The word ‘change‘ can entail a vastly different meaning for any and all parties involved with the scope of what it applies to. Sometimes good, sometimes bad, sometimes somewhere in-between; Changes happen, and whether by our choosing or otherwise, we all keep our fingers crossed that they may remain meaningful, even if not consistent, to some extent or another. That said, today’s Weekly Featured ArtistBlood Ponies, is a band that endured a fair amount of change, having moved from the San Diego, CA scene to the Richmond, VA scene a few years back. Despite this change of scenery, and what all it entailed, the band has remained consistent with their integrity to quality songwriting as well as writing from the heart. Today, we welcome them as we gallop deeper into the realm of what makes them well worth your listen!

As stated above, the band originated out of the sunny San Diego, CA, but made the move sometime between 2020 into 2021 over to Richmond, VA for both personal and professional opportunities. As such, Blood Ponies‘ legacy would be carried over to the new territory with them. With a heavy, super dark, death rock sound blending with almost crooning-style, mid-to-low toned vocal work from guitarist and singer Jeffery Terich, as well as the rhythmic, but no less well-embellished drum work of Candice Renee, it would not surprise anyone that the goths of Richmond, VA would be in for a treat. But this band is certainly much more than just another name to slap onto your Spooky Spotify Playlist, as their range gives notes of noise rock, indie-alternative, and even moments that might call for a mosh pit or two. With so much flavor packed into one place, it’s hard to not find somewhere in which you’ll get lost in the fluid, seamless, yet gritty atmosphere that Blood Ponies engulf listeners in from track to track.

Their 2019 album, Hoax, being their most recent work to check out, it’s easy to find virtually any place here to hook you into their style. Personally, the first time I heard “Hostile Takeover”, it had me instantly following them and checking out the rest of the album. Not to mention, such tracks as “Submit/Surrender”, “Deluge”, and “The Body” pound on the eardrums in a fashion that incites reminiscence to greats such as InterpolFilterThe Smashing Pumpkins, and other greats from the ’90s and early 2000s. However, even if these were to be, in any way, influences the band cites, Blood Ponies cut their very own path with this sound. This post-punk, indie-alternative, sludge rock sort of crossover that’s heard between these tracks and others just gives such a hauntingly beautiful landscape to wander through, that it will call for a mass of replays. While this is a record from about 5 years ago, it’s held fans and myself over well enough, only making us more eager for newer tracks from the band, knowing there’s nowhere but up to go from here.

First witnessing the band live in 2022 at the album release show for another RVA act, TVLPA, I found myself all the more a fan. The album will have you believing you’re hearing a 4 or 5 piece act – with such a strong, full sound being present – and yet Blood Ponies consists only of two members, who still manage to perfect that fullness without any drawback whatsoever. Where any synth part is to be recreated appears to be under the control of Candice, while Jeffery brings the melody and the riffage handling a sort of double-amp’d setup that allows him to play both the guitar and bass tones of each song in a live setting. As you might imagine, this is no easy task to just pull off as seemingly effortlessly as the two do, or at least, the wall of sound they manage to produce with it is really a big outlier in my opinion. Name whatever grindcore band you want, the level of depth this band manages to not only compose but then recreate is an astounding display of their artistic nature and musicianship. Jeffery Terich joins me in collaborating for this article in order to give further, first-hand details of the band’s conception and what they’re all about…

Blood Ponies are a dystopian doom punk duo. We like to explore dark themes and dissonant sounds, drawing lyrical inspiration from literature and strange phenomena and musical inspiration from too much other music to mention. But the longer we go, the darker and heavier those sounds get. I’ve been in a handful of bands over the years, none of which ever lasted much longer than a couple of years, and one of the problems we often ran into was that we had trouble keeping drummers. And each drummer we had played in other bands as well, so I’m sure they shared those frustrations. But Candice kind of casually suggested ‘hey, maybe I should be your drummer.‘ Eventually, several years after my last band ended, Candice and I started playing Cure covers together just for fun, which became a Halloween show in San Diego, and it went so well that we decided to start writing songs and taking it more seriously, and we’ve kept it going ever since.

Even as well as the Richmond, VA music scene seems to have taken to Blood Ponies, when you make virtually any move in your life – it comes with both its learning curve of sorts, as well as perhaps a fair share of adjustments. For Jeff and Candice, having come up in a scene with a bit larger a scale as San Diego’s and then transitioning into a somewhat smaller one found in Richmond, VA, it wasn’t exactly clear how everything would turn out (not that it likely ever is regardless of expectations) and performing music mostly off of their latest record from two years prior to their move, who was to know what the punky, metal-loving weirdos of RVA were going to think?! Thankfully, the band experienced, and continues to experience, a warm, palpable high-energy within the RVA community. Those who have lived here and seen it before, such as myself, likely are no strangers to how passionate the culture is and can be; But when you’re new in town and just trying to get involved with it all, it truly helps to feel so quickly accepted, and RVA does have an endearing, distinct way with that.

