Shaky Knees 2014: Blood Red Shoes x Vinyl Mag

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Taking it all very seriously

After postponing our interview with Blood Red Shoes at Shaky Knees until after The Gaslight Anthem went on (none of us were willing to miss it), we finally met up with the band in the press tent.

The interview started off with Steven being in a bit of a “silly mood,” slow to take things seriously, but eventually (after a few “for f*ck’s sake” jabs from Laura) offering up some very insightful takes on the peculiarities of the industry. Ironically, while I was swooning over their accents, they declared that they love American accents, particularly the southern accent. After we wrapped up the interview, we moved to the artist bar, where Steven took over pouring drinks for a rather inebriated bartender and poured me a “proper English cocktail,” which in this case was a Newcastle tall boy.

VM: We heard that we delayed this interview so you all could see Gaslight Anthem, which I really appreciate, because I really didn’t want to miss Gaslight. I just went backstage illegally and met Brian Fallon, and it was the greatest moment of my life.

Steven Ansell: That’s the greatest moment of your life?

VM: Yes. I also met Glenn from Walking Dead when I was checking in.

SA: Have you ever sneezed four times in a row?

Laura-Mary Carter:  You just met Glenn from Walking Dead? Is he here?!

VM: He’s here!

L-MC: What?!

VM: I was checking in at press, and I turned…

SA: Which one’s Glenn?

L-MC: You know, Glenn – the baseball guy.

SA: Aw, he’s a good guy. Can we get Glenn in the interview as well?

VM: He wouldn’t do it. I was like, ‘Can I get a picture?’ and he was like, ‘Really fast. Super secret.’

SA: Sorry, what are we doing? Who are you?

VM: I’m Emily from Vinyl Mag.

SA: Is it made out of vinyl? A magazine?

VM: Naw, it’s online.

SA: So, it’s not like a magazine, is it? You’re just a liar, really.

VM: It’s sort of an oxymoron –

SA: Don’t call me a f*cking moron…

VM: So, how was Gaslight?

L-MC: Yeah, it was great. We went on tour with them for couple of weeks, and we haven’t seen them since the tour.

VM: Have you met up and seen them?

L-MC: Yeah, we saw them earlier, but we were going to go say hey to them after this before we leave.

SA: I’m going to give them all a bit of a ‘noogie’ after this.

VM: A ‘noogie?’

SA: Yeah, where you get them in the headlock and then ‘err’ on the head.

VM: Are you going to do it to everybody?

L-MC: Definitely not the bassist, Alex.

SA: Definitely not Brian.

VM: Not Brian, why? Because he has perfect hair, and you don’t want to mess it up?

SA: Something like that. Also, last time I tried, he just got really upset. The rest of them could deal with it; he couldn’t. It’s obviously not his thing.

VM: How has response been to the album, Blood Red Shoes?

SA: So far, fairly bad.

VM: Fairly bad?

L-MC: No, Steve!

SA: Alright, sorry. I’m just in a really silly mood.

L-MC: I know!

SA: Can you ask [Laura]?

VM: [To Laura] Alright, how has response been?

L-MC: It’s been really good actually, because it’s kind of a raw record. It’s much heavier than our last ones, and it’s been cool. I think people really like it live, and it’s really nice. I think more younger people are coming to our shows.

VM: Why did you choose this one to be a self-titled, because I usually think of that as the first album? Did you feel like it was the most representative of your sound? 

L-MC: Yeah, it’s basically that. Like, we’ve made three records, and this one was sort of like, we know what we’re doing; we know our sound, and we completely recorded it and self-produced it.

VM: Yeah, I read that you did it all yourself.

L-MC: We didn’t think of a name; we just didn’t really come up with a name, and we just thought that meant it should just be Blood Red Shoes, because it really is. It was just us in a concrete room in Berlin; we wrote and recorded it.

VM: Did you already know how to do all that, like producing, or did you just decide you wanted to do it and learn?

L-MC: Well, early on, we recorded our first ever seven inches, and during that time we got more equipment. Steve was a sound guy – believe it or not – before this, so he’s quite technical.

VM: [To Steven] You’re a very professional guy?…we need liner notes for this interview, just to describe everything that’s happening [referring Steven’s antics].

VM: So, why Berlin?

L-MC: Because we play in Germany a lot; Berlin’s a cool place, and we wanted to get out of the UK. We wanted to get out of Brighton, and we just looked up places we could get, just rooms we could set up our gear and write and just be in a different environment. That was the one that came back; they still had space there that we could rent for cheap and make loud noises. It’s a cheap places and cool place to hang out, and there’s a lot of history of music that’s been made there. It just seemed right.

VM: This is just me wondering, because Record Store Day was recently- did you get anything cool for Record Store Day, or did you guys do anything?

L-MC: Did we do anything for Record Store Day?

SA: Yeah, I played at 4 p.m.

L-MC: We did something. When was it? I can’t remember now.

