photo by John McGarity and Tiffany Walling McGarity

photo by John McGarity and Tiffany Walling McGarity

There’s a complex mythology behind Not Blood Paint.

Well, mythologies. Plural.

You’ll hear about New Suit Methodology, The Big Egg, The Imposters, “Working Harder Together” and the Sword of the Goldsmith…

It’s worth a deep dive. 

Conventionally, Not Blood Paint is a theatrically vivid—and sonically intense—four-piece from Bushwick, formed in 2008 by guitarists George Frye and Joe Stratton, bassist Mark Jaynes and drummer Seth Miller. 

Musically, it’s a group impossible to pigeonhole, far removed from traditional verse-chorus-verse structures. The songs manifest as detailed stories that worm into the minds of always-shifting narrators. At different times, you’ll think Zappa, Ween, Primus, Gang of Four, Devo, early Genesis, Tool, Dirty Projectors. (The band itself would proffer Of Montreal. “That group inspired us in the beginning. We’d go dress up and dance our asses off when we saw them live.”)

Given their influences, it’s little surprise the band members—who all hail from the same school in Michigan—share a passion for the theatrical. From early on, Not Blood Paint shows have been purposely and aggressively different, often constructed for the venue and audience on hand. 

Costumes abound. Beguiling rituals and themes take hold--one night you may witness, say, the Renaissance-type flair of “The Aristocrats.” Another, “hypnotic owls,” or “glam rock scientists” or maybe something akin to an alien prison break. This cornucopia of on-stage choreography, dialog and make-up—connected to some fantastically elaborate songs—often extends off-stage, where whole belief systems spring up and evolve, while characters take on lives of their own—often over years of time.

Instead of being about a band, a record and a show, Not Blood Paint becomes a fusing of mythology and the real world. Ever shifting, ever changing. 

But all for one important end goal: Manifesting the Goldsmith. 

Confused? We’ll get there.

Those who do understand are rather ... ardent followers (watch for fans in matching costumes). Others are simply admirers. “Band most likely to start a cult,” said FreeWilliamsburg. “Not Blood Paint defies lineage…they are as much a strategy as they are a band,” chimed Brooklyn Based.

Five albums in, Not Blood Paint has now evolved again. The band’s new record Believing is Believing is the culmination, as they say, “of eight years working toward the marriage of our recorded songs with the exultant energy of our live show.” 

It’s an experience unto itself. As well as a lyrical, musical and spiritual exploration, as the title suggests (you’ll hear the word “believe” in a lot of the tracks). Harmonies abound, most noticeably in first single “I Am An Angel” and sprawling album closer “Imbalance.” A track like “Play Nice” can somehow feel both grimy and lounge-y, while psych rave-up “Neighbor” fits comfortably next to the moodier, almost Queen-like “Borderline” and the slow groove of “The French Song.” 

Now, seeing the songs from Believing is Believing live isn’t necessary to appreciate them...but it will certainly bolster the experience. Here, in the concert setting, even the novice fan will begin to understand the band’s larger themes. 

Like “Manifesting the Goldsmith.”

“To speak of the Goldsmith is only to speak of what the Goldsmith is not,” says the band, perhaps in riddle. “As for Manifesting the Goldsmith — our shows are about bringing together people in a space and breaking it down. Creating an environment where multiple people in a lawless state are in a positive and creative space with no hierarchy. Where rules are created on the spot, unspoken. A temporary tiny society where anything is possible. And that’s our goal: to facilitate that dynamic.”

Finally, a band you can believe in.