Bleeder – New Music

Alternative rock trio Bleeder released the music video for their debut single “If You” in the spring of 2017. The black and white video shows aspects of the writing and recording process while the band plays against white walls. Bleeder was started in 2014 as a recording project by Shelby Smoak in Linden, VA. A long-time musician from the Chapel Hill indie rock scene, Shelby Smoak has been involved with numerous music projects for the past 15 years. The Bleeder project was born from his success as an author.In 2013, Michigan State University Press published Shelby Smoak’s memoir, Bleeder: A Memoir, which garnered Smoak a book tour along the East Coast; press reviews including The Minneapolis Review and Glamour; radio and TV appearances, including the Bob Edwards Show on NPR; and several awards, such as a National Library of America Book of the Year award. This work, which laid bare the raw struggle of living with hemophilia and HIV, is now continued through Smoak’s music.

Bleeder reflects Smoak’s desire to put his struggles into songs. The moody and cathartic aesthetic that Bleeder: A Memoir reflected needed to be expressed in a way that transcended the abilities of prose. This raw emotion is embodied throughout Bleeder’s debut self-titled album. To make the project a reality, Smoak recruited the talents of local musicians Chuck Campbell (drummer for Charlie Post and Ugly) and Drew Speziale (frontman of Circle Takes the Square). Doubling as both talented musicians and long-time friends of Smoak, the musical chemistry was palpable from the band’s first practice together, and with that, Bleeder was born.

Bleeder documents the sway of emotion, the brooding moments of despair, the fleeting moments of happiness. Lyrically, Smoak channeled the raw and unembellished reality of life; sonically, he strove to capture feeling. Bleeder is memoir music. As with his prose, these songs are about dying to live: the fight, the pain, the heartache, the melancholy, the joy. To capture these moments, Smoak opted to do all the recording in his basement, with Al Weatherhead (Sparklehorse, Camper van Beethoven, The Magnolia Project, Jennifer O’Connor) joining for mixing, and Tom King for mastering.

Lead singer Shelby Smoak states that: “‘If You’ is the first video I have ever shot or edited. I had asked filmmaker friends to do this but unable to gain firm commitments decided to continue the DIY that began Bleeder, and thus ensued the learning curve of writing, shooting, and editing a video. My love for the Italian films of Fellini and Antonioni informed my choice of a b+w aesthetic as well as my channeling their penchant for long, still shots. The rest was just trying to capture the band spirit, the environment we recorded in, and then, the writing whose tentacles reach into everything I do.”