Editor’s Note: It was a great time conversing with the indie punksters The Blind Staggers for Madness To Creation. The Blind Staggers will be releasing “Doing Alright…Considering” coming up and Laura and Damien both sat down to talk with us about the upcoming album and the ever important topic of mental health awareness. The Blind Staggers are composed of Laura Zielinski on vocals, Damien Christian Wilburn on guitar/vocals, Tony Lee on guitars, Bha on drums and Shrek on bass. Fans can find The Blind Staggers at the following locations:
Madness To Creation: “Doing Alright…Considering” is coming out February 28th, what was the most challenging and rewarding aspect of writing this album?
Damien: 1000 miles. When we started writing this record Laura and Tony has just gotten married and were about to move to Denver for a couple of years with Shrek, Braden and I staying back here in Chicago. So we wrote and demoed a large portion of the record before they left. We’d never had a deadline before. It was great to just write and write and see what worked. There was a lot of change going on in our lives and you can hear it in the songs on this record. Laura was moving to a new city and I had recently put the bottle down. The winds of change were pretty obvious. Even the sound of the band had changed, leaning a little more on rock and roll than the dark Americana we had leaned so heavily on in the past. After Tony and Laura moved, we continued to write and practice as a three piece sending what we had to them in Denver. Then they’d put their parts in and we’d practice it together and record when they would come home to visit. It made the recording process take a very long time. We’d never had to deal with a member not being at weekly practice let alone two. As much as it was a challenge it was extraordinarily rewarding to pull it off and come out with an album we are all very proud of.
Laura: It was definitely a challenge trying to get this album done while I was living across the country. I had a hard time knowing the the guys were getting together every week without me. It was kind of impossible not to feel left out and letting the guys down. However, it made the time that we did have together all the more important. I also really appreciated that Damien always made a conscious effort to leave room for me on all that they were writing back home without me. Thanks buddy!
Madness To Creation: You premiered “Used To Party” via New Noise Magazine, take us into the video and the song, what message do you want/hope to convey?
Damien: The song is about what happens when the party goes too far. One minute you’re the life of the party the next you’re just doing drugs because doing drugs is what you do. It’s heavy and messy and sad, as it should be. Drug problems are no joke. The video on the other hand is. It’s all jokes. The concept was old folks getting together for a visit and getting accidentally wasted on each others medication. It’s very slapstick and meant to make you laugh. Which is a stark contrast to the lyrics of the song.
Laura: I guess that’s kind of our M.O. Serious lyrics in a funny wrapper. We did have some very serious fun making that video and hope that it comes across.
Madness To Creation: Your biggest strength/biggest weakness as a member of The Blind Staggers.
Damien: For better or worse I’m the band dad. I book a large portion of the shows and do a lot of the business. It’s not my strong suit but someone’s gotta do it.
Laura: I’m a little Monster… I can get a little out of hand but I try to keep a positive vibe and connect with the lovely people that we are fortunate enough to have at our shows supporting us. That and being Damien’s sounding board, he’s got this shit down but I’m happy for him to bend my ear when need be.
Madness To Creation: You have a big record release show at Beat Kitchen in Chicago, what can fans expect from a live show from The Blind Staggers?
Damien: A good time! I’ve heard us described as a party band. As a person creating the songs, I would not have put us in that category, but I get it. We love to party. We want the crowd to have a good time and we want to create that atmosphere. When you see us play we are all smiles. This band is made up of mostly family. Tony is my brother and Shrek is Laura’s brother and like I said Laura and tony are married with our dude Braden rounding out the band on drums. It’s never lost on us that we get to share these experiences with each other. It’s infectious. If we’re having a good time then you’ll have a good time.
Laura: We’re there for a good time. We’re a loud, goofy family that genuinely enjoy each others’ company. The fact that we’re a bunch of hams probably doesn’t hurt.
Madness To Creation: Best moment ever on stage was when….
Damien: For me it was playing Metro here in Chicago the first time. It’s a venue I’d been going to since I started going to shows. I worked at the bar next door so some of my staff were my best buds. I really wanted to do well and make everyone proud. We were playing a St. Patrick’s day show with the Tossers to a packed room. Right before we played they blacked out the stage lights and the crowd erupted. I got goose bumps. The show is a blur after that. But hearing that room go wild was a great moment.
Laura: Mine has got to be a toss up between that Metro show and our wedding show, Til Death Do us Party. The metro was a real milestone for us and something we all wanted to do since we were young, but the wedding show’s lineup was stocked with all our family’s and friends band. The room was jam packed with all the people the we love and have supported us for years. It was very heartwarming and overwhelmingly touching.
Madness To Creation: We cover Mental Health Awareness in hopes to normalize mental health conversations between musicians, what advice do you have for our readers and what do you do to help get through difficult times?
Damien: Open up honestly to someone you can trust, weather it’s a friend or professional. Talking it out has helped me considerably. I’ve battled a lot of sadness and depression over the years. I never dealt with it well. I’d bottle it all up. I drank a lot for a long time. Which I think a lot of people do. Insecurities and fear of failure can be crippling. At some point heavily self medicating ran its course. Be open and honest with yourself, talk it out. You might answer some of your own questions about why you feel that way and what to do about it. I’m so stoked the stigma of having mental health issues is being lifted. Being a human in this world can be very hard. Everyone has problems, you’re not alone. The more we all talk about it, the more we all realize it.
Laura: I’m definitely a pretty sensitive person. I’ve struggled with body image and insecurities but having a strong core of people you really love and trust is key. This band formed when I really needed it and I think it still exists to this day because WE need it to. Turning your struggles into something beautiful, regardless of the medium, is empowering. I’ve always been fortunate to have a great family and supportive friends but sometimes that just isn’t enough. mental health is super important and I am stoked to see that mental health care is becoming more readily available, and through different avenues even. We’ve all got our demons, but tomorrow is a new day. Don’t be afraid to lean on your loved ones when you need it or to ask for help. You aren’t alone.
And there you have it! The Blind Staggers have several gigs coming up. Check out the gig dates below:
Sat. 2/29- Beat Kitchen in Chicago, Illinois
Sat. 3/21- Live Wire Lounge in Chicago, Illinois
Fri. 4/3- Blue Note in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma