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The Living Blue – The Three Elements Fire Blood and Water

The Living Blue is a four-piece from Champaign, IL that assembles poppy, stripped down rock covering all the bases of southern-style, blues-driven garage, delivered through a relentlessly scaling, Richard Hell/Johnny Thunders-reminiscent whine of strings and served up with an infectious, piercingly melodic vocal track that bears a range and power invoking Dramarama’s finer moments.

Kaffeine Buzz got the full scoop on the band’s history, inspiration and philosophies from its vocal talent and co-axer, Stephen Ucherek:

Bloody knuckles and Blackouts

We started out in ’98, right when I got out of high school. It was just Joe (Prokop, guitar) and me (Stephen Ucherek, guitar, vocals). We were all about The Cramps and Link Wray… (We were obsessed with The Cramps, basically.) We got my older brother to play drums and called ourselves The Bloody Knuckles. We ended up turning that into The Blackouts about two years later – after we moved to Champaign.

I bought some recording gear and we recorded six songs; made about a hundred copies of Living in Blue. It was all DIY – we even made the cover ourselves… That got around to the guy at Lucid Records. He came to one of our shows and signed us that night. That was 2001. He put out our first releases as The Blackouts, Every Day is a Sunday Evening and Living in Blue.

Those recordings are still around. We have boxes of them, and every once in a while I see them in stores. There wasn’t a very big push because Lucid is a really small label and the owner doesn’t do a very good job with things (that’s a whole ‘nother story).

Then Came The Living Blue.

When we released Living in Blue as The Blackouts, Lucid didn’t do a radio push or any kind of promo because the guy who owns the label was on a reunion tour with his old band. They basically just had the record made, but it didn’t get worked. So, we didn’t know what to do, and I was lookin’ for ways to get us out there.

We were really stoked about the record. We thought it was the best one we’d made up ‘til then, and we wanted to get it out there. So, we entered the Little Steven’s Undreground Battle of the Bands thing. We won the Chicago one and then the national one at Irving Plaza in New York as well. I guess that’s what got us signed to Minty Fresh; and it put us on the map nationally – cuz we were really unknown, y’know…

The Secret to Success

On Fire, Blood, Water I wrote a little more than half of the songs, and Joe writes the others; we’re the core of the band. Joe writes music too; we do all this stuff together.

Our lyrics are a mix of personal stuff, some political undertones—not necessarily blatant. When I write lyrics, it’s either just ‘how I see the world’, or other times I’m putting myself in someone else’s perspective, like on Conquistador. I love that about songwriting because people take all these meanings from it (or think ‘this guys crazy…’)

State of Affairs was a really personal song for me. ‘The air is thick with disease/but the sky is blue like the sea.’ It’s like, you know things are happening that are horrible terrible, but it’s all blue skies and everything’s fine here.


We try to stay active. You know the live show is pretty much our bread and butter. We like to be working and playing music. This will be our third time out west in the past eight months. The first time we went to LA we got really good reception. We played the Silver Lake Lounge and it was packed.

We’d been going to New York for years, playing all these bills, and it’s just so hard to get anyone’s attention in these big cities. So, going to LA last fall for the first time was really cool; the whole West Coast has been really good to us. We’ve been selling about a hundred records a week, and when we’re on tour we sell about 4-5 a night, which is pretty good.

For now, we’re gonna keep working Fire, Blood Water—it’s gonna be released in France and Japan in September. We’ll be touring Europe this fall with The Saints. In the meantime, we’ll keep demo-ing stuff and putting ideas together. We’ll probably do another record this coming spring. We’ve been writing a bunch—got a ton of material. We have a few new tracks in our set now.

Pure Lo-Fi

We went to Gravity Studios in Chicago for Fire, Blood, Water, and they had a ’73 Meise console and a two-inch tape machine. The Japanese label is gonna press up a hundred vinyl copies. Minty Fresh isn’t that crazy about vinyl; they’re into iTunes and all that new stuff. I love my vinyl. With music, all this new digital stuff cheapens it. It’s like, ‘oh I got that; I can download that…’ With records, it’s something tangible.

Check out the Website(s) for more info, and to get an earful of these gentlemen. The Living Blue play the Hi-Dive in Denver on Friday, August 4th.


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