"Baby they told us we would rise again/ As I recall they never filled us in about when."
-"Easter Eggs" by Bloodkin
Baby, They Told Us We Would Rise Again (released February 17 on SCI Fidelity), Bloodkin's eighth album (including a live one), might be their best yet; but it almost never happened. Following the release of their last album, 2005's Last Night Out, friends and family feared the worst and it appeared the end was near.
"My rock bottom happened during the recording Last Night Out," recalls Daniel Hutchens, who along with Eric Carter has been the core of Bloodkin for more than 20 years. "I assumed it was the last time I'd ever be in a recording studio. I was ready to die, not disturbed by that notion at all. Just slamming as much cocaine and liquor into my system as I could, every day, waiting for my heart to explode."
It wasn't just Hutchens who was in free fall. A few years earlier, in 2000, close friend and manager Zac Weil died and Carter was closing in on the same fate. "Eric's form of self-destruction had been much slower and longer, with sad, terrible stories stretching all the way back to the late '80s" says Hutchens. "There were some years toward the end there where I felt like I was holding my breath most of the time, waiting for the phone call to bring me the bad news about Eric, or even just looking over at him while he nodded out onstage, and just not knowing what the fuck to do. He was going to die, and I didn't know how to stop it. He had become completely non-functional, couldn't eat or speak coherently, could barely walk half the time, let alone play much guitar. I already missed him. He was already gone. And nowadays it's like a fucking miracle, because I suddenly have my best friend back."
This is the story of Bloodkin circa 2009. From death's doorstep to a triumphant new album full of life and love, a wildly successful tour with the Drive-By Truckers and even a high-profile slot in Rolling Stone, the time has come for Hutchens and Carter to rise again and this album will forever cast a light down their dark, crooked path.
But, don't go getting the wrong idea. This is still Bloodkin and there's plenty of bite and bile, mean guitars, and that dark genius Southern Gothic songwriting, but now in their forties, the pain is tempered by life's sweeter side found in areas like Hutchens' wife, two new children, sobriety and the simple joy of a sunny day. However, that doesn't really explain why the album starts with a seven-and-a-half-minute kick to the chest:
You wake up your smile is strange
Crooked with sugar coated pain
Your tongue is stained with the name
The purple blood of The Viper
So you put a shotgun in your mouth
But you can't pull that trigger now
Your hands are dealing for the house
Now you're working for The Viper
"The record starts with the song 'The Viper,' which if taken out of the context of the whole record, could be considered a downer, but it's a starting point, the first chapter" explains Hutchens. "And the last chapter is 'Summer In Georgia,' and the songs in between are the journey between those two points, in a sense. If you compare the beginning to the end, it's indeed been a journey in a very positive direction."
|Danny Hutchens :: 01.24.09 by Roger Gupta|
So, what is "The Viper" really about?
"'The Viper' is a composite of myself and Eric Carter, what complete debris our lives had become due to our addictions, pains, losses, all that. He and I bottomed out at slightly different times, but we both wound up in really dark places with very little hope," says Hutchens. "'The Viper' is a portrait of that dark place, which, once again, serves as a preface for the salvation described later in the record."
Danny Hutchens and Eric Carter first met when they were eight years old. They were neighbors in a small West Virginia town and it didn't take more than a shared love of baseball, comic books and rock music to cement a relationship that would last a lifetime. To call it a friendship would undersell what this is. Danny and Eric's bond is deeper, this is like family, like brothers, Bloodkin if you will.
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