The Black-Tongued Bells: All About the Music
Named by a take on a Dylan Thomas poem, the Black Tongued Bells have played and paid their dues in current form the past twelve years. Their battleground is Los Angeles, a city the members describe as a tough one for musicians of any stripe.
Guitarist/Lead Vocalist D. Miner so described the Bells with the above sentence-he need not be more succinct. The Bells have a sound that draws on blues, rock, gospel and Americana.
Their new CD, Every Tongue Has a Tale to Tell has caught the Bells as they are right now, Miner says. "Capturing the soul of any band is the hardest thing. There's always technical issues technical people aren't happy with, but did it capture the heart and the soul of the machinery in motion, we felt that it did."
The band's roots date back to 2000, with Miner and drummer Ray Herron in the original lineup. "We found (bassist) Anthony (Cook) and we said, 'we'd like to have gospel singers on this thing. Louis Cox showed up with Mary Stuart; they were both singing in their church in their gospel choir."
There you have it. Listening to Every Tongue, you can hear the Stones influence through the chord progressions of "Midnight Porter." Dr. John, or at least his sound looms large in "Comin' Back for More." Miner's eerie growls on "Long Way to Go" remind of someone crawling from wreckage of whatever happened the night before.
Big thing for the band is the groove, a point made clear by Cook. "The rhythm sections we admire most, of course, Muscle Shoals, Stax, Motown, locally here in Los Angeles we had the Wrecking Crew. They really made an impact on who we are today."
"We spend hours working on the groove," Herron agrees, "until we find the right tone for a particular song. We spend a lot of time working on grooves, and we're all about that, and people will comment on that when we do shows."
Miner explains, "The rhythm sections come very natural to us; but once we have discovered which rhythmic format we want, that's when we start really digging into it deeper and putting it under the microscope."
So while the band stresses their sound is organic, hours and hours go into every track from what Miner, the songwriter brings in. He's quick to credit his mates: "I may bring in a body of work," he says, "but we've been together so long, we know our formula, it's very natural to us. The experimentation comes from all of us; with any formula we know so well at this point. I may bring in the song and the skeletal structure of the song; we all add our very specific signatures to it."