If you were around during CMJ last year, hopefully you came across the UK power duo called Blood Red Shoes. Maybe, you heard their tune, "It's Getting Boring By the Sea" in Scott Pilgrim vs The World. It could be you saw them last year on their first full U.S. tour. More than anything, you've been spinning 2008's Box of Secrets or their most recent release, Fire Like This. Then you don't need to me to tell you how awesome and intense they are.
Laura-Mary Carter and Steven Ansell make up the team, who are based in Brighton, U.K. That's where I spoke to drummer Steven about the latest record, finding their best sound, touring the States and the wonders of GPS. I would like to welcome Steven to this space.
I've never been to Brighton. What's can I do there?
There are two American cities that Brighton gets compared to, Portland and San Francisco. It's kind of just a hippie town full of drop outs.
So are you a dropout?
No. I just came here to start a band. Laura is technically a dropout. She left art school to be in a band.
What tends to happen with young bands is that they tour relentlessly for their first album. So they end up playing their materials for three or four years. Were you anxious to start working on the second album after you were done promoting Box of Secrets?
I wouldn't say anxious. There was a certain time during the touring of the first album that we just wanted to play new material live. That was more of the impulse than getting to a recording studio, but we did play live the songs that eventually made it onto the second record.
Both albums were kind of made the same way. We had been playing live, then when we started recording we wrote new material. Then for this one, we had some songs we had already been playing live, then we wrote new songs for the album.
On the first album you established your sound. On the second record, did you want to try new things?
Actually, we needed to established our sound on the second record. The first album we fucked up a few things. We felt we could have done a better job. For the second album, we pushed certain elements of what we do.
The second album is much more consistent I think.
Oh, me too. We just have better songs. It feels like a more complete record. Box of Secrets ... I don't know ... we didn't know what we were doing.
Do you two write together or seperately?
We write together. We'll jam together and gradually we'll piece words together. No one will write a song on their own and bring it to practice.
What I've always liked about your band is that it's the two of you, but you sound like four or five people. Is that your aim?
Yes, thank you. I'm glad you think that. It's just a fluke that it's just the two of us. The chemestry worked when we started playing together. Our sound was never intentially minimal. We wanted to sound as huge as fucking possible.
When I tell people about your band, I mention how loud you are. Your sound is that you like to contrast these really loud pasages against more simple elements like on "Light It Up."
It is easy to fall into the trap when you're jamming. It gives the song a direction before you start laying out lyrics. Actually, on the next record we want to change that up and fuck around with it.
On "Heart Stink," you share vocals. When you record, do try to mix up who sings what?
Up until this point, no, but on the next record we're going try and experiment with that in our practice space here in Brighton. How we did it is whoever wrote the lyrics sings it. If one of us has a good idea for the vocals, then they can go with it. It's all spur of the moment
How's the creative relationship between you and Laura. Is she better at certain things or do you tend to follow her lead on guitar?
Yeah. We start everything with a guitar riff and I jam on that riff. We do tend to have different ideas on where the song could go, but most of the time we're on the same wavelength. Those tend to be my favorite songs.
What are you favorite songs?
"Colours Fade" is my favorite. "When We Wake" also turned out great.
You've used the same producer of both albums, Mike Crossey. I'm sure there's a comfort zone there.
Completely. There's a level of trust as well. We didn't have to forge a new relationship on the second record with another producer. We basically can skip the first date.
When can we expect a four-minute drum solo on a song?
[Laughs] I don't think that's every going to happen, mate.
You don't have a little Phil Collins in you?
Nooooo. My favorite drum solo in the history of drum solos is on the song "Puss" by The Jesus Lizard. It's about 10 seconds long.
Along with everyone else, I first heard about you with "It's Getting Boring By The Sea." You tired of that song yet?
So far, no, but I'm getting there. [laughs] It's not one of the earliest songs. What I find is when you start to get fatigued by your setlist, just put in one or two new songs, and the rest will be more exciting. Honestly, I can see a time where we don't play that song anymore. It won't fit into our newer stuff.
In certain places, we are best known for that song. It makes it more of a chore. When you feel that people are just waiting to hear that song, it can be a problem. It makes you not want to play at all. In others, it's one of many that they can sing along to. As there some good crowd reaction to other songs, then we're good with it.
Well, that song got you some notoriety here because it's in the Scott Pilgrim movie.
That did us a huge amount of favors. It gave us the opportunity to do a proper tour of the States. We would meet people who came to show because they saw the movie and heard the song.
So you can't hate on the song that much.
True. We never had a label in the states until the movie came out. Edgar Wright (the film's director) told us that the soundtrack album made it onto the Billboard charts. I said, "Well, fuck! That's pretty handy." Everything fell together to release the album in the states and do the tour.
You did a massive amount of touring in 2010. I'm looking at your past tour dates and you've been to places in Germany and Poland I've never heard of.
What would happen is that we'll be in the van driving and the GPS will take us through these places where there are no roads. We would driving along, then we would just see a field in front of us. We found out later that the road hasn't been built yet.
Has the crowd reaction between consistent when you play these far off places in Europe or even in the U.S.?
America was up and down in terms of the crowd sizes. San Francisco was a huge turn out, about 400. Then we went down to Santa Barbara and 25 people showed up. The reaction was really encouraging though. I felt people gave us a chance without exception. Even better we sold out our CDs at one point.
I was at your first American show in 2007 at Highline Ballroom, you played before Biffy Clyro and Enter Shakari. You were the best band on that bill.
[laughs] We really lucked out on that. We were thinking that this would give us a record deal in the U.S. and open a lot of doors and we'll be able to come back. Then nothing happened. That sucked.
You did eventually came back for CMJ. You had some bad luck at Le Poisson Rouge. I heard you tossed over your drum set.
That was amazing. It was our first night at CMJ. Everything was fucked. Their guy just fucked up everything. We started playing and we just taking the piss out of our songs. The room wasn't full and there was just a cold vibe in the room. I just got fed up and threw my drum set onto the floor piece by piece. Our manager walked out on us and started freaking out.
That's rock 'n' roll. Next time set it on fire.
You got any favorite drummers?
Yeah, Bill Ward from Black Sabbath. When people go for old school drummers they usually say John Bonham or Keith Moon. Bill Ward doesn't get enough props. I also really admire John Davis from Q and Not U.
Last questions, any plans for this year?
Right now, we're jamming and writing for a new record as best we can. We have a small recording space here in Brighton where we can make our own demos. We're aiming for September to record.