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Power Pop Passion Players, Blinded By Stereo

Alex Bakken

It all started in the waterbed…well, at least that’s how Jake would say it all started. You’d probably get a different answer from Matt, Tyler, or Eric, and they’d all definitely rag on Jake for bringing up the waterbed in the first place.

But we’ll get back to that. So where did it actually start?

Well, I guess the proper origin would be Los Angeles in the faraway year of 2019…

Matt Riddle was a guitarist without a band. Every lead singer in L.A. dreamt of making their own band, so what did they do? They made their own band. And then, after about a month, when they didn’t want to put in the work, they made a run for it. And that left our hero, Matt, with no band to strum in. Wash, rinse, repeat, and eventually Matt decided he’d had enough—it was time to get serious.

Enter the St. Louis music scene and an old friend named Craigslist. In February 2019, after moving to the brand new city, Matt was eager to make some friends, I mean bandmates. “The Craigslist struggle is real. I was on Craigslist every day putting out ads for people, and you just get the dregs sometimes—and that’s how I found Eric,” Matt recalled.

In Eric Moore’s own words: “I believe my ad was ‘who wants to play four chords and rock the fuck out?’” A long-time resident of St. Louis, Eric was a drummer also in need of a band. Maybe it was their mutual need of friends, sorry, bandmates, or maybe something just clicked during their first jam session, but Matt and Eric knew they had started something real.

From there, the bandmate collection continued. “We found a bass player who was a douche,” Eric remembered, “and then we found Tyler, who was less of a douche!” Tyler Gilbert joined the band in the fall of 2019, adding a third layer to the Matt and Eric duo. The three played together for a few months at the end of 2019, gradually piecing together the rhythm, tempo and overall feel of the band. But something else was missing—keys.

Jacob Vi, a long-time friend of Eric’s, had been in a number of bands before. In fact, Eric and Jake used to play together in a Tom Petty/John Mellencamp-inspired ensemble. There’s no better way to introduce Jake than with his own self-described origin story: “I was conceived to ‘slow and easy’ by Whitesnake…on a waterbed. That’s a true story; my Dad told me that” Jake said, laughing.

Blinded By Stereo, Heavy Anchor, Cory Weaver photo
Gilbert, Moore and Riddle, 3/4s of Blinded by Stereo at The Heavy Anchor. photos: Cory Weaver

So, as the final musical gap was filled and the trio became a quartet, Blinded by Stereo was born!

As you’ve probably gathered from the first half of this story, the guys in Blinded by Stereo like to have fun—quite a bit of it. But don’t let that fool you. Yes, I may have spent the better part of their interview listening to a story involving $5 pitchers of Rolling Rock, a stuffy attic and a purchase of Robin Thicke’s entire discography on iTunes for a one-night stand. However, these guys are the real deal, and you can tell.

“We wanted to do something where we could be totally proud of it,” Matt said. The band had a multitude of opportunities to cut corners during the production of their first album, TAPE, but that’s not who Blinded by Stereo is. Even through the mother of all excuses, Covid-19 and 2020 in general, the band still aimed to make something incredibly high-quality.

The songwriting, the in-studio performances, the post-production, everything is operating at 110%. The guys went so far as to aggrandize the vinyl pressing of the album, which comes in a 180 gram blue vinyl record with custom artwork from The Firecracker Press on Cherokee Street. “None of us had ever done a vinyl before…we wanted it to be something that would be fun to buy,” Matt related.

When you sit down and listen to this band, you’ll understand exactly where their passion has gone: every last drop is in the music.

TAPE is a phenomenal piece of high-octane power pop. The band lives and breathes in the 160-bpm area, causing every song to hit like a shot of espresso straight into your bloodstream. This is no accident.

“I’ve been in a lot of bands that are heavy downers,” Matt remarked. “You go to a bar and there’s some guys there singing about their ex-girlfriend and how they want to kill themselves. That’s not why I’m there. I go to a bar because I want to shake my ass off and have a good time.”

Whether it’s the album’s premiere track, “Forever and a Day,” the final track, “Sarah,” or my personal favorite, “Brooklyn,” each song brings out a visceral reaction in its listener. You really can’t leave this album without having a tune stuck in your head. Do yourself a huge favor and add TAPE to your collection ASAP—you’ll only regret it if you pass it by.

So where does Blinded by Stereo go now that the origin story is complete? It’s only up from here. The group has big plans for a second album, including a handful of songs that are already being performed live.

“The next thing, we’ll approach it differently,” Matt noted. The band is outlining their second album to feature more musical layers, sonic audio and some different instrumentation. They are also hoping to tell a whole story with the next piece:

“The first album was like ‘let’s get this out there’, the next one will be more of a record.”

In the meantime, you can catch the guys performing throughout the city of St. Louis. Joining the ranks of local superstars like Jesus Christ Supercar, Middle Class Fashion and Apex Shrine, it’s only a matter of time before Blinded by Stereo is another household name for the St. Louis music scene.

To end our great story, I think it’s only appropriate to complete Matt’s character arc: did our hero find a new home after his move to St Louis? I’ll let him tell you:

“The best way to meet new people was with music…now I haven’t made any friends, but I did start a band!”

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