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After performing only about ninety minutes prior to the interview, we chatted to one half of UK band Blood Red Shoes about their schedule, which involves their upcoming tour of Australia. Being rather excited for an Australian summer, Steven Ansell answered a few questions from Cologne, Germany.
How is touring with The Gaslight Anthem?
Steven Ansell: They just finished their set. It’s a hell of a lot of fun! We haven’t been touring that long, only around 10 days, but they are a really cool bunch of guys to get along with. Some of them are big shows; especially in England. It is way bigger than when we were playing by ourselves because we’ve got a chance to hit an audience of some sort. I’ve been really enjoying it. It’s funny because some people in the audience f**kin’ hated it and some people loved it. Some people are like “what the f**k is this?” I quite like that. I enjoy the people who piss others off, that’s just as much fun as people liking you. It’s a party tour. Everyone is having a really good time and it has a good vibe. My favourite show so far was Brussels. It was definitely the most wild and has been the loudest one too.
What do you make of all the trouble that you’ve been known to run into at your shows?
SA: Yeah, you know, people like to put that s**t in the press for things that sound exciting. It’s just a bunch of talk man; I think that happened twice. You don’t want trouble to happen. It sneaks up on you. You’re just trying to have a good time and play some rock ‘n’ roll. Stuff can go a bit crazy now and then when you least expect it. I’m hoping that this tour is going to be great. I don’t really plan to be arrested in Australia.
Where did the idea of the In Time to Voices come from?
SA: We were listening to a lot of old stuff when we were making this record. There was a lot of 70s, like Fleetwood Mac, Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath. We really listened to a lot of classics when we made this record. I can hear the influence of those things. It’s a strange thing because you don’t always know what influences you. You just kind of do it … Just when you look back; you can hear a lot of that.
This is the first record where we’ve wanted to make a kind of studio record. We didn’t try any of the songs live. We wanted to use the studio and all the pegs that come with it: layers and things that we couldn’t do live, and just indulge ourselves. It was a really liberating feeling. We also learnt a lot about where to draw the line. Some of the stuff wasn’t necessary in the studio so we would take it out.
Making this record was quite a momentous thing for us. It was bigger than our others. We had a lot of ideas and learnt a lot about ourselves, about what works and what doesn’t work, what we can and can’t do. We worked with the same producer (Mike Crossey, Arctic Monkeys) because we’ve been working with him for so long. He was able to understand us and we had things done very quickly because there was no foreplay in getting to know eachother (laughs). From day one in the studio with Mike, he had the attitude of getting down to work.
Tell me about a nice thing you did for a fan through your Facebook page.
SA: There was a dude that couldn’t make it to a show and he had already bought tickets. We told him to just come to another one. That’s what I like about social media. You can have that direct contact with people that like your band and want to see you. Without it, people would have no idea. Now someone can send us a message and sort things out. I like that directness of communication. I like that we can treat people properly.
Do you like being compared to The White Stripes?
SA: You know what: I used to get really pissed off about that. Whose purpose is it to be a two-piece boy and girl? You’ve got a band because you want to be good. It pissed me off because I thought it was lazy and The White Stripes are a traditional-sounding clean band for me: the sort of blues-rock thing that we are not. Now I don’t really care anymore. We’ve played like 700 shows. We’ve made three albums, made EPs, and we have our sound and have done our own thing. The comparison does not bother me now. I just think “whatever”… To be honest, now that I have listened to some White Stripes’ records, I’m not in love with them, but there are a lot worse bands to be compared to. They are a genuine band and I like Jack White’s attitude a lot, so I don’t mind it too much now. I made my peace with it (laughs).
How did the first single Cold come about?
SA: It’s cool that people think it’s a hit. It’s definitely the most popular song off the record. We started that song off as a bit of a jam in a sound check when we were on tour, and we just evolved it and it became the song that you know. For a long time, it was just a guitar riff and drums. We eventually found melodies and then we came up with new sections for it. When we played the record we sat back and thought ‘that one really sticks out; that’s going to be a good single’.
People have really caught onto it, which is cool. My favourite thing about that song is that it’s fast and it’s really cool to do a song that has basically a hip hop tempo with heavy guitars in it. That was fun to play with; it’s something we haven’t really done much and I can’t wait to be doing more of.
What can we expect on your debut tour of Australia?
SA: You can just expect a loud-as-f**k, rock ‘n’ roll band: no clever lights, no backing track, no fancy stuff on stage and no tricks, just a total balls-out rock ‘n’roll show. We’re just trying to get everybody to move, totally honest and direct.
I’m looking forward to playing with Tame Impala (at Pyramid Rock). They’re a band that I’m really excited for. It’s New Year’s Eve as well; it’s like a big party time. If we have time, we can do anything that anyone shows us because we have never played there or even been there as tourists for a holiday. I could try surfing if we have time. I’ll definitely be into it. I would at least like to try and hang out – see what you Aussies do for fun!
In Time to Voices is out now.
Blood Red Shoes debut Australian Tour Dates:
Sunday, 30 December
Peats Ridge Festival, Glenworth Valley
Monday, 31 December
Pyramid Rock Festival, Phillip Island
Thursday, 3 January
The Hi-Fi, Melbourne
Friday, 4 January
The Hi-Fi, Sydney