Blues Pills Interview with Dorian Sorriaux
Blues Pills is one of those bands that get a lot of attention from the metal scene yet they are far away from being a metal act. Signed to Nuclear Blast they got the chance to play in front of some of the largest metal crowds at prestigious festivals like Hellfest. Besides these shows Blues Pills have toured relentlessly throughout Europe. With their second album ‘Lady In Gold’ about to be released the quartet has set their eyes on conquering the rest of the world. I had a chance to catch up with young guitar master Dorian Sorriaux.
Marc: Your new album ‘Lady In Gold’ will be released in early August. Compared to your debut album it sounds there is less a focus on blues and rather an inclusion of other elements like rock and soul. Was that a deliberate decision to include these elements?
Dorian: I would say this record is less blues rock. The first record is pretty much blues rock. In my opinion the first record is more like a retro rock album. With the new album we mixed all our influences together. So there’s lots of soul mixed with psychedelic soul – so there are no horn sections or so. Overall it’s more personal. We mixed more of our influences together to make something that is more Blues Pills. Whereas the first record was really more blues rock, which was great on its own, but for the second record we felt we wanted to bring in a wider range of influences of what we love.
Marc: You have developed the album over quite some time during your relentless touring cycle. How do you write songs and work together as a band?
Dorian: This record was written in the studio. That was quite a different process compared to the first record because the first record was written before we went into the studio. Mainly Elin and Zach wrote the record. Then we arranged it together as a band in the studio and then recorded it. This time we had only some ideas when we went into the studio. All of us together as well as the producer were making the songs basically from a raw idea. In a way everybody was more involved. Everybody was in the same room sharing ideas and bouncing off of each other. It was a very different process for this record. It was basically back and forth between studio and tour. After three weeks in the studio it really feels you wanna go out and be in the sun a little bit. It was nice to do the back and forth but it also made it quite an intense and hard process.
For us as a band it’s a great compliment to be able to go from a metal festival to a more mainstream, more blues festival and still be well received by all the different crowds.
Marc: You are signed to Nuclear Blast and you get to play in front of metal crowds. How does it feel for you in front of metal crowds?
Dorian: It’s kind of interesting. None of us has ever been so much into metal and I don’t consider Blues Pills a metal band in any way. I don’t really find myself listening to metal music that often. Sometimes I wanna listen to something riffy that is quite heavy but that doesn’t happen so often. It’s been great to play festivals like Rock Hard and Hellfest. On all those festivals we’ve been really well received. So it’s been great. It’s kind of strange because it feels we’re so much softer on those festivals but then when we play a blues festival it feels we’re way too heavy. It feels we fit more into the heavy rock. The crowds have been really nice to us at those festivals. As long as the people enjoy it it’s great whatever the genre or the name of the festival. If the people come to see us play and enjoy the show it’s really great. For us as a band it’s a great compliment to be able to go from a metal festival to a more mainstream, more blues festival and still be well received by all the different music crowds.
Marc: The album will be out on 5th August. In true Blues Pills fashion you will tour extensively. You’re booked for some of the summer festivals and will follow that up with a European tour. What are your plans for 2017?
Dorian: At the moment 2017 is a bit blurry. Nothing is set in stone and we haven’t talked about it so much yet. I know that it’s gonna be a lot of touring again just as this year. Hopefully we’ll get to go to new territories. We haven’t been playing in the US. That’s always on our mind. We’ve been fortunate enough to be able to tour through Europe that much. It’s a big continent and there are lots of places to go. That has kept us busy and prevented us from going overseas. Hopefully next year we’ll find the time. At the moment it’s in discussion.
Marc: Is there any chance that we will see you in Australia?
Dorian: I would love to. We were in Australia on 2013. There is nothing planned at the moment. Tours can always come up and I hope we get the chance to play in Australia again. It would be fun.
Musically we are all on the same page.
Marc: How did you get started playing guitar and what are your main influences?
Dorian: I got started when I was about 8 or 9. It kinda started when my dad played ZZ Top cassette tapes in the car when I was about 4. These are the roots of my love for music. ZZ Top are really a big influence in the beginning and they still are. This was really the opening of the world of blues rock music for me. As far as guitar players Rory Gallagher is quite a big influence. When I was about 10 or 11 I discovered him. I remember I put on the ‘Live At Montreux’ DVD. I could just see how he was living his music. That felt really real to me. Peter Green is another big influence. There are a few more guitar players that really influenced me especially regarding blues rock.
Marc: The four band members of Blues Pills bring together a lot of different influences. How do you bring that together and decide on the direction a song should take?
Dorian: It just kinda feels right. With this record we would be all together with our instruments sharing ideas and just start to play. Musically we are all on the same page more or less. We know when something feels right. Sometimes we change things in a song and then we all say ‘that’s good’. We were very fortunate to be in the studio when writing the songs. We were recording while we were playing so we could listen back with the producer. We would play the song with the arrangement that we had and then we would listen to it so we could tell which part didn’t feel that strong. Then we tried to figure it out. Sometimes the song gets trashed. Sometimes it gets changed completely. The second track of the album ‘Little Preacher Boy’ started as a jam. It was not even an idea. We just started playing that song and then Elin started to sing the melodies. This was a moment when we were definitely on the same page. Then of course we arranged it. It really depends. Usually we can feel if the song is strong enough.
Marc: Do you record the final version together as a band or are the different instruments recorded individually?
Dorian: Basically for the final version we all play together. Usually we re-do the vocals and the guitars so we focus on getting the bass and the drums right. Sometimes we keep the songs as they are. On one song we couldn’t recreate it so we kept the song as it was.
Marc: Live seems to be the topic for Blues Pills anyway. What do you actually prefer: the big stage at a festival or the more intimate club atmosphere?
Dorian: It depends. Big crowds of course are very impressive. That brings you that kind of emotion. Sometimes I miss the smaller club where the people are really close. One thing I really like is when the crowd is quite close to the stage so that we can feel the crowd, that it doesn’t feel like the crowd is in another place and that we’re all together. That’s the kind of feeling that can be missing on bigger stages. Sometime I’m really happy when I see we play a smaller club. The front row will be just right in front of us, no barriers, no security. But both are nice. On bigger stages you typically get a better sound because there are more monitors and a better sound system. But I do like when I can feel the crowd quite close.