Biography
One of the pioneering bands in the cowpunk movement and a precursor to the alt-country scene that emerged in the late '80s, Blood on the Saddle were a band who married the songcraft and feel of vintage country and bluegrass with the speed, ferocity, and roaring guitars of punk rock. Founded by guitarist Greg Davis, the band's rotating lineup has featured a number of notable figures from the Los Angeles underground music scene and emphasized the rootsy and hell-raising side of country music over the more polished mainstream sounds that came out of Nashville from the Urban Cowboy era on. Blood on the Saddle's sound was at at its rawest and most straightforward on their self-titled 1984 album, and while there was a dash of pop polish in the production of 1986's Poison Love, 1987's Fresh Blood was a return to the sound of the first album, albeit tighter sounding and more skillful, and subsequent releases found them delivering their trademark sound with energy and enthusiasm well into the 21st century.

Greg Davis conceived Blood on the Saddle in 1981. At the time, he was playing in a ghoulish Los Angeles punk band called Dead Hippie, and as he saw fellow L.A. acts like the Gun Club, Tex and the Horseheads, X, and the Cramps incorporating country and blues elements into their sound, he wanted to create a more potent variation on the theme. Davis got to know Annette Zilinskas of the Bangs, and they started working up duets on country-influenced tunes, with Davis and Zilinskas trading off on leads. Davis left Los Angeles for New Orleans and later Nashville, but in early 1983, he returned to California and decided to put together a band to play the punk/country hybrid he was hearing in his head. Recruiting upright bassist Ron Botelho and drummer Hermann Senac, Davis persuaded Zilinskas to join the new group. She had just left the Bangs, who had changed their name to the Bangles and were soon to be signed to Columbia; Davis and Zilinskas' combo became Blood on the Saddle.

After making a name for themselves on the local club scene where they played alongside everyone from the Circle Jerks to Dwight Yoakam, they appeared on the 1983 sampler album Hell Comes to Your House, Pt. 2. Shortly afterward, they cut their self-titled debut, which was released in 1984 by New Alliance Records, the independent label founded by the Minutemen. The album earned good reviews, and MCA Records signed Blood on the Saddle to a development deal. However, MCA opted not to release any of the material they recorded, and several of the songs would later appear on 1986's Poison Love, a relatively polished LP that was issued by Chameleon Records. After extensive touring in North America, the U.K., and Europe, Blood on the Saddle recorded a third album, Fresh Blood, issued by the seminal punk label SST Records in 1987. However, by the time it came out, Zilinskas had left the group, and while Davis, Botelho, and Senac briefly continued as a trio, they soon broke up.

Davis formed a new band called the Drivers and played with the Vandals for a spell. He joined Candye Kane's road band, but there was still a demand for Blood on the Saddle, and in 1990 he put together a new version of the band, with Chris Engle on bass and Danny Rickard on drums. Engle's run with the group was a short one as he died in 1991, and Davis worked with a handful of short-term players before recruiting the rhythm section of Billy Koepke (formerly of Legal Weapon) on bass and Eric Davis on drums, a lineup that lasted long enough to record a fourth Blood on the Saddle album, 1993's More Blood. The band toured Europe in support of the LP, and 1995 brought another set, New Blood, which introduced yet another lineup, with John Stephenson on bass and Dave Frappier on drums. This edition of the band also cut a four-song EP that was released as a vinyl 7" by Kill Rock Stars. The German label One Million Dollar Records recruited Blood on the Saddle to contribute four songs to their 1997 compilation It Came from the Barn.

In 1999, Davis, Frappier, and bassist Ed Marshall recorded a full album for the One Million Dollars label; it was released in 2001 as Flesh Blood. 2002 saw Annette Zilinskas reunite with Blood on the Saddle for a handful of live shows, and she did so again in 2006. During this period, Blood on the Saddle played out regularly and were recording fresh material, but it often took a while for their music to see release; The Mud, The Blood, and the Beer was recorded in 2008 but didn't see release until 2020, True Blood was cut in 2013 but didn't appear until 2019, and Blood Alcohol, completed in 2005, was expected to finally see release in 2020. Meanwhile, Davis continued to keep Blood on the Saddle active as a live act and made much of their back catalog available to fans on various digital platforms. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi




 
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