The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world





NOVEMBER 18 2013: Sometimes it’s all about the voice and the soul. Over the years of course there have always been artists that arrive on the scene and are compared to the greats, very few seem to last and very few deserve the tags. Blues Pills' vocalist Elin Larsson has drawn comparisons to the largely incomparable Janis Joplin, and you know what? On the basis of their debut EP, there just may be something in that. The quality of the songs of course help: and here they’re particularly strong with a surprising amount of space and light in there which is unusual for a new band. We spoke to Elin and bassist Zack Anderson on the eve of their Australian Tour.



MARK: Thank you for taking the time to talk to the Rockpit. For those who aren’t familiar with the band can you recap how it all started and how you got to where you are today?


ZACK:  Thanks for interviewing us! The band formed near the beginning of 2012.  Cory and I are step brothers so we started playing music together when were about 15.  We played in different bands since then, sometimes in the same band, sometimes in different bands.  We met Elin while we were living in California, and she was there visiting.  We didn’t have plans to form a band then, but when we heard her sing we were blown away.  We were so impressed by her voice, we were inspired to start writing songs together, and over the next few months we just jammed and recorded a couple of demos. We uploaded these demos on YouTube, and that’s when it really all began for us.  It got the attention of Crusher Records who offered to release an EP, and soon we were offered a tour in Spain.  The problem was then we were just 3 people and didn’t have a guitar player.  Cory and I were playing the guitars on the demo’s we recorded.  We had seen Dorian playing in pub about a year before and we remembered him because he was really talented and very young. We tracked him down on Facebook and asked if he wanted to try playing together.  He did, and immediately we connected and have been playing together ever since.  Over the last year we continued touring and playing shows, until recently we got a record deal with Nuclear Blast.  That’s where we are today.


MARK: You’re on your way to Australia for the first time with just an EP under your belt, what are you expecting from the show and what do you hope to get from the tour?


ELIN: We’ve been really lucky to be able to do so much touring with only an EP. We want to just continue spreading the band’s music, making new fans.  I think most of all we are excited and happy just for the chance to see Australia.  None of us have been there before and it’s exciting. 


MARK: You play with Kadavar who I believe are friends of yours and label mates, is it good to be venturing out with friends?


ELIN: Definitely.  They are such nice guys, and so easy to get along with.  They make wonderful music too, so it couldn’t be better, really.   It’s rare to get a chance to tour with a great band, who are friends as well. 


MARK: For you is it all about playing live? What do you get from being up there on stage?


ZACK: It’s not only about playing live.  I get a lot of joy from recording as well, but it’s a slow process, and the fulfilment comes in the end. Playing live is more of an immediate satisfaction.  It’s a lot more energetic, and performing your music is to an audience is a completely different experience.  You get satisfaction of people enjoying your music directly in front of you and, for me, it makes me feel like all the work we’ve been putting into our music has a purpose and a reward. 



MARK: The EP is amazing how long did it take to come together?


ELIN:  At the time we were recording an albums worth of material, like 10 songs, and it was recorded over several months’ time.  We recorded ourselves and it was really spaced out, with weeks between sessions, because we had to keep changing locations.  This wasn’t because of a cool story about different locations sounding better for certain things, but we had nowhere to go.  We had no rehearsal space even, so we would borrow our friends and things like that.  The drums and bass were recorded in an old abandoned house in the woods, which was really interesting.  This took about 1 week. We recorded the guitars in a friend’s rehearsal space which also took a little over a week.  Then the vocals we did in an empty basement, which took another week.  So it was about 3 weeks of actual recording, but it was spaced out over 3 months. 


MARK: What did you want to achieve from the EP, and how are you going to expand on that for the album?


ELIN:  We wanted to release something new for our existing fans, but we also wanted to put something out to reach new fans since this was our first release on a bigger label.  We weren’t 100% satisfied with all the material we recorded, so we just wanted to put out a “taste” of our music, to gain some more fans before releasing our debut album.  Also, with the support from NB we now have the opportunity to record in a professional studio, rather than release our home recordings.  We wanted our debut to be the best that we could do.


MARK: ‘Devil Man’ – is simply stunning and the a cappella vocal that bursts out at the start is the best opening to a record we’ve heard for a long time – do you ever get bored with the presumably endless Janis Joplin comparisons?


