Alex Blue, frontman for L.A. punk band Normandie Blue, got his start in music by performing for his family. The happiness in their eyes as they saw a young Alex sing Spanish classics and take requests, was enough to get him hooked on performing.
At 12 years old he began writing and playing his own music. By age 15, Alex left home with the hopes and dreams of dedicating himself to his newly found passion. But growing up in the streets of L.A. was not easy. It forced him to be tough and to survive no matter how bad the situation. That experience would be immortalized in “Hard to forgive”, one of the singles from Normandie Blue’s debut album, “It Is What It Is”, in which the writer describes being deeply angry, sad and humbled at a very young age.
The album was released earlier this year with the current line up of Roman Gomez (drums), Ito Castillo (bass) and Manny Murders (guitar). Produced by John Avila (Oingo Boingo, Quetzal, Reel Big Fish), the album is a 12-track autobiographical collection of the highs and lows that Alex endured while on his journey to seek release through music.
To secure financing for the album, Alex sold his car and often walked to the studio to record. But it was not until he found his new band members and after a long journey of experiences that he had to live, that Alex is now content with the current status of his band, music and himself.
There were various moments while on his course that Alex grew discouraged with his situation. After a short stint in the Air Force, he worked in aerospace engineering and attended New York University for some time. But music was missing from his life: “[Those days were] miserable, without melody, harmony, rhythm or love,” he recalls, confessing that the time period was the only time in his life when music was not a part of him.
There were also times when, with a previous lineup, things were looking up for Normandi Blue and the band was even able to get some recording and touring done. But that would soon come to an end with the dissolution of the band. The decision was made by Alex and was, according to him, caused by the lack of commitment from the other members.
But perhaps one of the most life-changing experiencing for the artist came when he was asked by Cesar Cejas of the psychobilly
band Calavera to join the band as rhythm guitarist. “It gave me the confidence to play in front of a mass audience,” said Alex. But the fans, touring, attention and rock-star lifestyle that came with being part of one of the most high-profile bands in the punk rock music community, would also take its toll. “That was a blessing and a curse,” he confessed. “When I wasn’t on stage I didn’t know how to turn off the on-stage persona. I became a bit of an arrogant jerk. I’ll never be that way again.”
While with Calavera, Alex also became a negative reflection of himself, often feeling caged and with no creative outlet. It was then that he began a downward spiral filled with drugs, alcohol and depression.
But every bit of that good and bad is something that Alex would not give in return. His experiences have led him on a journey of self-realization and prompted lyrics that were written by his own pain and unknowing of what’s to come. “I knew I was going to get a lot of flak for writing this way,” he says. “That’s why when people ask what the album is about or what style of music it is I just tell them ‘it is what it is’”.
“It Is What It Is” is available at Amazon.com, CD Baby and iTunes.