The first time I spoke with Blankface guitarist Mitchell Marlow he was shopping for a robe. “I wear my girlfriend’s robe all the time and it’s so soft, it’s like hanging out in a blanket,” he said. “So I thought I’d go out and get myself one.” The next time I spoke with him, later that evening, he was wearing it. “It’s pretty comfortable,” Marlow said. That about sums up Marlow and Blankface, a laid back punk band that made music at an early age and has decided to have a reunion show since all the original members are now in the Chapel Hill area.
Marlow, who now plays and tours with the band Filter, (yes, the “Hey Man, Nice Shot” Filter), talked very fondly of the high school touring days of Blankface. The band started in 1995, with all but one member of the band still in high school at Orange High in Hillsborough, NC. Their influences included, but were not limited to, Quicksand, Sam I Am, Braid, The Get Up Kids, and Helmet. Searching through their one and only album, A Better Day, you get this range compressed into 13 pop and emotion laced punk songs. This was before pop punk spread into the mainstream and years ahead of the breakout of “Emo.” Yes, before Chris Carraba broke off from Further Seems Forever and started his own solo project, Dashboard Confessional, if anyone reading this cares to remember those days.
Blankface toured with other local bands during their summers off from high school in a short bus they bought and renovated with carpet and couches. They toured mostly in North Carolina, Georgia and Virginia. Most of their local shows were at the Lizard & Snake in Chapel Hill and their final show was at Cat’s Cradle in 1997 (packed). Marlow spoke a lot about what it was like for a band to tour before the internet, expressing that BookYourOwnFuckingLife magazine was their main source of information and tour date distribution. It was started by the lead singer of NOFX and was one of the only ways to find out about punk shows in the mid to late nineties on a weekly to monthly basis.
After their senior year of high school, Blankface broke up when singer Jared Draughon decided to move to Italy and pursue his new found love of Mormonism. That didn’t work out so well and Jared moved back to the States years later. He and Marlow hooked up again for the band Classic Case. Marlow moved to Brooklyn for recording school and played with various bands including Glassjaw and He is Legend before reuniting with Draughon in Classic Case. The band Codeseven was always in the mix as well, playing shows with each of the bands mentioned before. Codeseven was one of the leading local bands in the hardcore punk movement and were loved for their cover of Don Henley’s “Boys of Summer.”
Draughon now plays with Telescreen, who I hear put on a rad multimedia live show. Marlow tours with Filter (playing Kuwait with Pussycat Dolls and Carlo Mencia) and runs Warrior Sound recording studio in Chapel Hill with Blankface bassist Al Jacobs. Drummer Sean Husick moved to Chicago for a while but has recently moved back to the area. It was this move back by Husick that got the band thinking a reunion show would be fun. Although Marlow had some doubts as to how many fans would turn out for the show since it was a holiday weekend, he said, “If it’s only a few of us, then I guess we’ll just rock out all night together and have some fun…. It may be just us and a bunch of friends or it could be packed, I’m not quite sure.” Marlow said he thinks there has been a good amount of presale but only Friday night will tell. The band has no plans for future shows or albums, just one last hurrah before descending into the punk rock sunset.
Tickets are $6 in Advance and $8 at the door.
A bit of shamless self promotion: The first film I ever made in college almost 10 years ago actually made use of a Blankface song as the guiding audio voice. Watch it here.