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Born Blind

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Just some weeks ago Born Blind released their new album: One For All. Because of this new album I had the chance to do this interview with vocalist Judd Morgan about the band's history, One For All, their recent tour with Selfmindead and hardcore in general.

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Interview With: Judd Morgan (vocals)

Date: July 24th 2000

Where: This is an E-mail interview. Date refers to date first mail.

Other Band-members: Nate Jarell (guitars), Chris Beckett (bass), Kurt (drums)

Band's Geographical Home: San Diego, USA

Discography: Pressing On (1998), One For All (2000).

Available Through: Born Blind & Solid State Records

Official Website: Born Blind

Interview By: mpo

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Just some weeks ago Born Blind released their new album: One For All. Because of this new album I had the chance to do this interview with vocalist Judd Morgan about the band's history, One For All, their recent tour with Selfmindead and hardcore in general.

Recently I received the new CD One For All. This is not the debut for the band as you released the album Pressing On last year. Musically you're much like No Innocent Victim and it's no surprise that three of the Born Blind members were in NIV for some time. Can you tell first why and by whom Born Blind was started.

Back in 1997, Nate and I decided we wanted to start another hardcore band. We initially asked Kurt to play with us, but he declined me twice. We tried out some other drummers and it just didn't work for us. Finally, I ran into Kurt again at the shopping center and told him that Nate and I were still looking for a drummer. He called me the next day and said he had prayed about it and said he would join. When I found out that I got Kurt, I called an old friend, Chris Beckett, and asked him if he would like to play guitar with us. He was reluctant to play hardcore again, but when he found out Kurt was going to do it, he decided that he would like to do it too. In the original lineup, Chris played guitar and I played bass and vocals. When we did our first show, we realized that it wasn't going to work out not having a separate singer. I told them that I didn't care if they got a different singer or bass player. Chris came out and said that he would try to play bass, and he did an excellent job at it, so it worked out that way.

Chris played in No Innocent Victim for some time, just like you and Kurt. Why didn't he pick up the chance to play in a hardcore band immediately, or why was he willing after he heard that Kurt's in the band too?

Chris wasn't really that interested in playing in a hardcore band because he kinda wanted to move on to another style of music that might be more challenging to him musically, but  he knew that playing with Kurt and the rest of us would be a lot of fun.

What were your main reasons to start another hardcore band?

Basically to serve God and have fun.

I can see the fun but could you tell more about the serving God part of it? It's clear that there ain't a phrase in the bible saying: Thou shall play in a hardcore band. So, how do you think you can serve God with Born Blind?

By encouraging others through the lyrics in the music.

Born Blind has a very cool logo with the dices and the letters that stand for Born Blind written on the dices in Braille. There's also a song on the new album called Born Blind. Is there something the band likes to express with that name?

Well, basically it means that we are all born blind spiritually, but God can open your spiritual eyes if you accept him.

In 1998 you got signed with Facedown Records of current NIV drummer Jason Dunn, followed by the Pressing On release in early 1999. Three
of the Born Blind members were in NIV and the band has the same kind
of influences. To my idea the band has a lot in common with NIV and there are many more who say that. What do you think of people referring to your band as "another NIV"?

Well, I'm glad you asked that!  Yes, we are totally trying to sound just like No Innocent Victim and we want to be just like them!!! (HA HA) No, I just think that we all come from some of the same musical background. I used to play with Jason Dunn in another band called Built To Last. Chris (Our Bassist) and Jason Moody (No Innocent Victim) used to be in a band together in high school.   Actually, Chris taught Corey Edelmann how to play guitar.  So maybe NIV sounds a lot like us!!! ;) Of course there are going to be some similarities, but I don't think we are just another No Innocent Victim. It's really easy to not really listen or not know about the music and just say we are another No Innocent Victim.

I think I agree with you on that one. Spending more time on the CD will make the differences clearer. I think Born Blind is not as harsh and metallic in sound as the current NIV (Flesh And Blood album) and I feel your grooves are more "swinging".  Do you agree or do you have something to add?

Nah, Not really.  I hate trying to put my own input into someone's opinions.  You just have to decide for yourself.

Unlike NIV you're signed with Solid State Records. I remember an interview with NIV after signing their deal with Victory saying they didn't want to sign with Tooth & Nail/Solid State. How comfortable are you with Solid State?

Very comfortable!  They are very accommodating to our needs and have been nothing but great to work with.

You have a new release entitled One For All. Personally I think it's definitely a step forward compared to Pressing On which was recorded in less than 18 hours, I'm told. One For All was also recorded with Steve Russel. How was it to record an album with Steve?

Steve is a really cool guy.  He gave us the freedom to do really anything we wanted.

Then I could have been the producer too! I just let you do what you want and I watch only! No, I'm joking. So, how was his involvement with the recording? Did he bring in ideas or was it mainly a support on the engineering side to get the right sounds?

He was mostly just the engineer.

