A Midwest-emo ensemble from St. Louis, Blond Guru is a name you’ll hopefully hear a lot more of in 2023. The five-piece, made up of Noah Gregory (lead vocals and guitar), Sean Buchert (drummer and vocals), Hal Gregory (keys and vocals), Cole Conner (bass) and Josh Hezel (guitar), met at Lindbergh High School and started making music amid the start of the pandemic in 2020. While having band practice via Zoom, the group discovered their unique, alternative grunge sound, reminiscent of bands like Hippo Campus, The Strokes and The Arctic Monkeys.
With inspiration from their high school music classes and unfinished projects, lead vocalist Noah and bassist Cole knew they wanted to take their music a step further—and thankfully, they did. Blond Guru released their first LP, Your Friends, in 2022. This project is full of beautifully isolated vocals, intense instrumentals, perfectly crafted crescendos, and thoughtfully angsty lyrics—it’s something your inner teenager is craving.
Already developing a strong presence in the St. Louis music scene, opening fully packed shows for bands like The Cavves, Waltzer, and Blunt Bangs, the future looks bright for Blond Guru. We sat down with Noah and Cole to learn more about their story, first album, and upcoming projects.
Blond Guru at Off Broadway. All Photos: Sean Rider
Bands Through Town: How did Blond Guru start? Where did you guys meet and what was the inspiration behind starting a band?
NOAH: “Oh, goodness…originally Blond Guru was another band with Hal, Sean, and other members. That band called it quits eventually, but Cole and I started a recording project senior year of high school where we had to record music, and we were like ‘Wait, sh*t, this isn’t actually, like, bad, so let’s try that.’ Cole and I started working together; we pulled Hal in and Josh, who was a good friend throughout high school. We started working on the album, and I had Sean come in, who was in another band [with me] at the time. He did all the drums, Josh played bass, and then COVID happened. We gave up on everything, but still tried to record the rest. From there, it’s been the five of us. We started working together productively in 2020.”
COLE: “Originally, Noah and I had taken a music tech class in high school where we learned to produce and record music. At the time, [Noah] and I were agreeably into bands that were more lo-fi with shoegaze elements, so I wanted him to help me write a couple songs. After we made those two songs, we decided we wanted to keep a project going. Over time, it evolved. It started for fun, but then we both agreed we wanted to be serious about it.”
BTT: How would you describe your sound?
NOAH: “The first record was meant to sound a little within the Midwest emo genre. We tried that, but I don’t think it came out as emo as we wanted it to sound, but it did that lo-fi thing we like. Now, it’s somewhere between garage rock and post rock/punk.”
BTT: What was the process of making your first album?
NOAH: (*laughs*) “Oh, it was a sh*tshow. So, we wrote like two or three songs in that class and released them on SoundCloud, like, ‘Here’s the final product; we’re never gonna do anything with these.’ And that was a lie. We reworked a few of those in the Summer of 2020 to try to make an album…but that really failed. We gave up. It was too hard. Over time, we were all going through stuff, so we were all writing different things and trying to piece them together. Eventually, we had nine songs that fit a similar enough theme. We were stuck at home, so it was hard to interact, bounce ideas off of each other. It was a lot of things we had backlogged, and we were lucky they all kind of went together.”
COLE: “It was challenging, because when we all decided we were serious about it, it was 2020 during COVID, so that made it difficult. But once we could comfortably be around each other and record, we did pretty well, and have stayed consistent.”
BTT: What has your experience in the local music scene been like?
NOAH: “I think we’ve been really fortunate.”
COLE: “Yeah, it’s been very welcoming. A lot of the bands that we’ve played with have been really awesome about inviting us to play shows. We got to play with two bands from Chicago.”
