INTERVIEW: Blood Red Shoes

19 Oct

Words by Rahsian Parris

The name might make them sound like a moody, underground, over-grunge band; screaming vocals and guitar smashing antics, but when I walk into the dressing room of Blood Red Shoes I’m pleasantly surprised by the lack of mayhem. Deep into the heart of Camden Town, at the top of the infamous Electric Ballroom sits Laura-Mary Carter and Steven Ansell, accompanied by a few members of their ‘team’. Laura’s dainty frame sits perched on the arm of a red leather sofa, her handshake is almost fragile, wearing an all black outfit that is all together more street fashion with a rock twist than standard punk princess – no panda eyes in sight. Steven sits beside her, sunken into the low couch, laptop in hands, chatting about tonight’s set-list; it all feels far more buzzing bedroom than rock star dressing room.

Laura, whom, for all intensive purposes, could be classified as the front woman, naturally takes the lead explaining how she met her band mate. ‘It was the usual really, just through playing at the same gigs and stuff, we were both in bands before, but after they broke up we decided to do something else’. She joins Steven on the sofa sinking down beside him, as she speaks she constantly looks back and forth between us, joining him into the conversation; though she has naturally taken the lead, he is not to be left out.

The Indie rock duo from Brighton were named in reference to a Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire musical ‘where Ginger dances so much her feet bleed through to her shoes and they turn red from being soaked in blood’ Laura tells me, ‘I also really loved Wizard of Oz as well so it’s in reference to the ruby slippers’ she says, Steven adding ‘basically it doesn’t mean anything clever, we just liked the sound of it’.

They have been together as a band for six years, boasting a critically acclaimed album, ‘Box of Secrets’, and several singles including tracks that recently appeared on the soundtrack for Michael Cera’s hit movie Scott Pilgrim Vs the World. With a second album on the way BRS, as they are also known, are quickly lighting up our airwaves with their punchy, fusion rock and sharp choruses that are ‘much more melodic than anything we played in the other bands’ says Steven. ‘[Fire Like This] is quite like ‘Box of Secrets’ in that we didn’t sit there and go ‘this is the direction that we want to go in, this is the concept, this is how we want it to sound’, we just jam, we feed off of each other and that’s how all our songs are written. If you listen to the albums I think you can tell that there wasn’t some preconceived idea, it’s more raw, more organic sounding’.

For a rock band that only has two instrumentalists whom are both vocalists they have an extremely strong sound, live and recorded so I wonder how many instruments they can actually play, ‘we both play the standard rock instruments I guess, piano, drums, guitars; I can play the tin whistle’ chirps Laura, Steven adds that he can play an obscure South American wind instrument that I have never heard of, Laura looks bemused, ‘No you can’t, he’s lying… can you? …Are you joking? …You are joking right? It turns out that he is, however I worry that he is slightly too convincing, even more so when I ask who they would have join the band if they could, ‘Probably Cliff Richard’ he says, both myself and Laura stare at him. ‘No really Cliff Richard is the man, apparently he’s an awesome bass player, but mostly I’d want him because of his neck’, I have to admit that I have not paid that much attention to Cliff Richard’s neck, ‘you haven’t seen his neck? You must have, it’s just folds and folds of skin from where they’ve pulled back his face so much to get the wrinkles out, so all the excess skin is just sitting there, it’s this big orange mess, it’s great, so that’s why him, but he’s also supposed to be great on bass’.

It might be all jokes and laughter, but when it comes down to the nitty gritty that is serious music business, Blood Red Shoes are quick to firm-up their identity, ‘I’d have Josh Homme on guitars, definitely’ says Laura with conviction; the guitarist and lead vocalist for American rockers Queens of the Stone Age is someone the duo consistently reference as being one of their greatest influences, however, Laura has a few shocking confessions, ‘I’ve been listening to some Beyonce recently, I have to admit it’ she turns to Steven looking apologetic ‘you’re going to hate me, but I’ve also been listening to The Killers’, Steven sits up in surprise, ‘it’s just that one song that I really like, the one about God and dancing’ she says defending herself. He relaxes though almost snickering to himself talks about The Killers, ‘everyone’s mother likes The Killers and King’s of Leon’.

He himself listens to all the bands the duo state as their influences which include Sonic Youth, Nirvana and the Pixies, though supporting Rage Against the Machine was one of the highlights of their career thus far, as was playing in Japan. ‘The Japan crowd is such a contrast to playing in the UK, they are really respectful and appreciative of the music, there is dead silence in between songs, they rock out whilst you’re playing, but they go quiet and listen when you’re done, not like here, it’s completely different’ says Laura.

So they have been together for almost a decade, have travelled the world together and it is just the two of them, surely they must get sick of each other? ‘We used to live together, but we don’t any more’ Laura says looking straight ahead, there is a split second of silence, not an awkward one, but it does linger a little bit too long before Steven adds ‘we obviously argue a lot, as would any two people that spend a lot of time together’, Laura cuts in ‘it can be about silly things sometimes [though never about hair straighteners], but it always gets resolved, someone always apologises, eventually’, Steven chips in ‘basically someone gets beaten and then someone says sorry’, however they resolve their arguments they are close and it is evident.

The band have been touring virtually non-stop this year ‘we’ve done over 300 hundred shows this year’ says Laura ‘no we haven’t’ cuts in Steven ‘there’s 365 days in a year Laura, we haven’t played a show almost every day, it’s more like 200 hundred because we didn’t play for a month at the beginning of the year’ he goes on to prove his point and she admits defeat with a nod. All that touring plus 40 plus festival appearances this summer, they must be tired, ‘I’m exhausted, all I want to do is go and find a big, huge meal’ says Steven, I look around to see a long table full of food and point it out, ‘but that’s not a meal is it? I want a hot dinner’ he retorts; ‘that’s for our management’ jokes Laura.

They are off to America this month to set their fame in stone stateside, so when exactly will they get time off? ‘We get December off usually’ says Steven, ‘yes, Christmas’ confirms Laura ‘I can’t wait to have some mulled wine’, I express my shared love of mulled wine, whinging that my friends say it’s only for old people, ‘well tell your friends that I said they can ********’ says Steven with animation, I make a mental note to tell my friends exactly that as our time together comes to an end. Still quipping about their deep passion for mulled wine, they say their goodbyes and leave the room, then in completely un-rock-star-like behaviour Laura doubles back escorting me to the exit, well-mannered, subtle egos, but still Blood Red Shoes.

Blood Red Shoes‘ new single ‘Light It Up‘, from their forthcoming album ‘Fire Like This‘ is released November 8th


Rahsian Parris for Music-News


2 Responses to “INTERVIEW: Blood Red Shoes”

  1. J.P. Spence October 23, 2010 at 7:35 am #

    Hey man, good piece! I saw them live at the bootleg. killer show. If you got the time check out my review

    • rparris October 23, 2010 at 11:33 am #

      Thanks 🙂 I shall have a look.

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