- An Interview with Human Drama Jammerzine Exclusive 50:02
In today’s Jammerzine Exclusive, we talk to literal legends of music in the form of Johnny Indovina and Mark Balderas from Human Drama. And by legends I mean immensely talented musicians and true human beings. Human Drama is one of those sacred icons of music having evolved musically for almost five decades and showing no signs of slowing down while doing everything on their own terms. This, to me, is that unspoken achievement rarely achieved and almost never accomplished.
Their latest album, titled ‘Blurred Images‘, is a continuance of their evolution of revolution that began with ‘Hopes Prayers Dreams Heart Soul Mind Love Life Death’ and refined and remolded through ‘Broken Songs for Broken People‘. Retaining that core sound while evolving into new forms of music is the sign of true musicians and artisans.
On ‘Blurred Images’ throughout, you get a set of personal takes on the snapshots of life. You will hear about this in detail in the interview. Musically, the album is blurred in genres at times yet comes together succinctly as a concept. Some will say that this fits a metaphor of a scrapbook filled with images, but personally, I feel that it is a single canvas of paintings molding into one another. Not knowing where one begins and another ends, but, collectively, make something whole.
On April 30th, 2021, Human Drama will release “Blurred Images”, their 14th official release on, Sunset Blvd. Records.
Check out Rolling Stone’s article on ‘Blurred Images’ HERE.
About ‘Blurred Images’
It was a section of my life that I tried to forget. Then one day I heard a piece of music and
I started to speak over this music. “I dreamed of the mountains”…
Two minutes later I realized I was saying goodbye to something that I hardly ever (maybe never) consciously let surface. So I brought something to a final resting place? No.
I finally was fully addressing something that had been lying beside me every moment of my life since 1996. It kind of sat there “adjusting things”, so to speak. So I looked it in the eye, and said “Farewell”.
But it couldn’t simply end there. It was now time to let every aspect of that time in my life, all the little moments that contributed to the monumental event that would guide my life from far beneath the surface, to the surface… this album starts at goodbye, and reflects backwards.
So I strategically next sang about a beautiful night on Delaney Street in 1993. Beautiful, look what I found. Something beautiful and miles away from my ability to feel now. Then it got dark. No surprise, I was ready for it. And the conversation was more easy this time. I guess this story may make a cohesive piece of music…another “concept” album. It happened in New York, 1992-1996.
So the story continued. “King of Kings”, “ One more Time Around the Lake“, “ Into Our Escape”, “ Another Crash”, “Let The Memories Live Here, Sometimes, I’m Looking, and February 10th. All pieces of a whole. There are many layers of responsibility in most situations, and many layers of responsibility to the damages that occur from “love”. This is a very different album of “love” songs…
Johnny Indovina February 2021
About Human Drama
Human Drama grew out of the new wave/rock band The Models featuring Indovina, Michael Ciravolo (Guitar), Steve Fuxan (Bass) and Charlie Bouis (Drums), which formed in 1980 in New Orleans. Eventually relocating to Los Angeles in 1985 and adding Keyboardist Mark Balderas, Human Drama became an integral part of the “Scream Scene” of bands that played regularly at the famed nightclub Scream, Human Drama signed to RCA Records and released their debut EP, “Hopes, Prayers, Dreams, Heart, Soul, Mind, Love, Life, Death” followed by “Feel” in 1989.
Both produced by Ian Broudie (Echo and the Bunnymen, The Fall, The Lightning Seeds and many others), “Feel” is an edgy, viscerally emotional collection of alternative rock with strong melodic hooks, deeply introspective lyrics, sweltering guitar and vocals by Indovina equally convincing as a tortured whisper or a throat-shredding howl. Unfortunately, “Feel” was a victim of label mishandling and ultimately did not approach its commercial potential. Tracks like “Death of An Angel,” “Heaven on Earth” and “I Could Be a Killer” should have been major hits on alternative radio, but the album went largely unnoticed. Undeterred by their disappointing experience with a major label, Human Drama went the independent route with their second album, and despite working with a fraction of the budget the result was their masterpiece, 1992’s “The World Inside.” Human Drama set aside the searing rock of “Feel“ for a more acoustic-based sound made magic by dazzling strings and Indovina’s powerfully resonant voice.
Brilliant from start to finish, standouts include the single “Fascination and Fear,” the melodic folk-rock gem “Tears” and the propulsive rocker “Look into a Stranger’s Eyes.” The album won plaudits and critical acclaim, and although commercial success remained elusive, Indovina and his collaborators found the path that would lead them to several more outstanding releases.
