Up and coming multi-national rock act Blues Pills unveil their eagerly anticipated sophomore album.
Lady in Gold was recorded during breaks in the band’s touring schedule over the last two years. Blues Pills sound has matured musically since their debut album, with the group drawing upon some of their more soulful influences fused together with blues rock and psychedelic elements to produce an incredibly fresh sound.
National Rock Review recently caught up with the band’s lead vocalist Elin Larsson whilst in the UK to talk about their new album, touring, and the band’s creative process.
NRR:Thank you so much for taking the time to speak to us here at National Rock Review, we really appreciate. So you are currently out on tour across Europe at the moment, I know you’ve been playing on the festival circuit. How have the shows been going so far?
Elin: They’ve been going great. We’ve been playing on some very big festivals in Germany for example and as well in Denmark and tomorrow, we are playing in Steelhouse Festival in Wales. So we are just enjoying the moment (laughing) and the joy of playing these kinds of shows.
NRR:You are about to release your new album Lady In Gold on the 5th August. I was just wondering if you could tell us a little bit about the album and the inspiration behind it?
Elin: Yeah, on this album we kind of got a bit more of a wide influence range. It’s also more of a fictional story on this album, which was pretty fun to do and we got inspired lyrically wise from that by Kate Bush, who would always write stories. It was a bit different and there’s more soul, but it still has the blues rock roots of course. So yeah (laughing).
NRR:I noticed on this album, in particular, there’s also a bit more of a soulful sound. Particularly with the addition of the backing vocalists. I was just wondering which soul artists would you say have influenced your sound in particular?
Elin: Yeah, I could say singing wise Aretha Franklin was my biggest influence when I was growing up, but also for this album The Temptations, The Undisputed Truth definitely the album Cosmic Truth, and yeah Marvin Gaye. So there’s a lot.
I mean I think what soul singers and rock singers have in common and blues singers is that you really have to give it all. You know it’s no holding back and you know you have to be good at it and dynamic singing wise and the style wise and have the groove basically. For me, it was kind of a natural development because that’s kind of why I started to sing you know.
NRR:You recently released your first video from the album which is the title track Lady In Gold. I believe you worked with Johan Bååth on the video. I was just wondering what was that like and could you tell us a little bit about the concept behind the video?
Elin:Yeah, we actually recorded two videos in 24 hours in this old fallen castle in Stockholm skärgård which is some islands in Stockholm. It was owned by this hockey pro, he doesn’t play anymore but he used to play professional hockey. He had a huge family, they had like 16 kids or something and they had this castle.
The thing was they couldn’t do anything with this castle, so nothing was touched basically downstairs. So when we walked in the first time it was like someone had put plates and the dishes out and they had been standing there for like 30 years or something and dust everywhere, so it was really cool.
But it was so cold, and I hope you can see that in the video but it was like so cold, so we had to have these sleeping bags over us, yeah there was no heating. I think we wanted a bit of the American Horror Story. Have you seen American Horror Story the TV show?
Elin: We wanted a bit of that, and a bit of the creepiness and like how it is in the intro of the TV show. It was also kind of Johan Bååth’s idea. It was so cool to work with those kinds of artists you know because he’s been working with quite famous people and he’s a great producer I think.
NRR:That’s great, and the video looks brilliant. When I first heard that song, as soon the video was released I literally could not stop listening to it. I must have listened to it ten times in a row.
Elin: Oh wow (laughing).
NRR:I was just wondering, what’s your favourite track on the album. Do you have a particular favourite and if so why is that track your favourite song?
Elin: It kind of changes a lot, but I would say “You Gotta Try.” I think it was because also why we recorded with a choir because we sing the same note in the song and it was so powerful.
The song you know, for me it’s the liberation of music and being able to sing to get that spiritual feeling when you are singing together. I’m not like Christian or anything, but it’s kind of it almost feels like you get healed when you are singing together. I got that when we recorded the choir for that song. It’s like kind of a happy song to make people feel like they have to keep living and keep finding what they want to do and believe in what they want to, so I like that song.
NRR:I read somewhere that your record company pretty much gave you artistic freedom on this record. I was just wondering how did it feel to have that level of freedom in the creative process and did it allow you to try anything different that you maybe didn’t get the opportunity to do on your debut album?
Elin: Yeah, because we recorded it over a time period of two years, so we could try a lot of different stuff. Like it’s been finding little details that could fit in, like in “Won’t Go Back” when I’m doing some rhythm … I do like an (Elin sings part of the song), like stuff like that, you know like small details which we really couldn’t do, or we didn’t have time to do that on the first album.
Yeah, and it was also like finding more rare melodies and just experimenting a bit, but overall I think two years is a long time (laughing). I think you shouldn’t rush music or art when you feel you are done, you are done basically.
NRR:Well, it was definitely worth the wait.
Elin: Thank you.
NRR:On the record, you also cover Tony Joe White’s “Elements and Things.” I just wondered what made you choose that song in particular to cover for the album?
Elin: We started to play “Elements and Things” like I think when the first album came out two years ago, just to extend our set and also because it was a good song. It kinda came back to me when we were in the studio. I heard Tony Joe White in my teens.
So we were like maybe we just jam it and then we kinda said let’s try it because sometimes we have to play X minutes, so we have to fill out the set. The thing was people that liked it so much and they also wrote please record “Elements and Things.”
Then we thought for the fans we should we do that. I hope Tony Joe White likes it (laughing) if he listens to it, but obviously I think his version is, of course, is the better one, but I think ours is, especially live it’s great fun to play and it’s a lot of feeling and people start dancing, it’s cool.
NRR:Just to flip that question, if you could choose any artist to cover one of your songs, which song and artist would you choose?
Elin: Oh wow, (laughing) I don’t know. I will take either Sharon Jones or Charles Bradley covering “High Class Woman.”
NRR: What’s the one album in your record collection that you couldn’t live without?
Elin: Right now, I can’t live without Graham Nash “Songs For Beginners” and also Joni Mitchell “Blue,” because when I come back from touring because we play so many shows and we see great bands, but it’s a lot of rock and metal, which is nice. But when you get home you kinda want to go to more of the acoustic stuff and more chilled stuff, so right now it’s that.
NRR: You’ve also got a UK headline tour coming up later this year. It seems like you’ve built up quite a following in the UK, you must be really pleased with the response you’ve been getting over here?
Elin: Yeah, it’s been like incredible over here, and we are so thankful for that. English isn’t my native language, so it’s very flattering, and especially since we are playing blues rock and I mean the Brit’s and the UK are very known for their blues-rock groups, British rock groups so it’s flattering and we are happy that people enjoy our music here.
NRR: What else do you have in store for the rest of this year?
Elin: Yeah, we are doing some more shows on this festival summer tour we are doing. Then we have one month off and we are gonna practice that month until we hit Europe and the UK. Then it’s Christmas so I think this Christmas we will be off. Then we will maybe write some more songs. Our bass player, we are together helping him build a studio so we probably will be doing that as well, whenever we get a chance.
NRR: That all sounds excellent like I said we are loving the album, and we are really looking forward to catching you when you tour in the UK later this year. Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us.
Elin: Thank you so much.
Lady In Gold is out now via Nuclear Blast Records. The Blues Pills will be touring the UK in November.
Blues Pills UK and Ireland Tour Dates
November 01 – Wolverhampton – Slade Rooms
November 02 – Classic Grand – Glasgow
November 03 – Voodoo Lounge – Dublin
November 04 – Club Academy – Manchester
November 05 – London – Koko
November 06 – Bristol – Marble Factory
The Blues Pills
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