October 30, 2014

Music Interview: Blood Red Shoes — Do The Evolution

 

Blood Red Shoes bring a different sound to their latest album, “In Time To Voices.”

Music Interview: Blood Red Shoes — Do The Evolution

It shouldn’t be possible for a two-piece band to make this much noise. Consisting of drummer Steven Ansell and guitarist Laura-Mary Carter, Brighton’s Blood Red Shoes is as effective as they are efficient. Their latest album, In Time To Voices, may be under the radar but is the real deal among myriad indie sound-alike bands.

After four years of albums and constant touring in the U.K., the band is making a second trip and first proper (sort of) tour of the United States. Ansell was kind enough to spare few minutes to share his thoughts on touring, the creative process and the band’s heavy, groove-oriented latest album.

Topanga Messenger: The new album is a sea change from Fire Like This. Was there an intent to make this album different or did it happen organically?

Steven Ansell:
It was a bit of both really. We’ve been playing around with some different stuff for a long time but never really found a way to make it fit together with our more punk rock side. With this album we thought it was time to put across some of the sounds from the other side to our band so we spent a lot of time experimenting to see how we could make it all cohesive. We just allowed ourselves to explore some more melancholy, more reflective sounds and see what comes out really; it wasn't like a concrete conscious decision.

TM: Last time we spoke you mentioned Q and Not U, Autolux, and Built to Spill as influences. For this album you’ve mentioned Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin and Fleetwood Mac. Does slower mean more epic?

SA:
[chuckles] The first two are right but I don't think either of us have ever properly listened to Built to Spill so I don't know where that came from! But I don't think slower necessarily means more epic. Often, I think music is just a lot heavier when it's slower. Or you can be more epic, too, of course, and I think we've explored a bit into both of those this time. I also think with a song like "Cold" from the new record, not playing at breakneck speed means we can groove more, and recently we've been really getting into playing with hip-hop grooves and tempos.

TM: The drums are more prominent than in the last album. Was the recording process different as well?

SA:
Actually, a lot of people thought the drums were most prominent on “Fire Like This,” so it's interesting to hear a different perspective. But, yeah, the recording process for In Time To Voices was definitely different; I mean for one thing we had more of a role in the engineering and production of this album than ever before, so we literally helped set up mic positions and defined the sounds more, and we'd done very extensive demos of all of the songs before we went into the studio where we'd worked out the arrangements to a high level of detail. So the studio was less about experimentation and just about getting really, really characterful sounds for the tracking. We also made a concerted attempt to record each song with different sounds so nothing was repeated and each song had its own sonic personality, which we didn't do in the past.

TM: How has your working relationship with producer Mike Crossey progressed through three albums?

SA:
Our relationship with Mike has been great. He's taught us so much about translating what we do into a studio format, and has been great at helping us learn the technical side of studio production. Recording this album was incredibly different from the first record [2008’s Box of Secrets] because we've learned so much — and so had Mike. So it's been a really cool relationship that's grown over time. We can start recording and immediately get into the detail of what we're doing because we know each other so well there's no pussyfooting around, you know?

TM: For me, “7 Years” crystallizes the band then and now. What is your favorite song on the album and why?

SA:
Well it changes, but I think “The Silence and The Drones” is my favorite song. I think because it's a song we've been trying to write for a long time, plus it was one of the first songs written for In Time To Voices, and it gave us a bit of direction, a blueprint. On Fire Like This, it was “Colours Fade” that had the same effect. “The Silence and The Drones” was the point where we managed to nail the kind of hard rock sound that we like but to a song that's more somber and reflective, but still powerful and unrestrained. That being said, I also think “Cold” is one of the best songs we've ever written because it's covered in melodies and hooks but it also has a mean side and is really brutal, which kind of summarizes how we see our band.

TM: So, this is your second jaunt through the States. How is different this time compared to last time?

SA:
This is the first time that we've had a full record release in the States so it's been nice to feel like we're getting noticed more, I mean the U.S. is so big so I think it's going to take us a fair few tours before we really get through properly, but this already feels like a step up from the last tour we did. There are more people showing up at the shows so far, that's for sure.

TM: Is there any sightseeing that goes on, or has touring just become another day, another show?

SA:
Most of the time, it's another day, another show to be honest. Lots of driving and then your time outside of the soundcheck/gig/interview routine are mostly after the show, so sightseeing tends to only be bars and clubs. You learn to get a feel for the places you've been through, the people you meet and hang out with, more than the tourist attractions.

TM: You performed at the Culture Collide Festival in Los Angeles. Any thoughts on your first U.S. Festival?

SA:
Yeah we were just excited to play a festival. I mean we always have a good time at festivals and it usually means you get to play to way more people than usual, so it's a cool opportunity for us to see if we can win over a new crowd.

TM: Who are you listening to now?

SA:
Right now the radio is on in the van and it's some god awful radio-metal s***; I think its Linkin Park actually.

TM: What’s next?

SA:
Immediately next is our Philadelphia show, but after this run across the U.S. and Canada, we go straight into a tour supporting the Gaslight Anthem in Europe, then followed by our own shows in Europe…then we have Australia and new Zealand…then southeast Asia…so in summary, we're touring, a lot, until early 2013.

Blood Red Shoes’ stunning new album, “In Time To Voices,” is on iTunes and Amazon.