VM: It was a month ago, maybe not even a month.

SA: We were in Holland at a festival.

L-MC: That was it.

VM: Did you buy any records, like of the Record Store Day releases?

SA: No, absolutely not.

L-MC: I didn’t buy a record and, to be fair, I do buy a lot of records in general. Record Store Day – I feel like it’s every week…but I always support independent record shops.

SA: I feel like we should all be honest about Record Store Day, shouldn’t we? I like the idea of Record Store Day; I like the idea that it’s about supporting independent record shops. There are some really great ones that have died in Brighton, but what’s happening with Record Store Day is now it’s turned into this thing where our record label calls us and says, ‘what are we going to do for Record Store Day?’ At that point you’re saying to yourself, ‘am I putting a piece of music out because it’s a good piece of music and people need to hear it, or because it’s Record Store Day?’ Then every f*cking major label and every sh*t band that you don’t care about is making something, because it’s Record Store Day. Now it feels like it’s about product, and just throw out any old sh*t.

VM: Supply and demand and all that.

SA: It’s because everyone thinks Record Store Day is cool. I feel like, as a musician, you have to be really aware of the fact that what you put out needs to actually matter and need to be out. We write a lot; we jam all the time. We could throw out a tape of us rehearsing and jamming on a song and be like, ‘hey, Record Store Day. Here’s a half-finished piece of sh*t jam.’ But we put it on vinyl, so it’s cool on Record Store Day and makes people think it’s special, but it’s bullsh*t. So, Record Store Day is a weird thing. I think, on one hand I understand and want to support record shops that have been supportive of bands like us and actually do pretty good music, but on the other side, it’s been polluted massively by people just saying, ‘let’s throw any old crap, because people will buy it’…there’s something about it that doesn’t sit right.

L-MC: I think, for us, we always buy from independent record stores anyway, and if we’re going to buy something, make it right. We do our bit, but when it comes to Record Store Day, I don’t go out and buy records. I could do that anyway.

VM: How do you think American crowds differ from crowds in England? We interviewed Charli XCX and PEACE, and they both said British crowds were more subdued, and American crowds were much crazier.

L-MC: I think American crowds are very vocal. Even when we play here to 10 people at some shows, they’ll still be really loud.  You would not get that back home; it would just be really awkward, and when you finish the song it just feels weird. Even with 10 people, I feel like people really appreciate it and are vocally loud. It’s a good feeling. You can’t deny that that makes a difference. If people are just there, they might enjoy it the same, but when they’re more vocal, it makes you feel up for it.

SA: There’s nothing worse than when you play your heart out, and – it might be a small show – everyone just stands there. We had that in England. We played for 15 people, and they sat there. They might have even really loved it, but they don’t really show it. They’re so reserved in England. Everywhere, so far, we’ve been in America and North America, if people like you, you f*cking know about it. You really know about it, because they’re going crazy already. They don’t care if no one  else is dancing. You’ll get one guy that’s insane who will by himself, and he doesn’t care because he’s having a good time. For us, that’s amazing; to go to a place where no one knows us. We’re going to play better; the whole night will be better.

VM: I think that would be much more inspiring.

SA: It is much more inspiring. It sounds lame, like we’re trying to be like, ‘oh him, we’re in America, we love America,’ but it’s f*cking true. People are definitely less reserved, and if they like something or feel like you’re more comfortable with the show, I guess you’re less reserved about it. In England, unfortunately, people really hold themselves back. No one must be the first one to dance. No one must be the first to go, ‘actually, I really like this.’

VM: Are you like that at shows, or are you the dancing guys?

L-MC: I think we like to headbang and actually move. I wouldn’t say that I’m very vocal; I always cheer at the end loud, but it’s not like I shout stuff.

VM: Who did you get to see here?

L-MC: We went and saw Band of Skulls. We saw a bit of White Denim, Foals, and Gaslight Anthem.

SA: Cage the Elephant. We got to see a lot…where’d you guys get here from?

VM: Athens, Georgia. It’s like an hour and half…

SA: That’s where the B-52’s are from!

VM: I know!

SA: We were talking about this. We were like, ‘what’s in Georgia?’ The only thing we heard of was some specific type of barbecue food. It’s different regionally, yeah?

VM: We’re very proud of our barbecue.

SA: You have more of a vinegar sauce. Is that right?

VM: It’s sort of like ketchup and vinegar. South Carolina has mustard. North Carolina has straight vinegar.

SA: Yeah, right. There’s a regional thing for barbecue sauce. I knew that, and then Athens, Georgia has the B-52’s. I like REM, but B-52’s!

VM: We’re proud. What do you like about playing festivals as opposed to regular shows?

