Makes My Blood Dance is a disco metal act from Brooklyn, N.Y. that was formed in 2018 and is fronted by lead singer Evan Russell Saffer. I discovered Evan Russell Saffer at the Croc Roc in Allentown, Pa. on tour with Joey Belladonna promoting his solo band record Neon Gasin the Summer of 2011. I was blown away and invited Evan and his band to my college radio show, Japan Nick’s Rock and Metal Pandemonium about six times over the years. He has fronted several bands over the years from Fixer, his solo group Evan Russell Saffer, RainMKERS, and now has a stunning new release with the explosive disco metal act Makesmyblooddance. We discussed how his band formed and what it is like when they compose music together. Songs like Drive to Mars, Power of the Lightside, and Communion.
Evan spoke about what it was like having legendary producer Dave Ogilvie (NIN, Marilyn Manson, Skinny Puppy) to mix his album. The first six songs that will be rolling out as a series of singles in 2019 in no particular order: “Power of the Lightside,” “Communion,” “Sick As Our Secrets,” “Drive To Mars,” “We Push And They Shove,” and “Beaming Right Up.”
Beaming Right Up is getting tons of buzz from the live shows and will most likely be the first single.Go catch Makesmyblooddance at the Kingsland in Greenpoint, Brooklyn on Friday, Jan. 25, 2019.
Tell me about how the group of musicians in Makes My Blood Dance came together?
John Polimeni is the lead guitarist and my partner in magic. He and I started jamming together through Craigslist. He had a cool bunch of musicians put together but something was missing. I jammed with them a few times but ultimately passed. I thought their music was too dense and too progressive for me. I like pop structures and room for vocals, I was finding it difficult to write over their stuff.
John kept calling and I really love that enthusiasm and I love to play. Eventually I said okay, send me all the recordings and let me just sit with it. I diced up the songs, we worked together to open up the arrangements and I added lyrics and melodies. It took a lot of patience and time but once we got the first song (“Power of the Lightside”), the other five flowed out naturally. We said, okay, now we have something. We immediately put the band together with new players. First one on board was Alex Nikitin, who is a fun-loving rock loyalist from Russia on bass. Alex has great spiritual energy and we quickly became friends, still feels completely natural from the get go. We had some trouble solidifying a drummer but got fill-in pirates all along the way that helped us out. We finally found our guy in CK1 Gordillo — our first show with CK1 will be in 2019.
Now, on this project of yours, how does the music get composed? Are you working together as a band or pretty much doing it by yourself?
We’re still a young band in this regard. So far, it’s been John writing incredible musical scores and arrangements with me working with them to find a complete structure. I then add lyrics and melodies. We do have some new ones in the works that have had different approaches but this current release (six songs) came together in that way.
During the writing and recording periods of this album, what would you say would be the Top 5 bands you listened to the most?
Great question, because it’s all about where you’re coming from at one particular moment. Children Of Bodom, Rammstein, Periphery, Stone Sour, and Ozzy.
After listening to “Drive to Mars” I really thought of “Garden of Eden” from Guns N’ Roses, and also “Chemical Marketplace.” Tell me how you feel about that song?
I have always loved Guns N’ Roses and for years have heard comparisons between my sound and that group. There’s no direct influence but sure, Guns N’ Roses is in all our veins pretty much anyoneborn within one to three decades of 1980 to present in the rock and metal genre. “Chemical Marketplace” is off my solo record (Neon Gas by Evan Russell Saffer) and that’s flattering to hear. All those songs are sort of frenetic and bursting with energy. “Drive to Mars” has this punky break-neck vibe but it also brings together elements of Queens of The Stone Age and Smashing Pumpkins. There are flowy sections of melodic vocals along with Alice Cooper payoff choruses and call. We top that off with an amazing instrumental timing from the band. I love this song. It’s definitely my favorite on the album.
“Power of the Lightside” struck me as a reflective and somewhat cathartic piece, what was going on with you that inspired this song?
