Art Rock

Concrete Blonde's Johnette Napolitano On Halloween & The Pressures Of Bloodletting

Concrete Blonde emerged from the crucible of 1980s post-punk L.A., fueled by Jim Mankey's signature guitar riffs and the introspective lyrics and distinctive wail of singer/bassist Johnette Napolitano. Their early history is well known, down to the oft-repeated story of how Michael Stipe gave the band their name (it's not much of a story, actually, he just suggested the name "Concrete Blonde").

The group's biggest album was 1990's Bloodletting, a foreboding effort inspired by Anne Rice and the end of what Napolitano called a "particularly bad relationship." It spawned CB's only Top 20 hit ("Joey") and pegged the group as goth darlings, which was unfortunate. The band never enjoyed a repeat of that success, releasing two more albums before breaking up in 1993, reuniting (and breaking up) again, releasing two more albums (Group Therapy and Mojave) before finally, apparently, calling it quits for good in 2006.

Not to rely too heavily on the vampire metaphor, but Concrete Blonde are back from the dead again, playing a series of shows in the Lone Star State this week. Rocks Off talked to Napolitano about fatherhood, privacy, art, and what we can expect from Sunday's gig at Fitzgerald's.

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Peter Vonder Haar writes movie reviews for the Houston Press and the occasional book. The first three novels in the "Clarke & Clarke Mysteries" - Lucky Town, Point Blank, and Empty Sky - are out now.
Contact: Pete Vonder Haar