Blaine L. Reininger
Born in 1953 in Pueblo, CO, to a Latina mother and „an Okie farmer with a German name, “ Blaine Reininger has the advantage of not only one of the most distinct names in music but an equally distinct and often fascinating career in general, thanks to his nearly continuous membership in one of America’s most underrated band s, Tuxedomoon, which started off in San Francisco in 1977 around a core of Reininger and Steven Brown. Reininger’s career resulting in a combination of full-on solo efforts (such as 1991’s Instrumentals), collaborations with Brown (One Hundred Years of Music and Croatian Variations), and soundtracks (Radio Moscow and Manic Man). As of 2004 Reininger split his time between Greece and Italy, continuing to record with and without Tuxedomoon.
1: My middle name, Leslie, is for my Uncle Leslie, a well-off Texas farmer my father hoped would give him some money. He did not. He gave me two plaid shirts instead.
2:I left the United States for good in 1981. I have now lived more than half my life in Europe.
3: If my grand mother had had an accordion in her basement, rather than a violin, I would have been Tuxedomoon’s accordion player.
What is the biggest inspiration for your music?
There have been many composers and musicians who inspired me in my early life, John Cage, Claude Debussy, The Beatles, David Bowie, Captain Beefheart, but after I learned how to compose for myself, the world around me, the inner reaches of my own mind and heart and the mysterious workings of the universe itself have given me inspiration enough.
How and when did you get into making music?
I began to study and perform music in 1959, at the age of six, starting to sing in public at recitals organized by my singing teacher. Once I learned violin, I began to play in an orchestra at the age of 9 and when I learned guitar at 11, I joined my first band , The Tycoons. All of this in Pueblo, Colorado, my hometown.
What are your 5 favorite albums of all time?
1. “Meet the Beatles” by The Beatles: The American release of the first Beatles album changed my life. First I would mime to this music, playing badminton racquets with my friends. This led to my learning the guitar and joining a band .
2. “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band ” by The Beatles: This record influenced everyone. The Beatles were one of the main channels through which the ideas of the 60’s European avant garde, like Stockhausen, found their way to remote corners of the world like Pueblo, Colorado, my home town.
3. “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars” by David Bowie: David Bowie was a true game changer. He appeared on the American scene at the time of an especially dull music land scape, filled by such delights as The Eagles and Jim Croce. When I was driving a taxi in Pueblo, Colorado in 1973, listening to AM radio in my cab, only “Space Oddity” and Lou Reed’s “Walk on the Wild Side” made my nights on the job bearable.
4. “Ha Ha Ha” by Ultravox: The intelligent lyrics, the pose, Billy Currie’s gnarly synth sounds and the hard hitting guitar combined to make this record and this band effect me like no other since Bowie at the time. I am proud to have met and worked with both John Foxx and Billie Currie.
5. “Radioactivity” by Kraftwerk: Influenced everyone from hip hop to electro pop. I was no exception.
What do you associate with Berlin?
I spent some wonderful times in Berlin, not only in the pre-wende 80’s but especially in 2001 when I was resident in Berlin Mitte, working at the Prater Theater with my friend Albrecht Hirche. We were performing his play based upon “Spiel Mir das Lied vom Tod”. I played Henry Fonda. I hung out in Berlin for 3 months, rode my bicycle every day, performed at night, rowed a boat on the Spree, fell in love, fell out of love, considered moving to Berlin but never made it. “Ich habe noch ein koffer in Berlin”.
What’s your favorite place in your town?
My favorite place in Athens is Syntagma square, the big public square near the Parliament. When there is no riot there, I ride my bicycle up there and watch the people go by.
If there was no music in the world, what would you do instead?
If there were no music in the world, I would probably be a poet, an even poorer job than a musician.
What was the last record you bought?
The last music I bought was bought online. It was probably the latest album by my friend Robin Crutchfield, founder of Dark Day and DNA. He now does harp music.
Who would you most like to collaborate with?
I would love to do something or other with Brian Eno.
What was your best gig (as performer or spectator)?
My favorite Tuxedomoon show was probably our 1980 performance at SO 36 in Berlin.
How important is technology to your creative process?
Technology in the form of synthesizers and later, computers, was always the very cornerstone of my work. Working without electronics, using only acoustic instruments, for instance, is not appealing to me at all.
Do you have siblings and how do they feel about your career?
My brother, Mike, is a drummer who lives in Denver, Colorado. He has always been supportive of my career.