Laura Cox is exactly what she promises to be: a badass rock’n’roll lady who makes her guitar produce sounds that are about to shake the world in a groundbreaking fashion.
With this, she is catapulting herself among the ranks of the great female guitarists. Seriously, could you think of anything cooler than Nancy Wilson, Nita Strauss (Alice Cooper), The Runaways or Joan Jett, just to name a few.
National Rock Review recently caught up with Laura Cox to talk about breaking out onto the international stage, her new album Burning Bright and her upcoming UK tour.
So you just brought out your second album which is called Burning Bright. And this album also marks your first international album following on from Hard Blues Shock. How does it feel to be breaking out onto the international stage so to speak?
Yeah I’m really, really happy because like you said, our first album was only released in France. And now for the second one, they took it to a further level. So I think that it’s great because new people are going to discover our music and hopefully we’re going to tour more in other countries. Because for now, we’re only touring mostly in France and Germany and sometimes in Spain and the UK. But I’d love to tour in the US next year if it’s possible. But, I can’t wait for the world to hear our new music and I’m really excited about it. So it’s really cool, I’m happy about everything that’s happening right now.
Following on from your debut album, as we mentioned, it was only released in France, but it got a great response – it sold over 10,000 copies. Did you know at that point that you were on the right track and that you could break out from just the domestic market?
Yeah, because we only sold the previous album in France, but we had a little store, you know, our official website. And I was able to sell this first album to other countries on the internet. So for two years I went to the post office and sold them my albums myself to the UK and the Americans. So I know that some people in other countries could listen to it, but it wasn’t really released and physically distributed in other countries. So yeah, I’m really happy that our international label earMUSIC really appreciated our second album and decided to release it worldwide. It’s a chance for us.
They always say that the second album is the hardest album for an artist. You get that little phrase, the difficult second album. Following on from the success of Hard Blues Shot did you feel that there was a lot of pressure to follow up?
I tried not to think about it because I was just telling myself that if I managed to record an album that we like to play and we like to listen to ourselves with the band then the fans and people will like it too. I just wanted to make and to write something I love and I think we managed to do it. So I didn’t have pressure from the fans or the label or anything. It was just myself, I wanted to be as good as possible.
So what kind of timeframe did the album come together? I mean, had you been writing those songs for a long time or did it happen quickly?
We’ve been writing songs for two years approximately. Some of the songs we were already playing them live for I don’t know, maybe a year. But we tried to keep some exclusive songs because we didn’t want to unveil the whole album before it was released. But yeah, we’ve been writing this for two years and we recorded the album in January and it was released, 10 days ago – almost a year after the recording. So now I feel like it’s already old, you know, we recorded it in January and I just want to write new songs now and think about our third album. I will let some time for people to listen to it and enjoy it first.
And now that the album’s out there in the world and people are hearing it properly. Have you been happy with the feedback you’ve had towards the new material so far?
Yeah, I didn’t have a lot of feedback, but some of the comments I heard are really good. I can’t wait to have more and more comments. But I think I that’s what I was waiting for. So, I can’t wait and we are about to release another single and I’m really, really happy about it for now.
So this album, I just wondered if you could tell us a little bit about what your starting point for the album was musically? Did you have a particular sound or theme in mind for this release?
Not really. I wasn’t thinking about anything. I knew that our style evolved because of the kind of music I was listening to this past year evolved too. When I started guitar, I was listening to a lot more of classic rock bands, like AC/DC, ZZ Top, and Aerosmith. And these past years I’ve been listening to more new bands and young bands of the modern rock scene. Naturally, I tend to do to write songs in the same style that I’m listening to at the moment. So yeah, I wasn’t planning on anything, but obviously, it looks like what I’m listening to. So it’s a bit different from our first album, it’s not as old school as our previous one.
I’ve seen your sound referred to as Southern Hard Blues. Is that the best description of what you would say you were looking at with this record?
I think so. We are not really blues, it’s a rock core. The base is the rock and roll stuff. And then, I’ve always been into country and Southern rock – I like some of the Telecaster licks and the twang of the Telecaster. I like using this kind of guitar. Yeah, I like to mix all of my influences and all of that together. We came up with the name of Southern Hard Blues and I thought that defined well our music.
And so speaking of blues, a recent single from the album is Bad Luck Blues. Could you tell us a little bit about that song and I know you released a video as well? What was the inspiration behind the song and the video?
Yeah, we chose that song because it was the only song that we all agreed on because it’s quite catchy, simple. You have a catchy riff, it’s not really long, and you have a short solo. It has what we expected from a single. So the theme of the song – the bad luck theme is a rock theme I think. It talks about someone that really wants to do things and every time bad luck gets in the way. We all agreed on that song and we are really happy about how it turned out. And we are currently working on our next single.
You’ve also had a lot of success online with your YouTube channel. It’s got 380,000 subscribers. Do you think that that’s been a good platform for you to build a fan base off?
I think it helps, but it’s different from our band and the people who come to our shows. I think that people who are watching my videos on the internet are people all over the world that just have to sit in front of their computer watching free videos. And some of them are not willing to buy some tickets for a show and to go out and go to a rock show – so it’s two different things. But I think it helped us in a way because when we started the band in 2014 or 2013, we kept my name so that the band didn’t come from nowhere. You know, some people already heard my name and I thought it was a good thing to keep my name and maybe it helped us to find some venues and some festivals and some gigs. But, it’s hard. We still have to create a real fan base and we’ve been working on that especially in France for four years and we’ve been touring a lot since the release of our first album in 2017. But building a real audience and a real fan base in every country is hard and it’s harder than getting people to watch your videos on YouTube.
