Sam Chintha, Jake Reid, Kim Reid, Clark Stacy, Matt Welch
Alcian Blue was a shoegaze and new wave-influenced band operating out of the Washington, DC suburb of Takoma Park from 1998 to 2006. They were known for their extremely loud wall of sound live aesthetic coupled with the use of disorienting video projections.
The band initially consisted of guitarists Sam Chintha and Jake Reid, drummer Clark Stacy, and bassist Matt Welch. Recording and self-releasing the full-length album Slow Colorless Stare (2001) and several EPs, they honed their characteristic sound by relentlessly experimenting with DIY recording techniques and effect boxes. They toured extensively with fellow East Coast shoegaze bands such as A Place to Bury Strangers, Skywave and the Emerald Down.
In April 2004, Stacy left the band to join the Air Force. The band decided to continue, using drum machines and adding Reid’s future wife Kim Dodd on synthesizers and extra guitar. This sudden change in the group dynamic resulted in a new sound featuring synths and drum machine more prominently, as heard on their eponymous second album, released in July 2006 by Elephant Stone Records. The band toured extensively with the new lineup prior to the release of the record and developed a cult regional and worldwide fanbase.
The band decided to part ways in September 2006 to pursue new projects and new sounds. In 2007, they posthumously released an EP, Years Too Late, consisting of songs culled from older recordings.
Notes From Jake Reid
Matt and I grew up together and we met Sam and Clark in high school playing in different bands along the way. We started performing in college as Wintermute and would play shows at the Crayon Box house in Lewisdale MD. Once we learned there was an electronic band in Texas called Wintermute who had a few releases under their belt, we felt obligated to change the name. Sam was studying bio chemistry and came up with the idea to call the band Alcian Blue and the label Safranin Sound.
We started booking gigs as we could in the DC area, notably the Galaxy Hut in Arlington VA and the now defunct Now! Music & Fashion were early places who helped us get our name out. We had enough songs to record an album and borrowed equipment from WMUC and recorded at Clark’s house in Takoma Park before doing mixes and overdubs at WMUC. We recorded to an 8-track 1/4″ tape and then mixed that into ADAT and did overdubs.
The record we put out was Slow Colorless Stare.
The recording to the release of Slow Colorless Stare was around the time we first met Skywave from Fredericksburg VA. That’s when we realized there were some other bands doing things similar to our interests in genre (and decibels at shows). This made it a bit easier to team up to book shows and find other like-minded groups.
Sam met Skywave while engineering at WMUC 88.1 (University of MD radio). We first played with Skywave at Joe’s Movement Emporium, put on by the people who had done the Crayon Box house shows.
Angelica Take Me Down was the follow-up single to Slow Colorless Stare while we were recording the Translucent EP. It worked out because a hard drive failure sent us back months where we had to re-record about 2 1/2 songs entirely over. We burned an intial 50 CDRs with a spraypainted sleeve to have ready for a Galaxy Hut show with The Rosebuds who had recently signed to Merge Records.
Translucent was followed by Silvers Sleep Walk, another single from Translucent with a slightly different mix, two live songs, and a cover of Slowdive‘s unreleased “Joy.” Most of these recordings were done at WMUC with the ADAT except Joy which was one of the first things we did with testing our own recording setup.
We began working on the Fall Behind EP after this which included a cover of The Cure’s A Strange Day. We were also starting to play all of the songs that would become Years Too Late out at shows to tighten them up for another album. The other important aspect about Fall Behind and Years Too Late was Sam and Matt had been working at setting up our own DIY studio in our practice space and those EPs were a result of that effort. We no longer needed to lug tons of gear to WMUC or borrow gear when it was available. There was still a learning curve to be had which I think you can trace between all of our output but especially Fall Behind, Alcian Blue, and Years Too Late.
Clark decided to leave the band and head into the Air Force around the time I had met Kim and we had started working on music together. She joined the band when Clark left and we decided to go the more 80’s drum machine route as we were all into New Order and the Cocteau Twins. We kept a simple rig of 2 PA speakers, a massive power amp, and a dual tape deck that had dubs of the drums and sometimes samples on the set. It was no Cocteaus reel to reel but more sturdy and cassette tape sounded good cranked out.
The new line-up worked on a bunch of new songs which is the Self Titled album on Elephant Stone Records. We continued touring and playing as much as possible while finishing the record up. By the time the record came out we had sort of just run our course as a band and I think we all knew it at the time. We eventually finished mixing and coordinating the Years Too Late EP and that was the last thing we released. By this point Kim and I were helping other bands put out records via Safranin Sound and we had our own band Screen Vinyl Image. Sam was doing Vacuole Eyes, mixing live bands, and playing in a number of other projects like Space Tigers.
That’s a loose timeline with a few important details about the band. It would be impossible to thank all the people who supported us from buying the records to coming to the shows to booking us with some truly phenomenal bands.