Kansas City native Jason “Captain Blackie” Blackmore has been playing guitar and singing in San Diego for years now. However, before the future Turf Club doorman began blowing the roof off of local venues with projects such as Sirhan Sirhan, Rats Eyes, and Otro, Blackmore was fronting the band Molly McGuire who, a staple of the mid-1990s Kansas City sound.
The band came through San Diego several times, including one lonely night at the Casbah. “It was the night of the [San Diego] Music Awards…we played for the doorman and the bartender. I just remember really digging the vibe and the palm trees. And Off the Record. I remember us going to Off the Record on 5th the first time we toured through San Diego. [We] bought a beer at the Greek place next door, and watched a guy take a piss on the sidewalk in broad daylight, right in front of the window of the restaurant. That, and the fact that Tanner and Pitchfork are from here, that’s why I moved here.”
Molly McGuire disbanded in 1998, not long after the release of their second full-length album Lime (Epic Records, 1996, produced by Failure mastermind Ken Andrews). The breakup was said to be due to conflicts with the label.
In 2012, with band members spread across San Diego, Los Angeles, Sacramento, and Kansas, Molly McGuire agreed to reunite, to play Middle of the Map Fest (April 5 through 7) in Kansas City. A warmup gig in San Diego happened March 23 at Soda Bar.
“That’s what sparked this whole thing,” says Blackmore. “They said, ‘this may be a long shot, but would Molly McGuire ever consider a reunion?’ I was in, but I didn’t know what everybody else was into. The first person I hit up was [drummer] Jason Gerken in LA. He manages a few bars and barely has a free minute to himself, but he said, ‘fuck it, sounds fun.’”
“So we hit up everybody else and they’re all really into it. These are guys I haven’t jammed with for years, and there’s this really positive vibe. Everybody is more than enthusiastic about it. We are basically those guys at 40 or 45 years old that we used to make fun of who are like, ‘hey, we’re getting the band back together.’”
After tossing around set ideas with guitarist Scott McMillian, the two had the idea of releasing a record with new and unreleased material.
“There was so much material that was never properly recorded and released,” says Blackmore. “4 track demos and studio takes. About ten years ago I compiled a tape of twenty-three songs that were never released, so we’re trying to pick a strong ten from that batch. We’re all on the same page with songs like ‘Monster Capitol,’ ‘Fat Lip,’ ‘The Dryer.’ Songs we feel never got a fair shake.”
Blackmore says the new album title, Cursed, is a nod to Molly McGuire’s past.
“It’s about the whole major label machine that chewed us up and spit us out and pretty much ended Molly McGuire,” says Blackmore. “We started as a band who just wanted to do our thing and travel and have these experiences together and then got thrown into this business world. Now it feels like back when we started. We’re in it for the right reasons. So were trying to find a way to do it, financially. For starters, we don’t live in the same city. It’s a different situation from when we started in 1991.”
In 2012 and into 2013, while playing in White Mule with David Robles (also of the bands Wha? and Marsupials), Blackmore and Robles produced a documentary called Records Collecting Dust.