Interview with Opposite Ends: Sean Gardner and Chris Blanzano

The forward thinking spoken word vibrations resonating from Opposite End’s 2009 album People Are Funny is an inspired take on human nature and interaction.

Opposite Ends stands out in the crowd as so eloquently illustrated in their album art.

If Weerd Science’s, Josh Eppard and Young Money’s Drake created a rapper, Chris Blanzano a.k.a. Emergence would be pretty close to the prototype. With biting quips and a joie de vivre that is so easily lost in a game of big rims, bigger chains and the biggest talk of being the illest, Blanzano has the right to get a little loose lipped on the mic.

Sean Gardner a.k.a. Sea’N’Balance is the lower key of the two MCs. Gardner’s verse are more rough and come a little more aggressive than his co-pilot, but the balance is there. He’s more introverted, so when the words finally come out, it’s not from high in his nose, it’s from the gut and that is something you can hear.

Molded from the old-school, lyrics are spit over a varied selection of beats and samples; they obviously appreciate their predecessors’ styles, but take have an undeniable personal swagger.

OE’s eclectic sound is brilliant; they don’t write party music and fuck a single. They are clever, funny, insightful and relevant emcees. They entice crowds to not only bounce to the beat, but listen to the elegance coming from their lips and really understand that people are funny.

I can’t speak any further of the mixing, beats and samples without giving big ups to DJ Priority for his work on this album—so sick.

The guys mixed things up a little bit by cutting in a clip taken from the movie White Oleander staring Michelle Pfeiffer on track 16—so sicker.

A musically interesting track from the 2009 release, is “Up Up Up.” The time signature is a different artistry and the bounce sets this track apart from all others on the album; a salute to DJ Gringo for his grace.

“Still trying to grow a garden from the pit in my stomach,” spits Blanzano on “Our Cat Has No Name And This Song Doesn’t Need One Either,” the first track from People Are Funny wraps up that feeling I get every time one of these emcees drop a verbal gem.

If that all isn’t enough for you, the band’s initials are OE, the most hard-back of all malt liquors, and that my friends makes them the fly-est kids on the block.

I caught up with the dudes one humid afternoon, near the end of July at the apartment in which they share. They spent their morning trying to find Modest Mouse tickets for a sold out show later in the evening. As I crossed the threshold of the modest two-family home, I was pleasantly surprised: urban art by local painters covering the walls; graffiti splashed poster boards leaned in corners. The volume of vinyl, music making equipment, instruments and sound related crap was… impressive, actually. It let me further know that these kids are wholeheartedly immersed in the lifestyle, not just the aesthetic.

These are Opposite Ends; dig it.

Where did you guys meet?

Chris Blanzano: We met in high school but we didn’t start this until like, senior year. We had a mutual friend and we went out the first day of senior year and we were all hanging out at the Taco Bell—our friend’s name was Andrew. I was just cracking jokes on Andrew and [Sean] started cracking jokes on Andrew too, so we just double-teamed him unknowingly. [Andrew] was kind of a sensitive type so he got really pissed.

What are your fail safe bands or emcees?

CB: The first few albums I bought on cassette were Biggie’s Ready To Die and Snoop Dogg’s Doggy Style. From there, my taste in hip hop just kept expanding, and I don’t just listen to hip hop now-a-days; we don’t make the stereotypical hip hop either. But, I have to think of my desert island mix tape.

CB To Sean Gardner: You know yours?

SG: I would definitely take Modest Mouse and then probably Personal Journals by Sage Francis… that and Atmosphere. Those three for me right now are what I’d have to pick if I was in a hurry.

What made you guy want to be emcees?

SG: It’s not one of those things that I really thought about too much. I just kind of met him in high school and he already kind of rhymed and it seemed kind of interesting to me. I just thought to myself, ‘Let me just see.’ I did and I loved it, so I’m just going to keep on doing it.

But what really drew you to it?

CB: I dunno. I was like 8 when I picked up those Biggie tapes, and from then on I really wanted to make hip hop. I memorized those cassette tapes from front to back. I’ve been writing in my notebooks; I have stuff back there from 6th grade.

Tell me about the cover art from People Are Funny.

CB: I feel like it’s pretty self explanatory, it was done by my friend Shayna Gentiluomo. She works at the MOMA. We wanted to show people in an everyday situation at like a bus stop with the different faces. It was a New York/New Jersey kind of feel—people just waiting; just regular people in the crowd. We want to say people are funny, but we’re part of that.

SG: Yeah, we’re in the crowd. When we go to the city we just move through the crowd and observe people. That shit’s funny.

How’d you get the name Opposite Ends?

SG: When I got back from California we started working on music together and we were trying to figure out some group thing. Like he was trying to do something with Andrew then I thought of something like Opposite Equals or some shit. Then Opposite Ends came around and it worked out because we have so much in common but we’re so different.

So true, the guys are like day and night. Check them out Tuesday nights at Café Latte in Clifton, NJ and their album People Are Funny at and hear for yourself.