Bloody Mary Morning
By Chris Jay 07/03/2014
A little history lesson
When the book about the Ventura music scene is written, there should be a chapter on Bloody Mary Morning. BMM was part of group of bands that in the mid- to late-’90s, kept clubs such as the long-since-gone Garfield’s, Nicholby’s and Bermuda Triangle packed to the rafters weekend after weekend. Back when seeing a live rock band was at the top of the list for entertainment options, Bloody Mary Morning seemed destined for bigger and better things, and the straight-up rock band was a front-runner to help break the happening Ventura scene to a national audience. For a host of reasons the band threw in the towel too soon with only one full-length to keep the memory alive. Lucky for us, though, Bloody Mary Morning has not only returned, but it’s just released a stellar new record that hopefully will cement its reputation as one of Ventura’s more popular and important bands — then and now.
Fanning the flame
Bloody Mary Morning may have been on a decade or so hiatus, but several members kept active in the local music scene, most notably Kelly Turner, who formed Big Dictator. While Bloody Mary Morning fans supported Big Dictator, a band that is admittedly heavier on the punk and hard rock influence than BMM, Turner was still faced with questions about a Bloody Mary Morning reunion following nearly every Big Dictator show. One persistent fan and friend kept the vigil up for so long in person and online that, in many ways, he was the inspiration for getting the band back together for a one-night-only reunion show at Bombay. Once the band got back into the practice space, that show snowballed into another appearance at an anniversary for the band’s old watering hole Cronie’s, and also a set at the first SRO benefit. After those shows, the calls for gigs kept coming in, and just like that Bloody Mary Morning was once again a fully functioning band with a few new songs to boot.
Times, trends and technology be damned, the men of Bloody Mary Morning decided to keep it real and record a proper full-length record. Day jobs and families didn’t afford the band the ability to block off a few weeks to hunker down in a studio, so with time spent recording here and there over the course of a few months, Turner made a bold decision and took a two-week vacation from work to finish the record. Working in his barn-studio, he spent mornings and afternoons tracking and mixing as other members stopped by to track. The result is the tremendous effort That Girl, a record that harks back to the ’90s when being a rock band that could sing and play with no gimmicks wasn’t such a crime. Best of all, though, the band members have grown as songwriters, and energetic sing-along tracks such as “I’m Running,” “Here’s to Honor” and the title track, “That Girl,” are hands-down the best songs the band has ever penned. The record is reminiscent of a time when a host of melodic rock bands like The Refreshments, Fastball, Big Head Todd and the Monsters, the Gin Blossoms, Everclear, Toad the Wet Sprocket and Cracker were all welcomed on the radio. Bloody Mary Morning has put together a collection of songs that are meant to be rocked out to at a bar, listened to on a road trip or just played as you zone out on a summer’s day, reminiscing about a simpler, more rocking time in American music.
Still Bloody After All These Years
The current incarnation of Bloody Mary Morning consists of Turner on bass, his brother Chad on lead vocals, Ryan Denger on guitars and Ray Stoyanoff on drums. That Girl released just two weeks ago and the band is already working on new material and eyeing another release in the near future. While it’s still far too early to see what new doors might be opened by the latest record, whether it will bring new fans to the table via the Internet (a tool that barely existed during BMM’s first incarnation) or just keep the old ones happy, Turner, who has seen the best and worst of what the local scene has had to offer, remains positive and almost Zen-like about the future. “After all these years, I think it boils down to the fact that we’re all musicians,” he says. “I’m a music fanatic. I go to a ton of shows, buy records and read liner notes, pay attention to see who produced it and what studio was used — all that crazy stuff that some people could care less about. I could be building cars, riding motorcycles, playing sports. I have other interests of course, but music — that’s my thing. It’s what we’ve been doing for a long time. I love it, the other guys in the band love it and, hey, you gotta do what you love.”
Bloody Mary Morning will appear at Bombay Bar for the venue’s pre-fourth of July party on Thursday, July 3. That Girl is available on iTunes and every online music retailer. For more information, visit www.bloodymarymorning.com.