Voodoo Bloo are a New Zealand-based alternative rock band that we stumbled upon towards the end of last year. It was November, and they’d just released ‘Skin’, a thumping track that is still on my “On Repeat” playlist today. Having recently returned with another cracking tune called ‘Small’, we wanted to get to know the band a little better, and were thrilled when frontman Rory McDonald agreed to be interviewed by us. Chatting about what the band’s new songs mean to him, the money they’ve raised for mental health awareness, and the band’s mutual love for movies and films, please welcome Rory McDonald of Voodoo Bloo.
Hello and welcome Rory! Long time no see! We’re so stoked to reintroduce you to our ever-growing audience. Before we get down to business, could you tell us a bit more about the origins of the band, and what brought the four of you together?
It’s a long history to go through, but the short version is that I started recording material after an old band dissolved. Once it came time to do some live shows, I recruited some really cool people to join in on the action and get a live band version of Voodoo Bloo ready to take on anything!
I first discovered your music when I heard ‘Skin’ at the end of last year and I was instantly hooked! Just an absolute banger of a tune! I’ve read you describe ‘Skin’ as being about “the struggles of letting go of yourself, and slowly forming into a new being”. Can you expand on this a bit?
Since ‘Skin’ and ‘Small’ are part of a concept album being released in July, it’s a bit hard to expand on it without going into the full ideology of the album. But it really is sort of the butterfly coming out of its cocoon moment on the record. It’s all about my change into a new human being and letting go of everything that I did not wish to be going into my adult years with.
I love the accompanying music video. What was the inspiration behind the concept? Also, with over 10,000 views on YouTube, how does it feel to see one of your songs doing so well and know it’s being heard and seen by so many people?
The video really spawned out of an old member’s head, but the general grasp I got of it is that I was a Hannibal Lecter sort of figure, just so absolutely content with talking to people about taking their skin, a totally different take on the song to what I had, but I find it very funny and it works so well.
The reception of ‘Skin’ was awesome. It’s really quite surreal to see all these people coming out of the woodworks to say that they like what they’re hearing. Hopefully, it continues to grow!Rory McDonald
Your brand new single ‘Small’ goes in quite a different musical direction than most of your previous releases. I have to say though…I’m falling pretty hard for the track. Do you remember what sparked the idea for the song?
It was always about my struggles of growing up too quickly and trying to remind myself that I can still act my own age. I think what really kicked off the inspiration was another song on the album which has not been released yet, but that song goes into detail about everything I wished for myself in the future. I thought it also made sense to talk to myself about my past, and why it’s important to look back, but not dwell on the things that have been.
Staying with ‘Small’, I know that it was produced by Greg Haver (Manic Street Preachers) and Scott Seabright (Mumford & Sons). Those are some pretty heavyweight industry producers. How did that all come about?
You’d have to ask our manager about that one, but I’m so glad it happened! They’re absolute powerhouses and I already loved their work before even working with them – they’re honestly just the best to work with. We still sit and mope around at practice wishing we were still in the studio with them!
I know that your sound is influenced by a wide variety of acts. And you’ve previously mentioned being inspired by bands like Arctic Monkeys, Radiohead, Deftones, and King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard. But I’m interested to know what you grew up listening to? Do you remember the first song or album that you fell in love with?
I’ve said this many a time in interviews, but my first memory of life was watching ‘American Idiot’ by Green Day on MTV in England, so it’s gotta be that for sure.
In terms of an album I fell in love with from an early age, nothing comes close to The Black Parade by My Chemical Romance.Rory McDonald
My parents showed it to me very early on, and even today it’s in my top 2 albums of all time. It’s great from front to back, and you can definitely see where my love of concept albums comes from here!
With every artist and band thankfully being different, we’re always fascinated to hear about their different creative processes, and how they turn a simple idea into a finished song. What does your creative process look like?
All the material is first written by me. For the first album, it was just the guys following along with what I wrote for them, and that was that. However, for this second album, I would bring in a whole song, and we’d usually just spend a couple of hours ripping apart what I’d done and glueing it back together again in any fashion we see fit. It’s definitely a much more collaborative space than it used to be, and the guys I work with definitely elevate the material to a level I thought was once impossible.
What would you put down as the band’s biggest achievement to date?
That will be, and I imagine it will be for some time, raising over 10K for the mental health charity Lifeline. It was and still is a crucial part of the Voodoo Bloo message. To be kind to one another and to always take out time for yourself when feeling down, and to know we put our all into helping those in need. It’s really one of my favourite things we’ve ever done.
I’m a sucker for having to know the origins of a band’s name. I just can’t help myself! How exactly did the name come about?
It’s the cringiest thing…I wrote down something at a friend’s house one day because I saw a household item that said “Voodoo Bloo” on it and thought it sounded really cool. This was about a year before Voodoo Bloo came about though, and when I finally decided on the name, I completely forgot its origin, until he got in touch after our first album came out, asking me “why the hell did you name your band after a vape juice?” I regret my decisions, but it still sounds cool, so meh.
Are there any other interests that tie you and your bandmates together? Walk us through a non-music day in the life of Voodoo Bloo.
We’re all huge movie buffs. Half of us are even in Film courses at Uni, so it’s something that we find just as integral as music in our personal creative muses. David Lynch is a big recurring theme for us at the moment, as well as Gaspar Noe, and even sometimes Lars Von Trier for some reason. None of us really like him or his work, but he still comes up a lot.
OK, if you could, as a band, ‘steal’ one song in the world and claim it as your own, what would it be and why?
‘Life on Mars?’ by David Bowie. Do I really need to explain why though?
In a similar vein to the question above, if you were allowed to collaborate with any musician or band, who would you choose and why?
Mr. Bungle has been my biggest influence since I was 14 and started writing music, but since they aren’t really around anymore, Black Midi is definitely the one I’d throw into the ring.
The Brixton scene in the UK is crazy at the moment, and all of us want in on a lil bit of that chaos.Rory McDonald
Rory, it’s been an absolute pleasure! I know that Voodoo Bloo have a brand new full-length album scheduled for release later this year. Do you have any type of official date in mind for the release? And on a broader scale, what do you hope for when it comes to your long-term musical future?
I couldn’t give you the specifics right now, but it’s gonna be early to mid-July for sure. As for our plans – you might just have to wait and see. But this will not be the only musical endeavour from us this year, nor will we just be playing shows in New Zealand.
We added Voodoo Bloo’s single ‘Small’ to the playlist of all the artists we interviewed so far.
Don’t be shy to give it a listen!