L-MC: I think just the atmosphere is cool, getting to see other bands, and when you tour all the time, you don’t get to see many friends, and you get to know lots of bands. So, it’s a nice kind of community when you come to play festivals, because you can play a show. You can try and cover people – it’s like your band as well, because it’s new people, so that’s a challenge. Then you can hang out with your friends that you haven’t seen since last year’s festival, and you get to see other music, which is inspiring. You kind of need to see other stuff.

SA: Yeah, it’s healthy to be in a place where you’re not just dealing with your own band.

L-MC: Yeah, it gets you more inspired, and you learn something.

VM: Tell us more about your current tour.

L-MC: Well, we’re at day three.

SA: Day three. So far, what’s happened? I am going to go to the hospital in the morning – liver failure, acute liver failure. I’ve had too many shots.

VM: But you’re waiting until tomorrow, though?

SA: Well, you know, always try to sleep it off. I don’t like to unnecessarily cause a fuss and call the doctor.

VM: But you’re anticipating that you will have to.

SA: Probably, yes.

L-MC: I’m not taking you there, so you can get there on your own.

SA: Well, you do everything bigger and harder in the states, don’t you? Those shots I’ve been doing – much bigger than the UK. You have big everything here. Really, freaking me out.

L-MC: It’s been so cool so far. We get to go to places we’ve never been, like we’re going to Salt Lake City. Tomorrow we’re going to Richmond, Virginia.

SA: Yeah, we’ve never been this far south.

VM: Really, do you like it?

SA: Actually, yeah.

VM: We’re friendly.

L-MC: Really like the accent.

SA: We played Raleigh, North Carolina yesterday, and at that point it was the furthest south we had ever been. Everyone was really friendly there; I’m noticing a tendency.

VM: Southern hospitality.

SA: Yeah, people are really warm.

VM: Besides the tour, what is next for you guys afterwards? Are you writing on tour?

L-MC: We do a little bit, but not so much. It’s hard on this tour, because there’s so much driving. We are going back home, and then we’re going straight into festivals basically, all in Europe.

VM: You’re doing Reading and Leeds, right?

L-MC: Yes.

VM: [You’re playing] a couple slots away from Jimmy Eat World, and that’s awesome.

SA: Touch my hand, and I’ll touch one of those guys’ hands for you.

VM: Oh, I’ve met them twice. I’m a stalker.

SA: I was going to try and be nice and say, ‘you touch my hand, and I’ll touch their hand, and then it’s connected.’

VM: Well, you touch my hand, and I’ve already touched their hand, so I have connected them to you. You didn’t even get to meet them though. You should. They’re cool.

SA: That’s cool, because now I don’t have to put in the effort. I don’t have to go knock on their door and say hello or any of that stuff.

VM: You don’t even have to go. You can just say, ‘dude, I’ve done it.’

SA: ‘I met a girl in Georgia; it’s fine.’

VM: Yeah, don’t tell them that. I think I freaked them out.

SA: Did you…???

VM: I did! And I don’t do that very often, but there are like two bands that I would [lose my cool with]. Yeah, I was not cool at all.

SA: The only person I ever got weird with that we’ve ever met as a band was one of the guys in Smashing Pumpkins. We met in New York once, and Laura was totally cool as f*ck.

L-MC: He just came into our dressing room.

SA: He just showed up in our dressing room.

VM: Oh, really?! So he came to you.

L-MC: Yeah, he was at our show, and he just came in the dressing room. I turned around, and it was him.

VM: [To Laura] And you were totally cool?

SA: It was James Iha, the guitar player.

L-MC: I’ve been emailing him ever since. Actually, I haven’t in a while, but we were.

SA: But he showed up; Laura’s super cool.

L-MC: Yeah, I love that band, but I never got obsessed.

SA: I like that band, too. Usually, as I’m sure you can imagine, I’m just being a little c*cky d*ckhead to anyone who helps me, even if they’re in a band I love. Smashing Pumpkins, I really loved when I was a teenager. I literally looked at him and was just like, ‘you’re in the Smashing Pumpkins band!’

VM: That’s exactly what I do.

L-MC: I would do that if it was someone like Courtney Love. I’ve had three chances to say something to her.

SA: You could’ve. She had a dressing room almost next door to us.

L-MC: Yeah I went in, but she wasn’t in there.

SA: Physically she was, but mentally, there’s nothing in there.

L-MC: I just thought sometimes you just shouldn’t meet your f*cking heroes.

VM: I agree with you on that.

L-MC: I think she might be one of those.

SA: Yeah, I’d be scared to meet Iggy Pop, because he’d probably break my heart. He’d probably just be like, ‘have you seen today’s papers?’ He might be really boring.

Steven the bartender

Emily is an over-enthusiastic lover of music, books, movies, fashion, and culture in general. Her love of music spans across all genres (what is a genre anymore? she waxes poetic to herself), though she was nursed on true punk and will never understand “redneck country” music – tractors are not and cannot be sexy. Emily currently lives in Brooklyn, NY and considers herself to be a great wit, though she is still waiting on validation from a credible source.


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