Baltimore County

Tickets: $17.50 (general admission)

Call: (410) 455-6300 for information, (410) 481-7328 for tickets

A slice of Melon

Does Blind Melon's self-titled debut really deliver the goods, or is the band just riding a Bee Girl-induced buzz? Decide for yourself after hearing excerpts from the album on Sundial, The Sun's telephone information service, at (410) 783-1800. In Anne Arundel County, call 268-7736; 836-5028 in Harford County; 848-0338 in Carroll County. Using a touch-tone telephone, punch in the four digit code 6194 after you hear the greeting.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.