For over 25 years, Life in a Blender has been the canvas for singer and songwriter Don Rauf’s blackly comic landscapes. The group has released albums ranging from screaming punk to orchestrated chamber pop, and has brought the high theatrics of its live act to stages from Berlin to Austin to Toronto to Brooklyn and Seattle.
Don Rauf formed the band with high school friend Dave Moody (then bassist, now cellist), and within a couple of years had acquired the drumming services of Ken Meyer. Guitarist Al Houghton and bassist Mark Lerner joined in 1992, and violinist Rebecca Weiner Tompkins signed on in 1993. While the band’s core lineup has remained remarkably constant for the past 18 years, the list of former members, guest artists, and collaborators includes Chris Butler (The Waitresses, Tin Huey), Chris Rael (Church of Betty), Jonathan Gregg, John Linnell (They Might Be Giants), Gavin Smith (Les Sans Culottes), Susan Hwang (Debutante Hour), Brian Dewan, and Olivier Conan (Chicha Libre, Las Rubias Del Norte).
The band’s forthcoming album, Satsuma, is being released on November 20th on Fang Records. The 10th studio outing from the band was produced at guitarist Al Houghton’s Dubway Studio in New York City, and this this six song EP is brimming with the band’s singular, signature brand of punky, brainy indie pop.
Satsuma features the act’s long-time lineup of Rauf, guitarist and cellist Dave Moody, Houghton, bassist Mark Lerner, drummer Ken Meyer, and violinist Rebecca Weiner Tompkins, augmented by guest horn players Jackie Coleman (trumpet), Drew Krasner (alto sax), and Kevin Moehringer (trombone).
Today Glide is offering an exclusive premiere of “Soul Deliverer,” one of the standout tracks on the new album. Firing off with a thunderous drum beat and some flashy guitar, the song marries a punk energy with rockabilly twang and brassy soul. This unexpected combo results in a melodic and surprisingly poppy style of energetic rock, bringing to mind more free-wheeling indie rockers of the 80s. There are hints of ska and plenty of fiesty riffs to feast on throughout the song and spoken word lyrics that bring to mind acts like the Hold Steady alongside the Clash, making it a tune that carries the kind of energy that would translate exceptionally well in the live setting…if that ever happens again. The song is based on the book The Tiger’s Wife, by Téa Obreht, and the video was made by Mark Lerner and Nancy Howell.
Mark Lerner: I make music videos with my wife, Nancy Howell, as “The Mark of Nancy,” but this was our first time making one for a song I actually played on. I read—and loved—the book the song is based on (The Tiger’s Wife by Téa Obreht). Our motto for was QUANTITY. We wrote/typeset/constructed about 3000 words for the shoot. For the instrumental sections, I wanted to dig up some bones but I misread the size of the plastic skeleton I ordered online and when it arrived it was only about a foot tall. The show must go on: We made a miniature shovel, filled our cat’s litter box with dirt and leaves, and waited for the Academy to come calling.
Don Rauf: I wrote Soul Deliverer based on Tea Obreht’s novel The Tiger’s Wife for the Bushwick Book Club, a creative project started by Susan Hwang that requires musicians to create a song about a specific book. The Soul Deliverer in the song is Deathless, a character who is always smiling and collects souls. The soul begins a 40-day journey on the morning after death. I reimagined the character as a fellow who transports souls but works at an express shipping type of service like UPS. The Deathless Man is cursed to never die, but he can tell foretell the death of others from the grounds in a coffee cup. Dr. Leandro in the book meets Deathless but doesn’t believe he cannot die. Dr. Leandro pledges to give Deathless his cherished copy of The Jungle Book if Deathless emerges from a lake weighted down by chains. When Deathless comes out of the water, Leandro refuses to give him the book. Deathless and Dr. Leandro meet years later over a dinner of John Dory fish and the drink rakije.
Photo credit: David Barry