Orlando’s finest, Blaine the Mono, dropped its new album Virago and it is well worth the listen. It’s thought provoking, and the music is so addictive. Beautifully aggressive, led by female front-woman, Randi Stickles and the band collectively create memorable lyrics accompanied by a sound that is rarely heard. This band is unequivocally one of best bands I’ve come across in a very long time. Alternative rock fused with hard hitting blows that hit right into the chest. They’ve played some of the biggest venues, House of Blues, The Social, The Haven and won’t be stopping any time soon.
Blaine the Mono based out of central Florida is blazing the music scene with provocative lyrics and an alluring melodic sound. This band is no stranger to the music scene.
Having spent 13 years building a reputation as one of the best bands in central Florida, Blaine the Mono continues to build their fan base. These guys are striking the rock now and the sparks are flying! The live music experience is chilling and jaw dropping when paired with the haunting stage presence. The tracks in Virago are catchy, relatable and sweeping with many different ranges, twists and turns, never a dull moment. One of my favorites, “Haunted”, is a deeply beautiful composition that’s got that metal bite we love. It’s translated through the band’s residual life experiences that are most telling. More tracks like “Lullaby” and “Broken Knees” keep giving us more of their signature sound that is just too good to not experience.
Their latest album release at House of Blues packed out, as the fans have long awaited their live music presence. I was able to get some time in with the band for a Q&A.
Blaine the Mono is: Randi Stickles (vocals), Eric Joseph (guitar/backing vocals), Chris Culverwell (bass/backing vocals) and Jake Hodges (drums).
How did you guys hook up ?
- Eric: We’ve been together since 2010.
Tell us about the music, and your latest album Virgo?
- Randi: it is a collaborative process. Usually, Eric (occasionally Chris) brings new guitar. riffs/melodies to practice and we work on it from there. On the new album Virago “Lullaby” was politically driven. Fueled by the thought of hatred, inequality, and disparity of basic human rights being not only acceptable but the norm.
- Chris: The new album is a little more varied and dynamic than our last one. We try not to lock Ourselves in a box and stick to one type of style or sound.
- Eric: Virago is a culmination of music written before and after the pandemic. The album represents two eras of Blaine the Mono. The struggle of isolation and the empowerment of returning to society are both captured in the raw emotion contained in these tracks. We try to take you on a journey through the melodic beauty of Randi’s poetry with our powerful wall of sound.
What do you love about touring?
- Eric: Getting to really throw down in front of a new group of people each night. It feels amazing to get a positive response from people who aren’t as familiar with you as your hometown fans.
Most difficult time or struggles in the music Industry?
- Chris: Trying to figure out how to be successful, keep engagement up, keep merch/ticket prices reasonable, keep the bills paid, keep our careers healthy, and keep our family happy. Trying to balance all of this is a constant juggle.
What did you guys do when COVID hit ?
- Chris: We basically just wrote and practiced. We played some live stream shows with the help of 101 WJRR, so people were able to watch us from home. While it wasn’t the same as having them in front of us, we were happy to play for people at home.
What about your dream tours?
- Randi: That’s an endless list. Tool, A Perfect Circle, Thrice, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Demi, Hailstorm, The Arctic Monkeys, The Pretty Reckless, Highly Suspect, Dead Poet Society…
Any unique show stories or close calls?
- Eric: We were playing SXSW the year that someone drove a car down the street and killed several people. We were on our way to our second or third gig of the week when this happened. It was very scary!
How about the local scene? I know Orlando has a killer music scene.
- Eric: The Venues and Promoters in Central Florida have always been very supportive of the local scene. Supa Dave from 101.1 WJRR in Orlando has been one of our closest allies and has always given us opportunities to play great shows as well as promote us on the radio
Where do you see yourselves (collectively) in 5 years?
- Randi: Still probably trying to make music a profitable side-career or at least still having fun with it.
Where you guys plan to tour next ?
- Randi: We are currently working with Florida Promoters to begin touring around the state in support of our new album. After that, the goal is to mount another small US Tour.
What are your thoughts on being the front woman in a male dominated industry?
- Randi: I honestly feel like the music industry is one of the few places where being female isn’t considered a disadvantage. I’m not a minority here. The one thing I will say about our band style is that we incorporate some screaming and usually you only expect those kinds of gritty hardcore vocals from male musicians. So, I like to kind of challenge myself to be on par with what you would expect in the screaming department. I want listeners to be “pleasantly surprised” with the screams. and maybe even say “she can do it just as good, if not better than the boys”. My only advice would be to not allow the term “female musician” to define or restrict you. Only allow it to challenge you. At the end of the day as a musician, the beautiful part about your gift to be able to create art is that it is a way to express yourself in your truest form, and for that, you are completely boundless!
What is your message or something you strongly advocate for?
- Randi: Just be yourself and come original. We are passionate about what we do and hope that all of the people have the chance to enjoy doing what they love and feel creative.
More on Virago
Virago consists of 8 tracks, music in its purest form. There’s no way to express the talent that comes from this group. In this heavily saturated music business, Blaine the Mono has followed its own path and demonstrated its vision of what its music should represent — nothing less than the highest of standards. The music is beautifully composed/produced. There’s a great fusion of alt rock, melodic, and metal. Stickles slays the songs with her expansive range of vocals with such depth and deep haunting sweeps, she’s setting the tone for the music.
Virago kicks off with “Lullaby”. A masterpiece that exhumes your soul, no doubt the band has worked hard to culminate a true original presence that is rarely seen in this over saturated music industry. In Blaine the Mono’s words, “Lullaby” was politically driven. Fueled by the thought of hatred, inequality, and disparity of basic human rights being not only acceptable but the norm.”
As Randi explains, “Haunted” was written to represent the playful conversation you have with your significant other about how “if anything ever happens to me, I’ll haunt you”. But from the ghost’s perspective, you would want to make sure your presence is felt but not so much so that it doesn’t allow your loved one to move on. “Though I leave this life, I’ll never leave you. I’ll be that figure in the corner you can see through”. Just a subtle enough remind of their existence, mostly when they are alone with their thoughts. The bridge expresses the sadness you would feel having to witness them moving on and knowing the relationship they form with anyone else wouldn’t compare to the love you had for them.”
Check out this album, Virago is one of the best I’ve heard!
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