As hard as it is to believe, before 2004 indie gigs were pretty boring. All you’d get was either someone doing an impression of Pete Doherty or a couple of kids in Topman clothes making Belle and Sebastian-style twee folk. Then out of nowhere Blood Red Shoes showed up and proved that you could a) dance and b) have fun at indie shows. Making louder music with two members than the Cooper Temple Clause managed with six, they were one of the bands that gave the British indie scene the kick up the arse it so sorely needed.
Releasing their debut back in 2008, Blood Red Shoes’ first two albums refined fast, angry punk rock to its snarling apotheosis. Their third album ‘In Time To Voices’ was released earlier this year sees them “throw out their songwriting rulebook, entirely.” In coming weeks they’ll be touring it non-stop, but I managed to catch up with drummer Steven Ansell just before they played a show in Paris.
Hey Steven, tell me who you are, and what you do.
I’m the drummer, sometimes singer, always the fucking loudmouth. We’re backstage at the Alhambra in Paris. I’m watching Laura-Mary [Carter] re-string her guitar.
Later we’ll piss about backstage and drink Knob Creek.
You were always dogged by the lazy ‘boy/girl’ ‘drums/guitar’ comparisons, still happen?
Much less than it used to, we’re 3 albums, and about 650 shows in. Someone posted a comment our recent video saying “like the white stripes in another dimension” then about ten other people gave the poor fucker loads of abuse for it.
You’ve both been in bands for a long while, I was catching up on some old Cat on Form the other day and you were young then. Is this is all you know how to do?
Pretty much. We both just wanted to be in bands since we were very, very young and we’ve been single-minded in that. I think it’s half the reason we were drawn together; we could sense that in each other…
Sort of like a ‘punk as a state of mind’ thing?
Yup. Punk rock, rock ‘n’ roll, whatever you want to call it. People talk about selling your soul to the devil. I really like that mythology. It describes fairly accurately what it feels like to put every other element of your life on the back burner to be in a band.
You’ve been involved with Antifa stuff like Music Against Racism and Ladyfest it obviously extends further than just the music. What is your take on the country/politics/the world today? Occupy, The Coalition, The EDL…
Jesus that isn’t an interview question, that’s a topic for a book! A series of books in fact!
I’m all about the Big Questions…
Safe to say, we are a band who have long been stating our discontent and that’s not changed. The EDL thing blows my mind and the rise of the anti-abortion camp is also something
that Laura’s been really freaked out by. We’re supposed to be a civilized society and we’re regressing into a situation where these things are actually on the political agenda… insanity.
Laura designs all the Blood Red Shoes artwork, do you get up to anything else apart from playing the drums?
Mostly drinking. She’s the creative force and I am the destructive force. Haha, actually we’ve been producing a record with a great band from Strasbourg called 1984. We’re never, ever, short of things to do, we like to keep busy with music in some form at all times. Being in a band like this is a compulsion, almost a disorder.
I think if we really slowed down or stopped we’d get in such a headspin we wouldn’t know how to get out of bed.
Blood Red Shoes seems to be all about the adrenalin rush, railing against boredom, frustration, the banal and prosaic. How much is autobiographical? Is this a pressure valve to stop you guys going postal?
Well… yes and no. Our new album has more dimensions to it than that, but you’re right that is definitely a fairly definitive characteristic of our band. Partly autobiographical but also looking out in the world and I guess we have a general sense of humans being stifled, in many, many ways, and a sense that life should feel more free than it does.
Like Positive Hardcore?
It isn’t as conscious as that, but I’m yeah there’s some influence drawn from that tradition, simply because we’ve come from a background of listening to a lot of those bands.
You’ve said for ‘In Time To Voices’ that you’ve thrown out the rulebook. Is there a disjoint between the new record’s more intricate songs and the live show? Is it physically possible to recreate it?
Probably, a little bit, we’re concerned about that. You have to be brave and take the live show and the record as something different otherwise you’re always restraining yourself aren’t you?
We’re diametrically opposed to using backing tracks live, so yes, the live show has different energy, and a different chemistry. Some of the overdubs will be missing but that’s nothing different to what the Stones did in the ‘60s.
Any good war stories from touring?
We played Jakarta last year at a festival and it was fucking wild, it was great! …anyway on the last night we went out to all the clubs and went batshit mental and got to the hotel about an hour before we had to leave the next morning. Obviously we were in a right state. By the time we got to the airport, the travel sickness of Jakarta traffic had pushed the hangover to a new level and we puked ALL OVER the airport check-in queue. It was gross.
Anyway, after clearing up our sick and giving us bottles of water, the airline staff then ASKED FOR A PHOTO WITH US because they were Blood Red Shoes fans!
Blood Red Shoes are playing Heaven on the 3rd of May and the Shepherd’s Bush Empire on the 10th of October.Their third album ‘In Time To Voices’ is out now. Check them out at http://www.bloodredshoes.co.uk/
This post first appeared on Spoonfed on 30 April 2012