Are you satisfied with the end result? Is it kind of what you've wanted to achieve both musically as sonically?

Yeah, for the most part.  I think we really wanted to catch our "live" sound on this record.  It's really hard to capture that kind of energy and we wish we could have gotten a little closer to that feeling. Besides that, there is always room for improvement.  For the most part I think it is a very good hardcore album.

You're from the San Diego area just like NIV. Is there anything like a specific style of hardcore there that can be referred to as San Diego Hardcore like NIV does? How is the scene over there?

Nah, not really.  There are many different styles of hardcore here. For the most part, the scene is very separated amongst the straight-edgers, vegans, Christians, and etc.  I hope we can do something to unite the scene, but there is a lot of animosity amongst the groups.

Really? Is this animosity because of differences of opinions? And what about the success of the hardcore influenced POD?  Does that have a supportive effect for the scene?

No, not really.  POD was never really a part of the hardcore scene. Yeah, there is a lot of animosity because of the differences of opinions. I think most of the non-Christians are bitter towards the Christians because they feel that Christian beliefs contradict or oppose their own.

You  did some touring in the US with Sweden's Selfmindead. Can you tell about some of your tour experiences?

Well, the experiences we did have were good, although very short lived.  We had to cut our tour short because we were losing money. The guys in Selfmindead  were really awesome guys!  They had great attitudes and were very persistent.  Their singer was actually deported back to Scandinavia and one of the guitar players had to learn the words to take his place.   They had to overcome tons of obstacles just to get here and tour while losing money all the way as well.

I heard about the cancellation of a couple of dates. I also heard about Selfmindead's singer who couldn't enter the country. Why was he deported back to Scandinavia?

I think it had something to do with having the wrong visa to enter the country, but I'm not completely sure about that.

What are your best recollections of the tour?

Walking around in Cleveland, Ohio, just looking at the buildings and architecture.  I love that city!

While on tour the new CD was ready but not yet released. Isn't it strange to tour with an album about to be released, or did you have advance copies to be sold at shows?

No we didn't.  I think it was a big mistake to tour without that record.  It probably really hurt us out on the road.  We probably won't tour anymore, aside from festivals, unless the new record does well.

Why wasn't it released then?

I have no idea.  You would have to ask Tooth and Nail about that.

Earlier you said the label is really accommodating to your needs. This seems rather an example of the opposite, or am I mistaken?

No, it really isn't an example.  I think they were trying really hard to get it out as soon as they could, but it wasn't possible.   I don't really know why it wasn't possible, but I know they did the best job they could. All I was saying is that we shouldn't have really gone out on tour before that album was out.

Selfmindead is not at all an old school band though their music is rooted in hardcore for sure. What do you think of their brand of hardcore?

Hmmm.... I didn't really think of them as a hardcore band.  Are they????

Well, like I said, it's definitely not old school stuff. But I think their music can still be referred to as hardcore, though their latest album has many other influences such as rock 'n roll. The screaming vocals could have been those on One For All. So, how would you like to describe their music and what do you think of their brand of music?

Well, I would like to say that just because a band has screaming vocals, that doesn't make them a hardcore band.  Hardcore is more an attitude than the music.  I think Selfmindead might be influenced by hardcore music, but I wouldn't consider them a hardcore band.  I don't think they really consider themselves a hardcore band either....maybe I'm wrong.  I guess it depends on what my definition of a hardcore band is and what someone else's opinion of a hardcore band is.   I think their music is cool, I just don't know how to label it..... maybe it's better that way.

How would you like to describe hardcore yourself? You said it's more an attitude than the music, so, what is hardcore and its attitude to you?

Hardcore music is a band that talks about real issues.  It's about staying true to yourself and what you believe, no matter what that is.  I think another thing about being a hardcore band is the willingness to look out for your friends, family and those who need your help.  You have to know where the roots of hardcore come from.  Some of the kids that are into hardcore now don't even know how or where it all started, and I think that is important.  I think when you know hardcore, you can just listen to the music and know whether or not the music is hardcore or not.

If Born Blind decides to sing about the girls only and doesn't have the attitude you described, would they still be a hardcore band even if the music didn't change? Or, in other words, what are your criterions to find out whether or not music is hardcore?

No, not in my opinion.  What attracted me to hardcore was the fact that hardcore bands were out to make a change through the lyrics.   Hardcore bands have been out there talking about how they would like to change the government, or how to live a good life, or whatever their opinion might be.  I don't think singing about girls really does anything to help anyone or make a change.    Now this only my opinion, someone else might have a different opinion.   That's fine with me.  I don't have a problem with anyone who disagrees with me.

Finally, what is your biggest wish for Born Blind?

That we would gather a large enough following to be able to go
out and tour and be successful.

Note from Solid State Records: The Born Blind CD wasn't available for their tour because artwork and manufacturing had not yet been completed and there was no way for us to bump up the release date in time for their already scheduled tour.  It would have been great if the CD could have been released before then, but unfortunately time constraints held it back. We did all we could.

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