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The 1993 covers album “Pin Ups,” homage to David Bowie’s 1973 classic of the same name, includes a breathtaking reimagining of Joy Division’s “Love Will Tear Us Apart” roiling with tension and passion. Indovina takes on songs by Bowie himself as well as Leonard Cohen, Lou Reed, The Rolling Stones, Tom Waits and others. A year later, after a particularly prolific period for Indovina, Human Drama released the Human Drama EP featuring the newly arranged version of the classic epic “The Waiting Hour” reduced to piano, strings and flute. In 1995 Human Drama unleashed the 25-song behemoth “Songs of Betrayal,” a master class in songwriting that ranges from tense and raucous electric-guitar driven tracks like “Another Fifty Miles” and “It Is Fear” to piercingly beautiful ballads like “Blue” and “This Forgotten Love.” The album was reissued four years later in two separate parts with the addition of several bonus tracks.
Human Drama’s blistering 1996 live album “Fourteen Thousand Three Hundred Eighty Four Days Later,” which refers to the exact number of days Indovina had been alive up to the date of the recording, presents the full power of the band’s electrifying live performances. Particular highlights are a white-hot rendition of Leonard Cohen’s “Who by Fire” and a fervid take on their early gem “Wave of Darkness.” Another epic studio album followed, 1999’s “Solemn Sun Setting,” a deep collection of passionate performances. The album’s long and diverse, from the exquisite ballads “Single White Rose” and “Love’s Way” to the expansive and dramatic “March On” to the deliciously eerie psychedelia of “My Denial.” Human Drama’s final album (until now) came with “Cause and Effect” in 2002. After the largely downbeat and mellow “Solemn Sun Setting,” Human Drama set the strings aside and came out guitars blazing on feverish rockers like “Goodbye Sweetheart” and “I Am Not Here.” Indovina did not abandon his gift for stunning balladry though, as “Lonely,” swirling with sumptuous piano is one of the finest of his career.
Human Drama disbanded and Indovina pursued a side project, Sound of the Blue Heart, with whom he released two solid albums: “Beauty?…” and “Wind of Change.” Indovina finally released his first solo album in 2014 with “Trials of the Writer,” an intimate and deeply personal reflection on the intense emotional connection between the songwriter and the soul-bearing compositions that document his life with honesty, poignancy, and sometimes rage and heartbreak.
Human Drama was not quite finished, though. The encouragement of their fans brought them together for two landmark shows. The band reunited in August 2012 for a triumphant performance at El Plaza Condesa in Mexico City, where Human Drama has amassed a sizable fan base. Three years later, in a 2015 show marking Human Drama’s 30th anniversary, they delivered a marathon performance at the Circo Volador in Mexico City on Halloween night. They played 42 songs in all, ending with the first new Human Drama track in 13 years, “The Liar Inside.”
The enthusiasm of the fans and the successful first experiment in resurrecting Human Drama in the studio with “The Liar Inside” led to Indovina diving into an intense journey of songwriting, the result being “Broken Songs for Broken People.” The album delivers the essence of what Human Drama has always been about: emotional songs that veer between those brimming with delicate beauty and those that are piercingly fraught with tension and pain.
“Broken Songs for Broken People” included many familiar collaborators from albums past back into the fold for the new project. He’s joined by original member’s bassist Steve Fuxan, guitarist Michael Ciravolo and Charlie Bouis (who contributed some engineering and mixing on the album), all veterans of a substantial portion of Human Drama’s output. On drums is Rob Cournoyer (another native of New Orleans) who also appeared on “Cause and Effect” and Sound of the Blue Heart “Beauty?”. And of course, original member keyboardist Mark Balderas, who has been such a pivotal part of the band’s sound through all their best work, provides stunning work on the piano, Hammond B3, Mellotron and Wurlitzer. Also featured are Curt Harding, who appeared on both “The World Inside” and “Pin-ups,” contributes bass on “Trying to Make Sense of It All.”
Vocalist Shea Alexander nails a stunning vocal on her duet with Indovina, “Love Lies Still,” which also features bassist Chris Severin a talented New Orleans-based musician who’s worked with the likes of the Neville Brothers and Dr. John plus veteran ace Carlo Nuccio, a New Orleans-based drummer who’s worked on an impressive string of landmark albums including Emmylou Harris’ “Red Dirt Girl” and Tori Amos’ “Under the Pink.” Sound of the Blue Heart members Timothy Grove who plays guitar on “A Long Time Ago”, “Love Lies Still” and “Trying to Make Sense of It All” which also includes drummer Peter Straub. The strings have returned, exquisitely performed on various tracks by Emmanuel Lauren, Guierrmo Gutierrez, Lyn Bertles, and Alicia Enstrom. Indovina leads the charge as always, and from the chill-inducing opening chords of the title song, it was clear that Human Drama was back, and in full creative force.
SOURCE: Official Bio