Richmond is amazing! Our experience has been super great, and the bands and musicians here have been super welcoming and fun to play shows with, and so far we’ve had nothing but good experiences at the venues where we’ve played. And for that matter, the crowds here are great too—it’s a smaller scene compared to San Diego, but it feels like the enthusiasm and energy is a lot more elevated. Having been in San Diego for so long, we got to know everybody, not just bands but everyone who worked at the venues, bartenders, etc., and having that network was super helpful. We’re still meeting people and getting to know the scene here in Richmond, so that’s something that’ll come with time, but our experience has been nothing but positive.

…Curious both to what the San Diego scene was like, as well as what the band believes makes a ‘good’ music scene, I inquired a bit about both, to which Jeff articulated finely…

As a new band in San Diego with few specific expectations other than to play some shows and write some songs and see what happens, we felt like we were quickly welcomed into a network of musicians who were supportive of what we did and generally were supportive of other bands. A healthy scene has and should have a rising-tide-floats-all-boats attitude, because everyone benefits when there’s a healthy scene. If nobody’s invested in it, then that scene will probably wither and atrophy and it’ll be that much harder to get people interested in coming out to see local bands. That said, a sense of competition does come up from time to time, and it’s inevitable, especially when several bands are vying to play a high-profile show with a big headliner or something like that. It happens, everyone’s human, but it’s best not to let that stuff get in the way. If we’re all in each other’s corner and we’re all each other’s biggest fans, then the scene can thrive.

Jeff also notes the dynamic of variety in line-ups for Richmond shows. Mentioning a couple favorite venues and fond live show memories, Terich talks about what tends to be some trademarks of a ‘great show‘, and how having a mixed-bag of a bill can be a good thing more often than not. Known just as much for its DIY angle as it is any other factor, RVA has certainly offered a wide array of diversity within bills. Be it shows under bridges, fundraising events, or something put together in a local resident’s backyard, RVA has it all and embraces the idea of putting shoegaze, grindcore, hip-hop, punk, pop, and more all on the same bill. While many venues and promoters tend to lean as much into bills that make sense as they can, even the more professional spaces have seen the positives in doing these mixed bills. As such, it’s no surprise that Blood Ponies have also embraced a bit of crossover and overlap within their fanbase, having played a few of these shows.

Any show we’ve ever played at The Casbah in San Diego or Fallout in Richmond will likely rise to the top because they’re two of our favorite venues and we always have a great time whenever we’re there and they’re run by great people. We played a show with Algiers in 2017 and quickly became karaoke friends, and did our first international show in Tijuana the year before with Silent. But any show where people are having fun and someone is stoked to hear your music is always going to be the best feeling. We did a show last year at a DIY warehouse venue behind a BMX shop in Richmond with three totally different other bands—a powerviolence group, an instrumental prog-rock-ish band, and an indie/emo group that was touring from Idaho. We didn’t really have much in common sound wise, but everyone had a great time, and those are the shows that always stand out to me.

Elaborating more on the strong value I see and hear in Hoax, I mentioned to Jeff that the album’s appeal doesn’t seem to have let up in the slightest even 5 years after its release. Blood Ponies would certainly not be the first to be able to ride out a single release for sometime before dropping their next, but while I know how much any artist begins to itch for writing, recording, and releasing new music, it really says something about the quality of their songwriting if listeners new and old can still remain patient as they listen back to what is already there. The fact that the band has more or less reintroduced themselves to a new city with a new crowd and begun garnering new fans does help keep the record fresh, given its mostly ‘new ears‘ hearing it. But, I know for fact I am not the only one who is continually excited for what the future holds, and as I spoke with Jeff, he gave me more insight on what went into Hoax and how the record came together, as well as potential for new material…

We’ve played these songs a lot so it’s good to hear that they’re still fresh. We wrote the album throughout 2018 sort of in small chunks here and there, and everything that’s on the record is everything we wrote, for the most part. We had a few other songs we were working on that we never finished; one in particular I remember spending weeks on and eventually Candice said ‘OK, I gotta be honest, this one just isn’t coming together,‘ and once she said that, it was easier for me to just say ‘alright, let’s let this one go.‘ But most of the others came together pretty easily. Once we put together the Suicide-y synth loop and the pretty simple two-note guitar riff for “Submit/Surrender,” we knew we had something really cool, and we didn’t overthink it. It was one of the simplest songs we ever wrote and is still one of my favorites. The same goes for “Still Life” and “Hoax”, each of which has us both pretty excited once we stumbled upon the sound we wanted.

