Why did Blame It On Rio start?
Well, you can sorta blame it on Green Day.
And Jon Katt's father.
And Camelot Music.
During a recent early morning interview, Katt, guitarist and vocalist for the group, and Josh Hatfield, who also provides guitar and vocalist duties, talked about their band's birth a year and a half ago. They also talked about being on the Warped Tour, which they were preparing to travel to the morning I talked to them. Their other bandmates, Dan Edwards, who plays bass, and Nathaniel Tuttle, drums, would join them later that morning.
So how does a band that's been around for such a short time make it onto the Warped Tour? First off, Blame It On Rio is good. I'm a difficult person to impress when it comes to music, but the sampler disc the band so kindly provided me is proof they deserve to be famous. Their music, which Katt described as "radio-friendly pop punk," is just that. The musicianship is good, and the music is just plain fun. Katt adds the group is a combination of New Found Glory, Green Day and MXPX.
"You just shake them up, and that's us," he says.
As for their Warped Tour gig, well, I'll let Katt tell the story.
"We kinda just went to the Warped Tour site ... and there was a thing for the Ernie Ball Battle of the Bands ... so I clicked it and it gave all the details, like submit a song, and bio and pictures," says Katt. Four bands would be chosen to play for each venue, and Blame It On Rio was one of them. Corporate Circus, of Warsaw, and Indianapolis-based Project Bottlecap and Short of a Dollar were the other three. They were picked from a field of 84 bands that submitted songs.
Matt Jericho, host of "Essentials: The Show" on WXTW 102.3, is not surprised Blame It On Rio got a spot on the Warped Tour.
"I definitely think they're above average," says Jericho. "They're very 1998-1999 MXPX. They're the closest thing I can compare them to."
However, he adds, "They've definitely have a style of their own."
Jericho was first made aware of the band last year, and invited them to come on the show. He helped get the demos they recorded some airplay on college radio stations, and suggested they send some material to someone at Warner Bros.
Jericho, who helps out several local bands as a sort of unofficial consultant, is also not surprised two of the four bands that were picked for
the Indianapolis stop of the Warped Tour were from the Fort Wayne area. He cites a broad range of talent, such as Strut Train, Rosemary Gates and Corporate Circus, plus several other bands from different genres that give the Summit City an edge over Indianapolis when it comes to musical choice. Plus, he adds, "Fort Wayne's got a better punk scene than Indy."
But now, as I write this, it's August, and Blame It On Rio has been to the Warped Tour and back. Katt says he had such a great time, he was depressed for two days after he returned.
"It was so much fun. We met so many cool people," he recalls. Those people included members of New Found Glory, No FX, No Use For a Name, Reel Big Fish and three of the guys from Good Charlotte.
Blame It On Rio's 20-minute set was 'flawless,'" says Katt. "It was one of the better sets we've ever played."
This, despite the fact they weren't allowed to do their flaming drum kit routine, which involves putting lighter fluid on the cymbals, and Katt suffering an injury minutes before they hit the stage.
"I hurt my finger before we started playing," says Katt. "It was bleeding ... but I persevered through the pain."
Katt says he wishes the band had been invited to play for more dates than just the show in Indianapolis. But Katt's and Hatfield's Warped Tour experience isn't over yet. The pair still have their passes, which will allow them to see the tour in Florida and North Carolina.
So what does Green Day have to do with Blame It On Rio's start? An introduction to Green Day, and hearing a couple of their albums hooked Katt into the band's music.
"They were the only band that had punk in the mainstream," he says.
And Katt's father used to play in a band. So when Katt requested a guitar, his father bought him one for Christmas.
"I took about three lessons," says Katt. Fed up with the beginner-type songs usually taught in introductory guitar lessons, he went online to get tabs - numbers that tell you where to put your fingers - so he could play the music he really wanted to play.
Camelot Music also played a part in the formation of the band.
"Originally, my oldest brother, Jeff Caldwell, Dan and Tut (Tuttle) all worked at Camelot," says Katt. Caldwell had been in the Slamhounds, and Edwards had been in numerous bands. Tuttle was formerly a Migraine.
Katt recalls spending months rehearsing in a basement before playing out. For a band that's been together such a short amount of time, the hard work has paid off. After their set at the Warped Tour, Katt says someone came up to him and asked what label the band was on. They're not on anyone's label, but the band has completed a full-length CD recorded and waiting to be pressed. It should be a treat for fans of Green Day, MXPX and, oh yeah, Blame It On Rio.
Right now, Katt says the band is concentrating on writing and building their fan base. For booking information, visit www.BlameItOnRio.net or call 260-497-8583. You can also email Katt at Jonnylovespie@aol.com.