"Life changes quickly," Joan Didion once wrote. “Life changes in an instant. You sit down to eat and life as you know it is over.”
In Spring 2020, Blonde Redhead vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Kazu Makino stumbled across this passage from Didion's 2005 memoir, The Year of Magical Thinking, in which the author reflects on the harrowing experience of witnessing the sudden death of her husband at the dinner table. In the deep uncertainty of those early months of the pandemic, Makino thought of her own parents far away in Japan, the then-lost ritual of family dinners, and the heavy, ever-present feeling that life was changing for everyone from can change us in an instant.
In the two songs "Sit Down for Dinner Pt I" and "Sit Down for Dinner Pt II" Makino tells with clear language and glowing melodies about these feelings, which gave the title to Blonde Redhead's tenth album. "It's kind of about death, but the music is so alive and groovy," says Makino. However, for the Italian members of Blonde Redhead, Milan-born twin brothers Amedeo Pace (singer/multi-instrumentalist) and Simone Pace (drummer), the title »Sit Down for Dinner« has a different meaning. "Culturally, dinner is very important to us," Simone says of the non-negotiable family ritual. “It's a moment for us to sit down and have time for each other. That's how we grew up. I know a lot of people eat and run, eat in front of the TV or don't care too much - and that's okay - but it's really important to us.' For Blonde Redhead as a band, dinner has long been a thing sacred ritual; when they're touring or rehearsing, they always eat together, no matter what.
Thanks to this sense of enduring togetherness, the haunting, meticulously crafted "Sit Down for Dinner" is a testament to the unique internal logic Blonde Redhead have honed over their three-decade existence. Formed in New York's indie underground in 1993, Blonde Redhead quickly found a spot on Sonic Youth drummer Steve Shelley's Smells Like label before releasing beloved records on Touch & Go and 4AD that spanned the gamut from edgy indie rock to cosmopolitan Art-Pop strained. The trio might have been the quintessence of the '90s if it hadn't been for a constant push on, evolving and never being limited to any era other than the present.
On "Sit Down for Dinner," the understated yet haunting melodies that charge each song provide a foil for the lyrics about the inevitable struggles of adulthood: the failure to communicate in lasting relationships, the questions of where to turn, the holding on to his dreams. Immaculately structured, imbued with sensitivity, clarity and determination, the album was ultimately written and recorded over a five-year period spanning New York City, upstate, Milan and Tuscany. Blonde Redhead's persistence as they release Sit Down for Dinner in their 30th year has come in part from a realization that the making process of the record should be fun. "I usually struggle and it's painful for me to write music, but I didn't suffer that much on this record," says Makino. »I wanted to put my foot down and say: We can have a good time together. The record sounds quite optimistic.« Amedeo adds: »We really relate to each other. We depend on each other's inspiration. Kazu completes what I start; Simone completes both with rhythm.«
Perhaps this adds another level to the title Sit Down for Dinner, for the music is a delight, with the ease of a new conversation among trusted friends. Crucial to this equation is Blonde Redhead's innate harmonic sensibility, which Makino describes as the heart of the band.