…On where recording took place as well as who was behind the board for mixing…

We recorded the album in San Diego with Ben Moore at Singing Serpent, who has worked with Hot Snakes and Retox and Diamanda Galás, and he’s an absolute pleasure to work with. As a duo, but a noisy duo, it’s always important that we work with someone who kind of gets what we’re going for and knows how to capture our music with the right amount of punch and heaviness. And he absolutely nailed it. At one point we noticed there was a huge gong in the studio, that apparently Faust had used when they were playing sometime in the prior few years in San Diego, so we were kind of eyeing it and he said ‘go for it.‘ So the noise track on the album (“To Be Hungry Already Means That You Want to Be Free”) features sounds of that gong and me playing my guitar with a vibrator, which also was sitting around the studio for reasons that were never explained, but hey, it’s rock ‘n’ roll. The pandemic sort of sidelined things because we had just released Hoax and were playing a lot of great shows, but once that fell by the wayside, so did our songwriting. We didn’t start working on new material until after moving to Richmond, and we’ve written a few things that are in various states of completion, but nothing concrete to share yet. That being said, we often will test some things out live, so there’s a good chance you’ll hear something new at any shows we play in the coming months.

I had mentioned previously about the strong live sound the band has. Everything they do in recording seems to translate seamlessly to a live setting. Jeff explains to me that essentially every song they’ve recorded ‘started with live performances‘, which he admits is a sort of reverse order of operations. He says that even though the band wouldn’t necessarily be against recording something before performing it live, it has worked more naturally for them to do it as they have so far. As such, this would make a lot of sense as to why their live performance is so flawless and capable of projecting the fuller sound it has, given what we hear recorded is actually just a genuine, totally authentic capture of what they’ve been doing live for each song.

That’s always been an important thing for us: Turning the sound of two people onstage into something really massive and heavy. Part of how we do that is by splitting my guitar channel into two: one for guitar leads and one for the bass signal, which runs through an octave pedal so that it has that extra beefy low-end. So it sounds more like there’s three of us, or four, when we use a sampler, which is something we do sometimes and probably will do more as we continue working on new music. But it’s deceptively simple. I love playing with gear and pedals and stuff as much as the next guy, but our sound is pretty dialed in through relatively simple, minimalist means. That said, it’s a baseline, so more can always be added.

So why listen to and follow Blood Ponies? The simple answer is that every piece of what they’re about entails a heightened sense of passion as well as expression. You certainly cannot manufacture authenticity, and even as streamlined, simplified, or ‘sampled‘ as any part of their music or setup may be – it all generates from a place of sincere rehearsal, attention to detail, and completely organic in form. Blood Ponies put heart and soul into their craft, and while this is debatably what any artist either does do or aims to do, the product is so visceral and real that it’s impossible to not recognize it. The fact that the duo operates so strictly as just a duo, as Jeff notes that they have ‘a unique chemistry that we didn’t want to mess with‘, helps reflect their idea that even as limiting and minimalist as keeping only the two members and style of setup they utilize for live performance, it doesn’t actually limit them much at all; Less can often truly be more, and Blood Ponies do seemingly boundless things within their fairly minimalist scope.

In a world slowly starting to be dominated by automations, AI, machinery seeming to replace human hands, and lots of reliance on technologies and other forms of not-so-organic or natural aspects, a band like Blood Ponies reminds us what it is to be human and believe in your own capabilities. While they may describe themselves as ‘Dystopian Doom Punk‘, the band serves, to me, as a beacon of artistic expression at some of its finest depths. The way Jeff speaks on the band, it sounds as if nothing ever goes out unless it falls uniquely in line with what they wish to convey. Any time we are reminded of the remarkable things that can come from the human mind, no matter how quantified the capacity of that may be or the formality in which it exists, it inspires us to keep being as human as possible, for better or worse.

I don’t think we have any specific expectations, other than that we hope people like it. But even if they don’t, we hope they don’t find it forgettable. We don’t really think too much about how music will be received when we write it; if we release a song it’s because we love it. And we can be fairly self-critical. But we kind of try to create something that stands apart a little. Our music doesn’t always fit into a neat category or genre, and that’s sometimes a blessing and a curse, but hopefully listeners appreciate that our muse doesn’t necessarily move in a straight line. Self-expression and being able to create something that can exist as art is a really rewarding thing, in spite of how complicated and challenging it is to be a working musician right now. But even more than that, it’s really just fun as hell to play noisy music with friends and meet new people.

Deprive yourself of the authenticity of Blood Ponies no more! Be sure to follow the band on Facebook and Instagram for all news and upcoming events, and keep an eye on their Bandcamp for new releases, as you also get acquainted with what’s already available! The band has held a special place in my heart for three whole years now, and that shows no signs of changing any time soon. But this article isn’t just for me to gush over a band I already know I love, but also share as much detail as I can for why you should also be paying attention to them. Should you find yourself anywhere near DC on August 3rd, the band will be performing at Slash Run with Twings and Winter Sect; Then you can see first-hand why no part of what they do could ever be forgettable in the slightest…

Blood Ponies are…

Jeff Terich – vocals, guitars, bass, additional sounds
Candice Renee – drums, synths, samples, additional sounds



Easygoing weirdo with a love for life, music, art, culture, outdoors, meeting new people, seeing new places, and trying new things. Oh yeah, and I guess I never shut up about the things I love, too. That’s a quality!

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