Blues Traveler’s new Blow Up The Moon album filled with guest collaborations
”We just wrapped up recording the new album,” reads a message from Blues Traveler on the band’s PledgeMusic.com page. “We’re chomping at the bit to let you in on it as it came out great, and we got to collaborate with some incredible artists, like Thompson Square, Plain White T’s, 3OH!3, Hanson, Jewel, Secondhand Serenade, Dirty Heads and Rome Ramirez (Sublime), JC Chasez (NSYNC), Bowling for Soup, New Hollow and Thomas Ian Nicholas.” The latest project is Blow Up The Moon, which is now available on indie label Loud & Proud Records. The band adds, “We also filmed the whole thing … Thank you for your support over the past 27 years!”
Blues Traveler is best known for its aptly titled fourth studio album, Four, which appeared in September 1994. The album yielded the breakthrough monster hit ‘Run-Around,’ peaking at No. 8 on the Billboard Hot 100 and No. 4 on Billboard’s Adult Contemporary chart. The song also went on to win the 1996 Grammy Award for Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group, and Four has gone six-times platinum to date.
Blow Up The Moon marks the band’s 20th anniversary since Blues Traveler broke out in 1995. The 14-song repertoire represents country, pop, reggae, and hip hop. The diverse mix of guest artists helped Blues Traveler expand its musical palette, while “holding on to its foundation presenting innovative rock n roll.” The new album opens with ‘Hurricane Blues’ and the title track, both featuring 3OH!3 and the latter including JC Chasez of ‘NSync. Dirty Heads and Rome Ramirez appear on ‘Castaway’ and ‘Vagabond Blues,’ and Hanson joins the band for ‘Top of the World.’
Plain White T’s show up on the track ‘Nikkia's Prom,’ and country duo Thompson Square help out on ‘Matador’ and ‘I Can Still Feel You.’ SoCal rock band Secondhand Serenade is the guest on ‘The Darkness We All Need,’ rock trio New Hollow appears on ‘Jackie's Baby,’ and award-winning country-folk artist Jewel contributes vocals for ‘Hearts Are Still Awake.’ Pop-punk band Bowling for Soup highlights ‘I Know Right’ and ‘Right Here Waiting For You,’ and Blow Up The Moon closes with ‘All The Way’ featuring actor-singer Thomas Ian Nicholas.
“We were desperate to find some kind of way to change out functionality,” Popper tells Billboard. “My mentor Jono Manson suggested we do collaborations. We worked with professional songwriters [Ron Sexsmith, Carrie Rodriguez] on the last album [2012’s Suzie Cracks the Whip]. This album became an extension of that process of working with people we never worked with before. They appreciate you in ways you can’t appreciate yourself. The band took to it like ducks in water,” he says.
Blues Traveler once kept up an average touring pace of 250 shows per year, entertaining some 30 million fans in performing 6,000 live shows and selling more than 13 million records. Upcoming appearances include concerts in Annapolis, Md. (May 12), Charleston, W.Va. (May 15), Englewood, N.J. (May 17), Leesburg, Va. (May 19), Ridgefield, Conn. (May 22), Wilkes Barre, Pa. (May 23), and Anchorage, Alaska (May 30). Billboard reports the band also plans to join 311 on July 9 at an outdoor venue near Clarkston, Mich., in a one-off revival of the Horizons of the Rock Developing Everywhere (HORDE) tour that was originated by Blues Traveler in the early ‘90s.
Watch Blues Traveler and Hanson perform the track ‘Top of the World,’ one of the featured collaborations on Blow Up The Moon.
As A Matter of Fact…
* Blues Traveler is a New York-based, blues-rock quartet that was formed in 1988 by singer-harmonica player John Popper, guitarist Chan Kinchla, bassist Bobby Sheehan, and drummer Brendan Hill. The band moved from the New Jersey suburbs to New York City in the late 1980s.
* The band shared bills with groups including Spin Doctors and Phish, founded the HORDE festival, and pioneered the subsequent “neo-hippie jam music” that revived the extended jamming style of classic rock artists such as the Grateful Dead and Led Zeppelin.
* The late Bill Graham—the renowned promoter who booked legendary rock acts in his Fillmore and Winterland Arena venues—initially represented Blues Traveler and helped the band land a deal with A&M Records.
* The group’s 1990 self-titled debut went gold, but Blues Traveler’s rise was temporarily halted in 1992 when Popper was involved in a near-fatal motorcycle accident. He was forced to tour for the next two years in a wheelchair.
* Blues Traveler's fourth album, aptly titled Four, appeared in September 1994 and yielded the breakthrough hits ‘Run-Around’ and ‘Hook.’ ‘Run-Around’ won the 1996 Grammy Award for Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group, and after spending nearly a year on the album charts, Four reached quintuple platinum sales status.
* Blues Traveler released two live sets in 1996 (Live from the Fall) and 1997 (Straight on Till Morning). In 1999, Popper released his debut solo album, Zygote, and the band was rocked by the news that 31-year-old bassist Bobby Sheehan was found dead in his New Orleans home.
* A newly charged Blues Traveler began the new century with sixth record Bridge (2001), followed by the live set What You and I Have Been Through. Additional studio output during the period included Truth Be Told (2003), Bastardos! (2005), the all-acoustic covers album Cover Yourself (2007), and North Hollywood Shootout (2008).