NOAH: “Yeah, The Sinkhole [St. Louis venue], gave us two touring bands to open for, which was cool because we’re a new band drawing 10 people to a show on a Thursday night, but here’s a group from Chicago [with an established fan base], so we got to immediately make new connections that we were hoping to make. We also have friends in different bands that we’ve got to play with a bunch, like Yard Eagle, Non-Euclidean Geometry, Middle Class Fashion, No Antics and The Lizardtones. We’ve [also] played at venues like Off Broadway and Venice Cafe and have upcoming shows at Red Flag and The Duck Room.”
BTT: What influences your music the most? Are there certain themes you’ve focused on?
COLE: “There’s a lot of themes of adolescence, coming into young adulthood, and certain emotions you go through during that time period, in the last record, with a lot of the songs being written in high school. It’s realistic and [talks about] facing things like depression or isolation. We also have quite a few influences in music, and [incorporate] different elements of garage rock, alternative rock, indie.”
NOAH: “Yeah, bands like Interpol. We take indie rock and make it, like, really moody. It’s fun. I think so much of what inspired the first [album] was adolescence and kind of being a sh*thead teen, and thinking, ‘Man, why doesn’t anything work out for me, even though it’s probably my fault?’ But, you don’t want to acknowledge that as a teen. Songs like “Need” were reflective of thinking, ‘Man, I need to get my sh*t together.’ And songs like “It’s Not Me, It’s All You” and “Answer Your Phone” where I’m just being a petty little piece. I think the only reason that happened is because “Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino” by Arctic Monkeys had the piano and I was like, “Okay, well I’m gonna play the piano.”
BTT: What’s your favorite lyric you guys have written?
COLE: “I feel like throughout some of the songs there’s a lot of nice ones. One that stood out to me, it’s kind of dark, but it’s something people can relate to: ‘Why do I fear the reaper if I hold the same power?’It’s really dark, but it’s heartfelt and something a lot of people have felt at some point in their lives. When we play that song, and it’s sung, it’s kind of coasted over, but if you seek it out, there’s a little bit of residence there.”
NOAH: “Cole, that’s the same one I was kind of thinking but didn’t want to bring it up. We’ve all been there. Also, in “Awkward/Detached” I like, ‘Rock bottom has a basement/Pick me off the pavement/If you could have it all, why would you want to change that/If I could have it all, why don’t I chase that.’It’s just the thought of getting worse, but also thinking, “Why am I doing this to myself?”
BTT: Is there a story behind the album cover?
NOAH: (*laughs*) “High School Musical! You gotta get that jump in there! Just kidding. There was a tunnel that I absolutely loved from my ’tween into early teen years of hanging out at Ronnie’s [Cinema in South St. Louis County]. It’s the tunnel in between Ronnie’s and Incredible Pizza. You go in there, and it’s like you’re in a different place. It’s also where we smoked weed for the first time. (*laughs*) I really wanted to shoot [the album cover] there because, that night in particular, the light just would not stay on. It would keep going on and off. So we were just doing as much obnoxious stuff as we could before the light would turn back on, which is the picture that ended up being the album cover. I’m thinking of Elliot Smith and Brand New, who both did the thing where they were jumping out the window, and I just really like album covers with pictures instead of a big title.”
COLE: “I agree with that. Picture albums are always neat because it leaves room for curiosity. I also feel like that tunnel where the picture was taken, for most of us in the band, has sentimental value because we grew up in that area.”
BTT: What does the future of Blond Guru look like? What’s next for you guys?
NOAH: “I think the first album was a good introduction to the band, but the second one is a lot catchier. All the bangers are on there. We want to be known as more than “a sad band,” so we want to get more into the [happier] side of things. We started recording [the second album] recently. Some of it’s leftover stuff from previous bands that we never really got down. It’s all actually been written for longer than the stuff from the first album. It’s going much quicker than the last one because we’re not all stuck in our houses and we’re actually, like, a functional band. We’re also trying to go on tour, hopefully this summer, to main cities in the Midwest, possibly places in the East.”
Blond Guru is hoping to release their second LP later this year. You can check out their music on all streaming platforms.