ELIN: Thanks! I take it as a compliment, and it makes me happy to be compared to Janis Joplin.  Still, personally I don’t think our voices are really similar.  I think the similarity comes more from the emotion, and the style of the music.  Actually, I’ve been mostly inspired by singers like Aretha Franklin and Etta James.  Still I love Janis Joplin and I look up to her a lot, so I still get happy from the comparison.


MARK: The EP has a real sense of place, but that place is the time when Aretha, Jimi, Janis and Cream held sway. People always use ‘retro’ in a dismissive way but has there ever been a better time for music?


ELIN:  For me it doesn’t really matter when the music came from, but there is something about “retro” music which seems more real, true, and full of emotion.  You can find that in modern music as well, it just seems like there was a lot more back in the day.  I don’t really know why.  I’m not claiming it’s necessarily the best time, but the 60’s and 70’s was certainly one kick ass time in music. 





MARK: ‘The River’ has more of relaxed jazzy vibe and is a song similar in vein, if not quite in power, to ‘Strange Fruit’ made popular by Billie Holiday. Has anyone ever made that comparison before?


ELIN: No, but that’s a nice compliment, because Billie Holliday was amazing!


MARK: ‘Time Is Now’ starts with guitar and it’s an altogether simpler and meatier proposition – a sort of Cream channelling Hendrix proposition – I’ll bet that’s a great song to play live?


ZACK: Actually, it’s funny, but it’s one of our least favourites to play live.  I’m not really sure why, but it’s probably the only song we have that we actually like the recording more than playing it live.  Usually for us it’s always the other way around. 


MARK: ‘Dig In’ that closes the EP adds yet more depth to the argument that Blues Pill is something rather special: it’s a lower key, slower blues that seems to tug gently at your soul. Is how our reviewer described the last track. Do you have anything to add?   


ZACK:  That’s good, because that was our goal.  We like to have slower, mellow songs, but it’s more difficult to write these songs because they have to really reach people with the emotion, or else they will just be boring. It’s easier to make a heavy rocking riff, with high energy, because this always pumps up a crowd.   


MARK: As a band what do you think your kind of music adds to the world?


ELIN:  Well, we don’t really think about it.  We just like to make music, we put it out there, and hope people will enjoy it.





MARK: Where do you see yourselves in ten years from now?


ELIN: Hopefully having a small little cottage in the forest with a recording studio. :)  But who knows, it’s a long time from now, so it’s hard to predict.


MARK: What have been your greatest challenges to date, and your favourite moments musically?


ZACK:  The biggest challenge has been over the past year.  We’ve all been working really hard and putting all our time in the band, so we haven’t been able to keep jobs because we are touring or recording, so we are far from rich.  Still it’s all worth it and the whole last year has been a crazy ride getting to where we are.  Some of the highlights are Roadburn Festival, Desertfest Berlin, Milhoes de Festa in Portugal, and Celebration Days France.


MARK: With technology changing so much over the last few years and seemingly not slowing, and TV force-feeding us the lowest common denominator, what hope is there for rock music?


ZACK: Who knows!? I can’t really say.  I like to hope for that, but regardless this is the music we like to make, so we will continue doing it.


MARK: Thinking back to your early memories of music, what was it that first made you decide you needed to be in a Rock and Roll band?


ZACK:  For me, my dad played in a band when I was younger.  I would watch them when they would practice and this is what first made me interested in playing in a band.  This is what planted a seed in my mind.  Cory and I then started learning songs together.  We would watch music videos on TV and try to learn the songs they played.  I remember some of the first songs were The Strokes, White Stripes, and Metallica.  It all went from there.


MARK: From what you’ve learned so far what is the most valuable advice you’ve been given so far as a musician?


ELIN:  Practice. 
MARK: What does 2014 hold for the band?


ELIN:  We are going to be doing a lot in the coming year!  We have several tours planned, as well as doing a lot of European summer festivals.  In addition to that we are considering putting out a live EP, and the biggest thing will be releasing our debut full length album.  We are all the most excited for that. 


MARK: Can music change the world?


ZACK:  I think it can play a part, a little bit at a time. 


MARK: If you could have been a ‘Fly on the wall’ for the creation of any great album from any period, just to see how the magic happened and it all came together, what would it have been for you any why?


ZACK: Probably Fleetwood Mac Then Play On, simply because it’s probably my favourite album. 


MARK: What is the meaning of life?  


ZACK:  No one knows!








Zack and Elin spoke to Mark Diggins 18 November 2013





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