Blood Red Shoes Interview

21st May 2008

The birth of Blood Red Shoes came about nearly four years ago, after two bands, Lady Muck and Cat On Form, wound down their activities. This left an ex-member from each band, Steven Ansell and Laura-Mary Carter, looking to each other for their musical outlet.

The collaboration of the two formulated the band that is, Blood Red Shoes. We fast forward now to May 2008 and after a heady first three years of touring, writing and releasing singles, Blood Red Shoes have cumulated their music into a debut album, Box of Secrets, released on the V2 label. David Osbon delved into Laura’s world whilst the band toured throughout April and got the full scoop.

Where did you record the album, Box of Secrets? Who was the producer?

We did it in Wales at a studio called Monnow Valley…it was really out in the middle of nowhere. We co-produced it with Mike Crossey who was great, he really helped us get the sound down just how we wanted it.

How many countries are you hoping to release the album in?

Everywhere. Everywhere that will have us.

Does your record contract allow you to concentrate on future E.Ps or will we be seeing only L.Ps in the future from BRS? I remember reading that you favour singles to albums, does that still hold true?

We can do what we like really – we’re actually planning an EP for later this year already funnily enough. Should have 3 or 4 new songs on it. I don’t want to assure anyone it’ll be out when we say, because things always seem to take longer than they should when we tour so much, but we’d like to get it done as soon as possible.

Do you plan to do more promo videos to promote the new album?

Yeh we’re gonna release one more single and make a video to go along with it. The song will be This is not for you, it’ll be the last single from the album before we move onto new stuff.

Do you feel more pressure now that you are signed to a record label like V2 or has some of the pressure been taken off you now that V2 can take control of the non music making decisions?

I don’t really feel any more pressure. I feel more stressed because there’s more work to do – we don’t actually allow our label to make many decisions in reality, they mostly just press the record and get it in shops. We’ve made decisions about what singles, in what order, laura-mary did all of the artwork for everything and we plan out our touring schedule together etc….basically because the band exists on a grander scale and is known in more countries, there’s a lot more for us to do! So it is pretty tiring but I don’t really see it as pressure.

As a good number of tracks have been on older E.Ps , did you re-record those tracks for the album? In Artrocker Mag.(feb 2007) you hinted that the album would be all new tracks, what changed your mind?

That art rocker review was way off….usually they’re pretty good but that interview there were loads of misquotes. I mean we said we wanted to put as much new stuff as possible but we didn’t say it’d be exclusively new material. We would have been idiots not to put you bring me down or it’s getting boring by the sea on there. That was never the intention. We used 3 or 4 older songs then the rest were really fresh, which we always thought would be a good balance to it.

Do you both have favourite Blood Red Shoes tracks?

Yeh, we both really like This Is Not For You as our favourite song from the album…we also really like the new songs we’re just working on, unsurprisingly!

Will you be playing anything new while on your current tour that the fans haven’t heard at previous gigs? Any new songs not on the album?

On this tour we’re not playing the new songs yet – we’ve dug out some b-sides and songs we play only very rarely but we’re saving the new stuff until it’s in really good shape.

Steven, are you still sick during gigs?

Yeh but not as much. I was sick 2 nights ago in Northampton actually. All over the mic, it was disgusting.

As I know that you love to play live over anything else, do you ever fear that you may burn out without ever realising it? Is it something you have thought about?

Yeh we do! And we have to stop sometimes and just say no to shows. That’s something we’ve become very aware of recently because we’ve had a few nights where we shouldn’t have been playing – we just didn’t want to be there, and I never want to get on a stage and play and not be 100% into it, it becomes kind of a lie. So we’re trying to be smart with it now.

Best gig experience you have played so far? Carling Tent at Reading Festival?

Yeah probably…or maybe the London calling festival in Holland last year.

Still shoplifting?

Actually yes. Tho I don’t really have a reason to do so, but I got so used to it before that I can’t stop. Besides I don’t really like paying through the nose for various goods from chain shops. Who gives a shit if you steal from those people, they’re fucking everyone over in the name of profit maximization anyways.

Do you play any other instruments? Any that you would like to play?

Yeh I can play guitar and piano. I’d really like to learn cello more than anything. cello and trumpet in fact. Laura-mary also plays drums and piano….and a bit of harmonica I recently found out.

Being in a band do you find yourself more critical of other music & other bands? Do you find you music tastes broaden as you experience new countries when touring?

I’m definitely very critical of other music and other bands…I’ve always been like that tho, even when I wasn’t in a band. If you love something a lot then you end up having quite high standards – I’m obsessed with music and bands, so when I see it being done badly it really gets me, it’s like ruining the art form which has changed my life. So I get pretty over the top when I criticize, because I feel so passionately about it. I think my music taste has definitely broadened through experiences in this band – not so much from travelling to other places but more because we exist in a different world to my old bands. Mostly I was interested in underground music from UK and USA and that was the majority of what was on my radar…in this band I’m much more aware of the mainstream/”indie”/NME/mtv universe than I was before. And although the vast majority of that world is fucking tripe, I have found music that I really like that previously I probably would have written off/not bothered to hear because it was too “mainstream”.

Your first record you ever bought?

Bad by Michael Jackson

Last record you bought?

The Birthday Party live album, can’t remember what it’s called but it’s them playing live in Germany.

Drummers that sing lead vocals are a rare thing these days. The last band I saw live that had the lead sung by the drummer I think was a UK punk band called Snuff. Steven is it harder than you make it look?

Ha ha I remember snuff, I went to see them! Singing and drumming took a lot of practice, I wasn’t very good to start with. I had a head start because I was used to playing guitar and singing in my last band…drums and singing is harder but it is just a case of practice. Sounds dumb I know, but it’s true, there are no tricks to it, just practising.

The first drummer in a band that made me sit up & take notice was Stewart Copeland of The Police. Who was/is your drumming hero(s) Steven?

I don’t really know. I definitely always paid attention to drums in music, to be honest it’s pretty strange it took me this long to pick it up properly as an instrument since my early memories of music are based around singing vocal melodies, but also tapping along to songs and playing air drums…I grew up around a lot of rock music that had big drum sounds, cheesy stuff like Bryan Adams or Robert Palmer…but that big sound makes an impression when you’re 9 so the seeds were probably sewn back then. My favourite drummer is certainly Richard Davis from q and not u. Dave Grohl is an obvious one but again, he made an impression on me quite early and has definitely influenced how I play despite being essentially a pretty straight up rock drummer.

Laura are all your guitar heroes male? Or do you look up to female guitar players more than males? A healthy mix of the two? Do you think lead guitar is the most male stylised instrument that a female can play with regards to its history?

No my guitar heroes are people like Kat Bjelland from Babes in Toyland, PJ Harvey, Josh Homme, Nick Zinner from YYY’s, John Reis (speedo) from Hot Snakes…so a mixture of male and female. I don’t really look up to female guitar players more than male, but female guitarists definitely made more of an impression on me when I was younger. I think electric guitar is definitely seen as a more male instrument, there are a lot more female acoustic guitarists than electric guitarists.

Do you feel that women who have strong positions in music & play in bands are still looked upon as a rarity & can suffer from the press that like to label women in music as more a gimmick than a pioneer?

Yes and no. There are certain musicians that people take really seriously and look up to, like PJ Harvey, but she’s been established for so long that she’s overcome the “gimmick” thing. But yeah some bozos definitely don’t take women in bands seriously.

New album Box of Secrets is out now. Find them at www.bloodredshoes.co.uk or at their MySpace.