Armed with tracks from their killer new album ‘In Time to Voices’, Brighton-based alternative rock duo Blood Red Shoes are heading to Australia for the first time ever later this year, playing two headline shows as well as at this year’s Pyramid Rock Festival at Phillip Island in Victoria and Peat’s Ridge Festival at Glenworth Valley in NSW. Ahead of their maiden visit, Killyourstereo caught up with vocalist and drummer Steven Ansell.
G’day. Can we please start with your name, your role in Blood Red Shoes and the last time you lied to get out of doing something really shitty?
I’m Steven (Ansell). I’m the drummer and one of the singers. I lie constantly to get out of doing things.
If you could have your own brand of cologne/perfume made from the sweat of your idols, whose sweat would you include and what would you call it?
It would be made from the sweat of Iggy Pop and it’d be called Snakeskin.
You’re heading to Australia for the first time over New Years. Everyone here is super excited to have you guys finally pay us a visit. So, how did this tour come about and do you have anything special planned for your first trip Down Under?
I actually don’t know exactly how it came about. We’ve wanted to come to Australia for a long time but somehow it never came through, like no one wanted to book us, and now finally we get to do it. I can’t really think of a better time to do it than a New Year’s Eve either.
You’re playing the Pyramid Rock and Peats Ridge music festivals, which both stretch into next year. How do you hope to bring in 2013? Are there any bands on either of these lineups that you’re looking forward to hanging out with?
Yes, one band: Tame Impala. We love their records. We actually played a show with them in London a year or so ago too, so it’ll be cool to catch up. Other than that, we’re gunna be partying with whoever we meet at the time.
What’s one thing you hope to achieve by the end of 2012?
I want to be able to catch 10 Maltesers in my mouth, one at a time, from a distance of 5 metres.
Can you tell us any juicy details about your recent album, In Times To Voices? Perhaps things that went right/wrong during recording or anything that set it apart from your last two records? We’ve been cranking it in the office the past few days and it’s pretty epic.
Yeah we approached this one very differently to the previous two, and it made it a lot harder to make. Writing it was in turns really, really rewarding and really stressful. Like we knew we wanted to try things out but you have to experiment and be honest with yourself when you don’t think the results are good enough and throw them away. So we went through a year of basically tearing ourselves to pieces and being more self-critical than we’ve ever been before. I don’t recommend it. On the plus side, we learnt so much about what else we can do aside from fast paced rock songs, and I think we taught ourselves a lot about using studio production, which gives us much more control over our recordings and a much better grasp about what else is achievable in a studio.
What fuels the angst in some of your music?
I have no idea. We don’t really think about it – it just kinda comes out.
You teamed up with Mike Crossey once more for this album – he must be an unofficial member of the band by now, right?
Yeah, I mean he’s as close to us as anybody. We liked the idea of working with the same person for three albums because you all grow and learn together and you can go more into detail when you’re not constantly changing the dynamic.
We’ve heard rumours you guys get pretty crazy when on tour. Do you have any favourite tour stories you’d be willing to share with us? Or, alternatively, any advice for surviving life on the road?
If you meet me in a bar and buy me a whisky, I’ll share some stories. But generally speaking what goes on tour is supposed to stay on tour, so I sure as hell don’t like sharing them in public. Advice for surviving the road is: never drink white wine, and never take ketamine.
What do you get up to in your spare time when you’re not rocking out onstage?
We don’t really have much of that. We spend our time off the road working on things for the band. We’re really involved in all the decision making and planning that gets done with our management. We also write as much as we can when we’re off the road and Laura-Mary designs all the merch and record sleeves.
Have you always been a duo? Would you ever consider adding extra members to Blood Red Shoes or would that affect the dynamic you have going on?
Yeah we’ve been a duo since we started. We intended to get other members but just never found anyone early on, and then pretty soon we’d developed a chemistry as just a duo so we didn’t want to fuck with that. We might bring people onstage to add things here and there one day, or we’ll invite guests on the record, like the string players on our recent album. But no one else will ever be an actual member of Blood Red Shoes; there will always be just the two of us.
Do you have someone fill in on bass when you tour? Or do you guys have no problem filling out your sound in a live setting? I suppose the Kills and Sleigh Bells manage to pull it off…
There’s no bass guitar on the records so there’s no bass guitar live. We don’t have any trouble making the big noise with just the two of us. Both The Kills and Sleigh Bells chose to use backing tracks and/or drum machines to fill their sound, which we do not, we’re 100% live.
Who are your top five favourite musical duos?
1 – Lightning Bolt
2 – Simon and Garfunkel
3 – Th Black Keys
4 – DZ Deathrays
5 – Ummmmmmm
If you had one mixed tape to listen to for the rest of your life, can you name five songs you’d include on it and why?
Nirvana – `Aneurysm’: because it fucking rocks.
Pj Harvey – `Missed’: because it’s fucking beautiful.
Joy Division – `She’s Lost Control’: because it’s fucking haunting.
Radiohead – `All I Need’: because it’s fucking melancholy.
Fugazi – `Bed For The Scraping’: because it’s fucking amazing.
Just to wrap things up now and for a bit of fun, do you have a signature dish you cook when trying to impress guests? Or is cooking not your strong point?
Actually, I love cooking and it’s the number one thing I miss when I’m on tour. Soon as I get home I love cooking for other people. I’d say I make a pretty awesome melanzane parmigiana. I’m a big fan of aubergines – or do you guys call them eggplants?
Yeah, either is fine. Cheers.