Saturday, March 27, 2010
EXCLUSIVE! Blood Red Shoes INTV!
With non-stop energy and excitement, the English duo Blood Red Shoes have captivated the attention of listeners and audience members worldwide. From tiny clubs to the big stages of Reading and Leeds Festivals to All Tomorrow's Parties, Blood Red Shoes are stomping ground wherever they play. Switching off on vocal duties, the duo comprised of Steven Ansell and Laura-Mary Carter, the band combines thrash punk, garage, rockabilly and goes to 11 each and every single time. Their latest, Fire Like This has only been released in their native UK, however, with the buzz surrounding this band, it is only a matter of time before it makes its way across the pond. Just before releasing Fire Like This, I had the opportunity to speak to drummer/vocalist Steven Ansell about the new album, band's history and buzz. Take a look, in one of their first American interviews, my conversation with Steven Ansell of Blood Red Shoes below..
Being a duo consisting of drums, guitar and vocals, how do you two manage to stir up so much noise?
SA: Well we just play with intensity. You can stir up a lot of noise with just one person if you want to. I mean, you've seen Lightning Bolt right? Fuck me we look like Abba compared to that. We just turn it up and rock out really, there's no real secret to that. I think it's just a misconception that because there are less people it will be smaller or less full sounding, there are bands with 5 people in them who sound really thin and quiet. Especially in England. There’s also a sense of directness when there are less instruments and people going on and I think that can translate as intensity with the right kind of musician.
The sound of the band is very unique; you seem to mix 60’s garage rock with rockabilly and a touch of new wave. Who are some of your influences?
SA: Whoa I think you're the first person to mention rockabilly that's kinda fun. Laura-Mary is actually really into stuff like that so it's cool you can see that. i think generally our influences are noisy American rock stuff, call it what you will, "alternative rock" or punk or whatever. We’re big into stuff like Nirvana, Babes in Toyland, Pixies, Sonic Youth, Fugazi, Queens of the Stone Age are always on the stereo too...also stuff like My Bloody Valentine, Pj Harvey, the stooges. I don't think we're that unique YET, especially when you look at the tradition we see ourselves as part of. we sound unique at the moment because there aren't many bands like us, it's all fucking electro or bad britpop guitar shit. I think our new album is a lot more unique than the first actually.
Though you may not sound like a punk band, you consider yourself to be one and not an English guitar act, how do you come about this description?
SA: Well we ARE an English guitar act we just don't think we have anything in common with most of the other English guitar scene. Most of the stuff here sounds really weedy to us, lots of clean guitar and little drum sounds. It very polite and radio-friendly, no-one goes for a big bombastic sound, the wall of noise. I think we "sounded" more like a punk band when we started, for whatever that means, but punk is an ethos and approach not a style. Just because we don’t have tattoos or sound like minor threat doesn't mean we're not a punk band. Our attitude is that music should be direct, energetic, and honest. No bullshit. That is punk regardless of what form it comes out in. that's why we're different to a lot of English music because it's more like a show business thing with a lot of bands here, it's very stylized and considered. it just doesn't feel very intense or real to me. i hope that we're the opposite to that.
You are currently in the process of making your second record, how is it going?
SA: Well it's finished and you can get the first track from it for free on our website. We’re really happy with it. I think it’s a big progression from the first record in terms of writing, and how it sounds. It’s much more like our vision of "us", it feels a bit closer to having our own identity than the first album. And it's made us really psyched to start the 3rd one already actually.
What can fans expect from the new album?
SA: More honesty. A much heavier, less compressed record. Quieter vocals! More details and more atmosphere in the songs, also there's more variation in the feel of the songs, it's more adventurous sonically and in terms of how we structured the songs. I think it's one of those records that will last longer because there's more to it; it's got more depth both musically and emotionally. It’s not a complete departure from the first record, I mean it couldn't be since its still our voices, but I do think its pushed the sound forward. We definitely better musicians than before and understand how to get what we want in the studio more.
Since you both sing, is there a principle songwriter? Does Laura-Mary write for You and vice-versa, or just stick to each person writes for themselves?
SA: There are no hard and fast rules. Laura-Mary writes the guitar lines, then I jam along with the drums. Between us we both tinker around with the structure of the song and the direction it goes in. most times, the person you hear singing is the person who wrote the melody and words but not always. For example, this is not for you, the verse melody i started singing but it wasn't quite right so Laura-Mary took over, and it just worked great. Then she wrote the words. There’s always an exchange between us, even if it's just me showing Laura the words to one section and her saying "yeh I like it, do it". No one person is ever steering it alone, sometimes it’s very 50/50 and sometimes the balance tips either way.
Your live sets have gotten you much praise, what is the formula for being a good live band?
SA: Play a lot. And then some more, and then some more. We were a fucking mess when we started, I mean, we had an energy and it was a big noise but it was a fucking mess. I couldn't drum for shit. We just toured to hell and before you realize it you've actually got tight. I think that came much more from touring than from practicing in a practice space. I think once we got better at playing and really playing as a unit, the energy had always been there so it worked. I still think we're getting better, we're very self critical and even though I know we're a good live band, we know we can be a better one.
Being a fan of The Pixies, what was it like having Kim Deal ask you to play at All Tomorrow’s Parties?
SA: Fucking amazing. I remember the exact second that I saw the email, at that time we were sharing a flat so I just jumped around screaming and Laura had no idea if something wonderful or something terrible had occurred. Every band aspires to have some sort of recognition from your peers or bands you respect. That was a really big thing for us. We love the breeders and the pixies. Now all we need is PJ Harvey to call us up and ask to collaborate on a song and we can sit back for the rest of our lives with big smug fucking smiles and never do anything again.
When can we expect Blood Red Shoes in the US?
SA: May of this year. We don't have a record label in the US so it was really hard to afford to come over and tour the first album. This time we've stored some cash aside so we can self-fund a trip over. I mean in the UK no labels really knew what to do with us for years until we'd toured enough and released limited stuff and earned a proper bunch of fans. I see no reason why any labels would think differently in the US, I think we're not in fashion enough or not commercial enough for someone to take a risk on. Because you know, the music industry is "dying" they all say. ha.
I ask this question often to many UK bands, is it still a big deal for a UK act to break big in the US?
SA: Yeh I think so. The US still has such a cultural sway over the rest of the world that I think the perception is whatever you do, if it's big in the US then you've really MADE IT. I’m sure it's the same for a lawyer as for a musician. It makes me laugh, as I’m sure it does most people in the US because it doesn't make anything more valid, but it's definitely the dominant perception. I know my family would be really impressed if i could say "yeh we're big in America" you know what i mean!? ha ha. For us it's a big deal just because most of our favorite music comes from the states. so it feels like some sort of spiritual home, we really want to play in Portland, we really want to play DC or Seattle or San Diego, because so much music from there has influenced us. We have a real excitement about that. It’s also the only major part of the western world we've not toured yet so it has to be done.
Video for "I Wish I Was Someone Better" (Above), Video for "Light It Up" (Below)
Special thanks to Steven for the interview!