It is no secret that Los Angeles tunesmith Bleu — born William James McAuley III — is a sucker for a great pop song. During his four-album solo career, he has launched sugary side projects such as the Major Labels with Mike Viola, the ELO-inspired LEO with Andy Sturmer, and LoudLion, his new tribute to producer Mutt Lange (a joint venture with Rooney’s Taylor Locke, for whom he is opening in The City on Sunday). And Bleu has been co-writing material with Disney hit-makers Selena Gomez and the Jonas Brothers. But for his new album, “Four,” Bleu chose a less-traveled music-biz path called Kickstarter.
So Kickstarter is a do-it-yourself fundraising organization that allowed you to self-finance “Four,” right? Yes. It’s a way for artists to do fundraising campaigns directly through their fan bases. We thought it would be a good way to take matters into our own hands, rather than dealing with a record label this go-round. And it worked out quite well. We made just a hundred bucks shy of 40 grand. So I just want to keep saying thank you to everybody out there, because I can’t believe this happened. And Kickstarter, I should mention, is not just for music, it’s for all kinds of things, like community action, writing novels, building robots. Anything you could imagine with a small, cult-y following.
You did it by offering a variety of packages to fans. What was offered? One of them was that I, personally, will cook you dinner. And of course, we did the house concert, which is pretty common for the Kickstarter campaigns. But I think our most popular high-priced item was that I would produce a song for you, in the studio that I do most of my material in. That one was superpopular; they all sold out in the first day.
And now you’re working with young Disney stars? Yeah. And I just did some co-producing on the new Drake Bell record. But I haven’t had any big hits through that. It’s been a lot of album cuts, so it’s not like I’m living high on the hog.
You’re still in love with pop songwriting, right? It’s always been about that for me. Songwriting is at the core of all of it. Even with LoudLion — Mutt Lange’s songwriting is odd, very idiosyncratic, and just finding out what makes that tick is a big passion for me.
Do you still have your signature muttonchops? If I had my druthers, I’d probably just grow a big beard instead of maintaining the sideburns. But the hair on my face grows so fast and so thick, I’d look like Grizzly Adams in 2½ weeks. And nobody wants that.
IF YOU GO
Opening for Taylor Locke and The Roughs
Where: Hotel Utah, 500 Fourth St., San Francisco
When: 8 p.m. Sunday
Tickets: $8 to $10
Contact: (415) 546-6300, www.ticketweb.com