So the band that you’ve got, can you talk us through your band members and how you also met?
Yeah, I first I met Mathieu. He’s the other guitarist of the band. He’s my best friend. We met in 2011 and we became best friends and he’s the one that motivated me to start the band because at that time I was only uploading videos on YouTube. And at some point he told me, you know, music is made to share, to share your passion with people and it’s not just about uploading videos on the internet alone in your bedroom. And at that time I was a bit shy and I was feeling comfortable just making music on my own. But he’s the one that motivated me to start the band. So we started the band around 2013. So I think I started the band almost eight years after having started the guitar. So it’s a long time.
And then, yeah, we started the band and we didn’t have any contacts in the music business. So we posted some ads on the internet to find a drummer and we found Antonin our drummer on the internet and we were really lucky with that. And François our bass player is a common friend. He was the bass player from a friend of mine and so we found each other and we’ve been touring with the same line up for four years and everything works great that way. I want people to see us as a band and I think that it’s working that way. So I’m really happy about that.
You said you’ve been touring a lot in France generally, but I know you’ve got some UK shows coming up before the end of this year in December. So have you toured in the UK before or is this the first time? I know you are half French and half English.
Yeah, unfortunately, my dad never taught me how to speak English and because I have an English father and a French mother and I’ve lived in France all my life my dad always talked to me in French with an English accent. I wish I was better at English. But yeah, we’ve been touring for the first time in the UK last year or last October and it was a great experience. And now we have five gigs coming up in December I think in London, Blackpool, Leeds and Edinburgh. So, I can’t wait to come back. I think it’s going to be great.
So for those who’ve not seen you play live before, what can they expect from one of your shows?
You don’t have to expect what I’m doing on YouTube. We mostly play original songs when we are live with the band – songs from our two albums. We have a couple of covers too and that’s all because I don’t want to play covers. We want to share our music. Yeah, you can expect like a good rock show with great energy, you know, now I think that’s what people want to hear.
Do you have a favourite song to perform live and if so, which song and why?
It’s awkward, but I think the songs that I feel the most comfortable playing are the ones where I don’t have a difficult guitar part. The ones where I can focus on my singing. There’s a song on our new album it’s called River and in this song Mathieu, the other guitarist in the band plays the lead guitar, the solo, and the slide parts. And live, I feel comfortable playing it because I just can focus on my vocals and it’s different. It feels good too.
So have you always known that being a musician was your chosen path?
No, not at all. Because there weren’t any musicians in my family. I started guitar at 14, and I was just playing in my free time. I did some studies then I thought I would be getting a real job. And then when I noticed that I’d got my diploma in France – I don’t know what the equivalent in your country, but I did some studies and I just wanted to play the guitar. I couldn’t do anything else. So I stopped everything else. And, so I just found a little job in a music shop, near my home and then it’s allowed me to have some money. But then I decided to just play the guitar and that’s when I met my manager. Four years ago he told me that he thought I could live from my music. So he started to book us some gigs, more and more gigs, and we released our first album. And it was just recently, like two or three years ago that I realized I could live from my music and it was the best thing of my life. I can’t believe it, yeah, now I’m just playing the guitar – it’s all that matters in my life.
I noticed that you’ve just recently been made an official Gibson artist. How does that make you feel?
I’m grateful and it’s a dream come true. In the beginning, it wasn’t for me because Mathieu, the other guitarist in the band, he’s been playing on Gibson for forever. And then he was the one that got in touch with Gibson to ask for a partnership. And then Gibson told both of us to come and we came to the showroom in Paris. And then we ended up officially endorsed together. So I’m really, really happy about it. All my idols and my favourite guitar players always played on Gibson. So, as I said, it’s a dream come true. I couldn’t expect better than that.
So in terms of your musical tastes what do you listen to when you are kicking back at home?
Yeah, my taste in music evolved throughout the years. When I started guitar, I was really into classic rock bands like AC/DC, ZZ Top, and Aerosmith but these past years I have been listening to more new rock bands and the new rock music scene, like Blackberry Smoke, Black Stone Cherry, Airbourne, Halestorm – these kinds of bands. And I think that’s why our latest album doesn’t sound like the first one because my taste evolved a little, but it’s still rock and roll. But, maybe in a different way, maybe darker or less classic rock. But, yeah now my favourite band I think are bands like Black Stone Cherry, Blackberry Smoke, Airbourne, Tyler Bryant and these kinds of bands – I really like their music.
We’re fast approaching the end of this year with only a few weeks until 2020. I was just wondering, have you got kind of the next 12 months mapped out? Do you know what’s on the cards for next year?
I don’t know – next year we will continue to tour and once we have worked on the new show, with the new setlist, we are going to work on new songs because like I said, I feel like I’ve been playing the songs from our new album for forever. And I’m looking forward to writing new songs and to be working on our next album. And then I hope we can come back to the UK and maybe to the US for the first time. I don’t know. But I’m really looking forward to that.
Burning Bright by Laura Cox is out now via earMUSIC.
Photos: Christophe Crenel