Blues Pills Release Their Debut Album
The new retro rock sensation Blues Pills have released their debut album today. The Swedish-American-French quartet has released three EPs so far and played some large festivals this year already. This is quite remarkable as the band’s first full-length album is only out now. The album combines all the strengths of the EPs and the live performances combining influences that range as wide as Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Janis Joplin and Fleetwood Mac. Blues Pills is certainly an up-and-coming band. With the support of Nuclear Blast and genre greats like renowned producer Dan Alsterberg, Blues Pills seem to have a glorious career ahead.
I had the chance to have a chat with vocalist Elin Larsson earlier this week.
Marc: Your debut album is going to be released on Friday. These must be exciting times for you. How does that feel?
Elin: I’m kind of nervous. But I’m really excited as well. It’s a huge step for the band because it is our first album. I’m really happy about the album and the guys are as well very happy.
Marc: Tell me a little bit more about the album. How did you get the songs together?
Elin: The album is groovy. A lot groovier than most people will expect. It has a lot of different songs on it, quite heavy ones and softer ones. We recorded the whole album analogue. It has this warm feeling. We tried to capture our live sound. We recorded bass and drums together live and overdubbed the guitar and the vocals. Because you record it analogue you cannot really cut and paste. You cannot take a lot of takes. You gotta listen and trust your ears and your feelings that this is the take. I think this is important for our band to record it this way.
Marc: Not a lot of bands record albums this way anymore. So you really try to work as a team and create that live feeling?
Elin: Yeah. I mean we did some overdubs with guitars and so on. But you still gotta play the whole thing through. You cannot stop and cut when you record on tape. That’s important for us because that is honest and it is real.
Marc: How do you approach song writing?
Elin: So far I and Zack [Anderson] collaborate mainly. I don’t know why this happened. Dorian, our guitarist, is really young. He turned 19 yesterday. He’s been doing school at the same time. He had to focus on school while playing in the band. This is very important for him. I mean it’s important to finish high school and graduate. In the beginning Cory had visa problems to get into Sweden. That’s why so far most of the song writing has been done by Zack and me. But when we have a song we always show it to the other guys and they have their influence and add their solos and so on. I think the next record we will be more working as a team, everyone together.
Marc: Do you have a favourite song on that album?
Elin: I don’t know. It depends on how your mood is. Sometimes I like “Little Sun” most because it is a very personal song that I wrote for my friend. I like playing that one live. It has that electric feeling to it. It’s a special song. Then I also like to listen to “Gypsy” because I get so happy from that song. So it really depends on the mood I’m in.
Marc: How would you describe your music to someone who has never heard you?
Elin: I would describe it as a heavy, soul, rock, blues, psychedelic music with lots of groove.
Marc: What are your main personal influences?
Elin: It is so different. When I was a little kid the first album that I bought was a Joe Cocker album. I was really blown away by his voice. Just his harsh, strong bluesy whiskey voice was what I really liked as a kid. But also I listened to mainstream music because it was just everywhere. As a kid you can’t see behind that. I also found records in my dad’s collection that had a lot of soul songs on it. When I started listening to it I was also blown away. These were singers like Aretha Franklin and Nina Simone; that kind of powerful, emotional voice. Aretha Franklin is one of my main influences. She has a lot of Christian songs and I am not Christian but I think her voice is just wonderful. And then there is also Janis Joplin of course. In my teens I was hanging out with the metal dudes in my class and they were showing me a lot of music. I also listened to The Doors. But everything changed when my friend introduced me to Black Sabbath. That was a big thing for me because if that hadn’t happened I wouldn’t be doing this music and I wouldn’t be here today.
Marc: You have all these different influences but you still get a lot of attention from the heavy metal scene. You played a lot in front of metal crowds. In fact you have just played some large festivals like Hellfest and RockHard Festival. How does it feel to play in front of a metal crowd?
Elin: It feels great. I’m so happy that the metal crowd has opened their arms to Blues Pills. I think it’s pretty cool. After the shows I always try to meet the fans and have a chat with them. I’m a social person. So I always want to meet new people and talk to people who listen to our music because I am really thankful. Sometimes it happens that these huge metal guys in their thirties come up to me and tell me that our music made them cry. That is the biggest compliment you can get.
Marc: The band is from different countries, even from different continents. How did you actually get together?
Elin: Our bassist and drummer are from the US and our guitar player is French. 2011 I lost my job in Sweden. I had saved some money so I rented out my apartment and went to California. I always wanted to do that. I had been working since I was 16 alongside school. I was kind of tired. I met Zack and Cory in California. They were living there at that time. First we became friends. Eventually me and Zack exchanged songs that we wrote and started to play. Then we started writing songs together. We showed them to Cory and recorded these songs. I am a shy Swedish girl and didn’t want to put these songs on YouTube but the guys wanted to do it. So we did. And then we got offered a record release on this small Swedish label. We also got offered to tour. And we were like ‘Oh shit. Let’s do it.’ We were only three at that time. Zack and Cory shared the guitar part at that time. Zack and Cory used to play in another band before for six years. They were on the road since they were 16. They met this guy Dorian in France because Dorian’s band opened for Zack’s and Cory’s band. They were blown away by him. At that time Dorian was only 14 years old. They kept in touch and became friends. When we were offered this tour we asked if he wanted to join the band and play with us on that tour. He was like ‘Yeah’. It was in the summer time. So there was no school. Then we met in Sweden and went on this first tour. After that we just knew we had something special. For me it didn’t come through playing with other musicians but they all had. There was this rare connection I felt with no one else before. Eventually we all moved to Sweden. Cory had some visa problems in the beginning but it all worked out fine in the end.
Marc: What are your immediate plans after the release of the album?
Elin: Actually on the release date we are going to play a festival in Rome. Then we are going to have a bunch of other festival during the summer. We are booked for eleven or twelve at the moment. Some of these shows are dream shows like Hellfest. I can’t even really understand that we played there. Then we are going to do a tour as a support with our label mates The Vintage Caravan in fall. We also have other tours in the planning like a Scandinavian tour, UK tour and a French tour. That’s what’s coming up and then we go back into the studio and record the second album. We had so much fun with our producer Don Alsterberg. He is a great guy. We all wanna go back and record the next album.
Marc: Do you have any plans to come back to Australia in the near future?
Elin: I really hope so because Australia was really cool to tour. It is quite different to Europe. The audience were really into the music. It was a great experience to see everything around there. It was really cool. We hope we can come back soon with our new album this time.
Marc: Thanks Elin. It was great to talk to you. All the best for the future.