Recovery is a big part of my personal story. I’m sober coming up on three years and it’s been a huge journey in every way. Physically, I’m at the top of my game — mentally and spiritually as well. The timing was perfect for me to meet John Polimeni when I did because he’s such a spiritual dude, very tuned in. We immediately saw that power in each other. “Power of the Lightside” is about breaking through using all the blessings we have at our disposal. It’s about unity and love. It was the first song we wrote together and a sign post for what’s to come from this group. Our name came shortly after — Makesmyblooddance — which was a line from a Chris Poindexter poem expressing the feeling of love that comes over him when he looks at his girlfriend. That was magic to me. That’s where I’m at and how I want to connect with people, and with life. That kind of intensity and depth from a place of purity and clean living.
When I listen to the song “Communion,” it sounds like you are building up for a confrontation, is this something imaginary or a real-life struggle?
“Communion” is a thunderous beast, it’s about the imagined conflicts that we all create in our mind. It’s about choices and ultimately, it’s reminding us that it’s all our own personal delusion. I love that and I fashion my prayers that way. Instead of asking for something I’m thanking God for the blessings that are in my life and realizing them. This inevitably puts me in a position to help everyone.
Out of the six songs on this EP of yours, what did you find had the most beautiful story when it came to composing it?
Probably “Sick As Our Secrets.” That’s a song about love and about being gentle with yourself. Not beating yourself up, feeling guilt or shame. We live in a society that’s very critical while also, being very secretive and afraid. I found a lot of power in eye-gazing and connecting with people without any words, and ultimately without any fear. It’s a beautiful thing, come find me at a show and I’ll show you.
You had the legendary producer Dave Ogilvie mix your album. Can you tell me your afterthoughts on how the mix turned out?
We were introduced to Dave by our producer, Kallie Marie. Kallie worked with MMBD on pre–production of the album and made the connection to Dave O when it was time to mix. She has been a friend of mine since the Evan Russell Saffer days. We reconnected when I wanted to take MMBD into the studio, and she helped get us going.
Dave was listening to demos of ours for months before we engaged him. He was really digging our sound. It was as I always dreamed, very natural and honest without selling someone to work with us. Kallie did an amazing job of nurturing and fulfilling that relationship. She has a gentle way of communicating that’s very respectful and that was a part of our good fortune. Dave was incredible, the very first mixes were pretty much spot on. The work he did on my vocals especially made me proud to listen to myself. That can be difficult for many singers.
Out of all the albums Dave Ogilvie worked on, which three are you most fond of?
Tough one! He’s amazing and has a legendary resume but here are a few of my personal favorites: Antichrist Superstarby Marilyn Manson, All That Could Have Been by Nine Inch Nails, Giving the Devil His Due by Coal Chamber, Bowie, Sloan, Skinny Puppy, and Puscifer. Haha, I cheated and added more than three.
You own your own espresso bar, Kave. What types of things have you learned over time to run your establishment better?
To master anything, you have to stick with it. Kavebrooklyn.com is an amazing part of my story but it took time and there was a learning curve. Now Kave is a main stay in Bushwick, Brooklyn. Come visit!! I have stuck with music for a long time but I’ve changed my moniker so many times, it’s like starting over each time. I really believe in Makesmyblooddance and feel a strong connection with my band, I’m grateful at how amazing this is all turning out.
Thinking about all the years you have been a musician, which compositions of yours do you consider the most hallowed and why?
Of course, the album that put me on the map by Fixer (Before the Sun) and my solo record(Neon Gas). Each of those have gems. Hallowed (a.k.a. sacred — I had to look that up). The song “Tuxedo” by Fixer, “Dream of Love” by Evan Russell Saffer, and “Gimme a Kiss” by RainMKERS.And now I have six more songs with Makesmyblooddance: “Beaming Right Up,” “Power Of The Lightside,” “Communion,” “Drive To Mars”…they all have a shot at the “Hallowed be thy name” category.
Come to the shows, music has a power that should be experienced with others and connection is a wonderful thing. Sign up for the email list at makesmyblooddance.com, and follow our Instagram. Love you all. Thanks, Nick.
Catch Makes My Blood Dance performing live Jan. 25 at Kingsland in Brooklyn, and on Feb. 22 at Dingbatz in Clifton, N.J.