For 25 years, the Blue Man Group has blurred the thin blue lines between music, theater, performance, visual art and invention. As a percussion-based spectacle, part of their appeal has always been primal banging on knotty tangles of PVC tubes, the furious whipping of airpoles and the thunderous pounds on a big drum they lovingly call “the Big Drum.” Their mostly instrumental third album, Three, just released on Rhino Records, is a feast of such sonic ingenuity, a showcase of home-brewed instruments like the snorkelbone and the chimeulum honking and sparkling over rhythms redolent of contemporary EDM.
Blue Man Group co-founders Chris Wink and Phil Stanton and creative director/recorded music head Jeff Turlik were kind enough to show Rolling Stone the process behind inventions like the spinulum. The team took us to their New York research and development lab where future blue innovations emerge and the recording studio where tubes sing their echoing melodies.
“There isn’t really a big difference, I think, between visual arts or music making or any other job,” says Bill Swartz, Creative Director, Technology and Effects, Blue Man Productions. “It’s all just spontaneous, openness to solving problems”