Interview with Land of Blood and Sunshine

Interview with Land of Blood and Sunshine

Land of Blood and Sunshine is a central Iowa based rock band whose genre is hard to label. Sharing elements of punk and indie rock and some of the more tribal corners of world music, their sound can often range from layers of sonic aggression to psychedelic experimentation, much the same way the band name implies. The band has been featured on IPR’s Studio One and has played the stages of Des Moines’ 80/35 Music Festival and Iowa City’s Mission Creek Festival.

The band will be releasing their new full-length album, “Lady and the Trance”, will be released February 12 at The Basement. The show begins at 9 PM.

Let’s get started with your recent show at the Orpheum Theater Center in Marshalltown. What was that experience like? Do you often play shows in your hometown? What made this particular experience memorable? 

Playing in the Orpheum Theater was really quite a surreal experience.  I grew up in Marshalltown so this was the same building I saw Goonies, Stand By Me, and Gremlins, so it was pretty nostalgic for me.  They designed a room specifically for performances called The Black Box.  They have had many interesting acts come through and share their talent but band performances are a new step they are taking.  We are very happy to be a part of this new beginning and hope that it flourishes from here.  We don’t have a lot of venues here in Marshalltown so we’ve had to be creative in finding locations to play.  The Orpheum is a beautiful building lush with history and I couldn’t be more happy to see it cater to more local, regional, and national musical acts.

Tell us about the new record Lady and the Trance. What was it like working with Bob Herington and Cartouche Records for this release?

I think “Lady and the Trance” is our most encompassing effort to date.  You can hear elements of all of our prior records, and we, as song writers, have developed a stronger vision and flow.  Not only do the individual songs have life, but when played through, the entire album has a life.  It’s an album full of darkness and light, with an emphasis on hope and strength.

Bob at Cartouche Records is the real deal.  Incredibly professional and supportive.  He tirelessly does everything he can to accommodate artists on his label.  Even more impressive is how he views and contributes to his community.  The Quad Cities are full of amazing artists, musicians, and vendors.  Bob has helped many of them pursue what they love to do.  He accomplishes so much by harnessing artist’s skills and having them collaborate on something that may have never happened before, resulting in a group of positive people building strong relationships with each other.  That’s community building right there.

“The Gardeners” music video was a great visual for that track, do you have any other music videos planned for this album? 

Jon Burns of the Quad Cities made the animation using my work.  It was so amazing to see my drawing move and come alive.  I can’t thank him enough.  We do have plans of releasing a video for “Cat Feathers” in the near future.  Our guitarist Bo, the guy behind Transpiritus, an Audio/Visual company, is super talented in planning, executing, and editing videos for bands and we are incredibly fortunate to have him in our midst.

One thing that has always appealed to me about Land of Blood and Sunshine’s music is that it seems to be independent from any sort of label or genre. You all have truly crafted your own sound. What do you attribute the band’s sonic style to? 

I said jokingly in another interview that we sound like a combination of Roy Orbison and Black Sabbath, but really that seems about accurate.  Joel (Downs) and I come from a punk rock background so we’ve always had a do it yourself mentality. We also listen to and appreciate a lot of different genres of music.  From the Beach Boys to Bathory.  From Townes Van Zant to Jesus and Mary Chain.

But I think another big character in this is our environment.  When we started LOBAS, it was just a recording project where we experimented with different sounds, instrumentation, and dynamics.  We found it to be very refreshing and fulfilling.  We gradually merged our minds into creating music that hasn’t really been played around here, as if from another land.  That’s where our name came from.  We wanted to disconnect from everything else and relocate to LOBAS every time we wrote/recorded/performed.

There also seems to be a strong connection between your personal visual art and Land of Blood and Sunshine’s music. Is this something that has always happened for you? Have both mediums inspired each other over the course of time? 

Joel has always been receptive to my work.  From the beginning he wanted to use some of my most unusual compositions to visually express LOBAS.  So right from the beginning my art branded LOBAS and vice versa.  The songs are full of stories or glimpses into another world.  That happens to be my favorite thing to create so yes they go hand-in-hand into the sunset.


Land of Blood and Sunshine has created its own universe complete with reoccurring characters and themes. From your album covers to your song titles and your music videos to your live performances, everything carries this electric mysticism. How has this developed since Land of Blood and Sunshine has been a band? 

This band has always been about stepping out of one reality and into another.  The more experience you have in the other reality, the more meaning you can carve out.  It’s not all about meaning though.  It’s more about being there and taking in the experience.

The older I get the more I realize how unbelievably insane life is.  I have developed a new awareness and appreciation from this band.  My artwork and LOBAS music, I believe, is an attempt for me to convey this appreciation.

What is on the horizon for Land of Blood and Sunshine? Do you have anything planned for this year you’d care to share? 

We have a show in the Kum n Go Theater on April 3 with a very interesting band called Hanggai.  They mix the sound of their native country, Mongolia, with punk rock aggression.  I’m incredibly excited to play at this show.

We’ve also been invited back to play the Midwest Music Fest which is always an amazing time.  This show will be in LaCrosse Wisconsin on April 16.

We already have enough demos for a new full length so we’ll be doing a lot of recording this year.  We also have several ideas for more videos and possibly a short film.  There are other bands that make up Land of Blood and Sunshine including Done Wonders and Glass Ox.  Both groups will be putting out new records this year, as well as playing many shows.  Be sure to check them out. dsm

February 12
9 PM
The Basement
All Ages

Land of Blood and Sunshine (Record Release)
Brooks Strause
Ben Driscoll

More information available from the Des Moines Social Club website.

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