Formerly known as Astaire (2002), they where forced to change the band's name per request of the Fred Astaire estate back in 2005: “We were driving around with friends and someone said ‘I smell a bonfire,’” Erica recalls when asked about the band's new name. “We thought they said ‘Blondfire,’ and at first we kind of jokingly said it should be our name – but it stuck. We liked the fact that it was masculine and feminine at the same time. It represented who we are in a cool way.”
Siblings Bruce and Erica Driscoll are not strangers to music: Born and raised in Grand Rapids, Michigan, to an American father —who plays guitar— and a Brazilian mother —who is a classically trained pianist— formed a band with her older sister Monica and eschewed classes to tour nationally when both where in high school.
That push-pull of elemental forces is fundamental to the band’s sound, which marries Driscoll’s winsome, melancholy vocals to massive melodies, jagged shards of guitar, and propulsive beats. You might think of any number of strong, female-lead dream pop heroines from the golden era of indie rock (The Cardigans, Ivy) and you wouldn’t be wrong, but Blondfire is a modern and unique musical hybrid. On their Modern Art/Warner Bros. Records debut, Young Heart, Driscoll offers infectious pop tunes with real punch.
The formula has resonated strongly with listeners and helped Blondfire build a loyal following. They made their name in 2008 with the indie release My Someday and a series of residencies in their adopted home of Los Angeles. Local radio stations KROQ, KCSN, 98.7, and KCRW provided early support and helped them become the first unsigned act to hit the No. 1 spot on the iTunes Alternative chart. They also became one of those extremely rare, unsigned artists to be added to the Sirius Alt Nation playlist. This feat was largely due to the strength of the evocative, bouncy, and irresistible “Where The Kids Are” and its eccentric, charming, and panda-filled (yes, panda-filled) video. “I submitted that song to a few blogs and it just took off online,” Driscoll marvels. “According to Hype Machine, we became the number one most talked-about band on the internet!” “Where The Kids Are” is now the lead single on Young Heart. Their music has also been heard in the films Besties and Get a Job; on TV via ESPN’s Australian Open Tennis, The Client List, MTV’s Awkward and The Collection, and in an ad for Ecco shoes.
While Blondfire has come into its own in Los Angeles, with Erica as the outstanding front woman, there’s still an element of their Brazilian-American childhood in the mix. “You can hear it in the way we use melodies,” she says, “and in the way that Bruce likes to put all kinds of variations into his beats.” Bruce adds that he leans toward certain chords that lend a melancholy feel one could trace back to Antonio Carlos Jobim and other Brazilian songwriters. “It’s not obvious,” Bruce says, “but it’s in there.” And just part of the one-of-a-kind recipe that makes Blondfire sound like no one else.