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About Blue Skies For Black Hearts

Cleverly fusing elements of various 1960s and ‘70s pop styles with contemporary indie rock, Blue Skies for Black Hearts were formed by Pat Kearns, a songwriter, recording engineer, and producer from Portland, Oregon. Kearns, whose production and engineering credits include projects with the Dandy Warhols, the Exploding Hearts, and the Clorox Girls, had been playing with a handful of garage rock bands for several years and originally created the BSFBH moniker as a vehicle for songs he'd written and recorded on his own. Kearns played guitars, bass, keyboards, and percussion, as well as singing lead, on the first BSFBH release, 2002's This Black Heart Is Gonna Break, which also featured guest spots from several Portland musicians, including drummer Jean Paul Ramos, who would become part of the band's first live line-up. BSFBH evolved into a proper band by the time they recorded their second LP, Turn the Light Out, which featured Kearns on guitar and vocals, Ramos on drums and bass, Mike Lewis (of the Very Foundation) on guitars, vocals, and keyboards, Kelly Simmons (of Man of the Year) on bass and vocals, and Ratch Aronica on keyboards and vocals. Turn the Light Out was released in mid-2006 on the Portland-based King of Hearts label; months later, a series of romantic crises (Kearns and Aronica, who were lovers, broke up) and musical disputes (Kearns had a falling out with Ramos) led to shake-ups in the group's membership, and Aronica and Ramos were out of BSFBH. Kearns, Lewis, and Simmons teamed with multi-instrumentalist Matthew Morgan, bassist Colin Jarrell, drummer Alan Mansfield (of the Nice Boys), and backing vocalist Gabe Lageson (another Nice Boys member) to record Love Is Not Enough, which they tracked over a couple of weekends and released in October 2006. By 2008, BSFBH had finally cohered into a solid four-piece lineup, with Kearns, Lewis, and Simmons joined by new drummer and vocalist Paul Noel (of Durango Park), and in the spring of that year, they released Serenades and Hand Grenades, which Simmons described as "the first real band record even though it's the fourth Blue Skies record. It was full steam ahead from here." In 2011, BSFBH formed their own label, Super Big Ltd., and released their fifth album (and first with the same lineup as their previous effort), Embracing the Modern Age. Blue Skies for Black Hearts also starred in a short film of the same name, a rock & roll comedy written by Simmons and directed by Jonathan Griffin. ~ Mark Deming