Ever since we first saw Blues Pills live in Perth 3 years ago, we have been entranced by their bluesy retro style of music led by the amazing voice of Elin Larsson. Fast forward a couple of EP’s and their debut full length album later and the band are about to release their sophomore effort “Lady In Gold” on August 5th, a more soulful psychedelic batch of songs that pushes the band forward musically. We speak to guitarist Dorian Sorriaux about the new songs and much more.
Andrew: I’ve just been listening to the new album “Lady In Gold”, fantastic stuff as always, really cool stuff. You must be pretty happy with how these songs have turned out.
Dorian: Yeah all of us in the band are really proud of this record and really excited about it.
Andrew: Tell us a little about the process for how the songs came together this time around. This is the second full length album after a couple of EP releases so how was the process this time around?
Dorian: Basically we started working on this record a couple of months after the release of the first one so late 2014. And as opposed to the first record, we went into the studio with no complete songs. We just had ideas and we went in and started working on the songs and that got all of us as well as the producer involved and on the same level because we’re all in the room sharing ideas and trying to make a record at the end of the day. We worked in the studio basically until we felt we had a record ready to go.
Andrew: The title “Lady In Gold”, for whatever reason I just keep thinking of a James Bond movie. It sounds like a James Bond movie title, where did the name come from?
Dorian: It comes from the story telling of the lyrics. It’s about Lady In Gold, like the angel of death. She’s taking your life away and she represents death. It’s a different perspective on death than what most people have because she’s a lady and she’s beautiful and she has this darkness and at the end of the day, she kisses you and brings you to the other side. With the lyrics, the title Lady In Gold really just made sense to call the song Lady In Gold. That song has a blues rock element as well as the new musical direction that we went for which is more soul and psychedelic, it’s the first song on the record and it just felt right to also call the album “Lady In Gold”.
Andrew: Yeah I wanted to ask you about that because compared to some of the other stuff you have done in the past, this album is a little different. You have sort of gone in a slightly different direction but still keeping the traditional elements that you have always had. What was the reason behind that? Was it just a matter of trying something different or not repeating yourself?
Dorian: Yeah kind of. We kind of knew already after recording the first album that we wanted to do more psychedelic soul stuff, we didn’t want to redo the same album. It’s more exciting to venture into new territories and that’s definitely what we all kind of did, just experimenting and go on what we had never did before which was and is really exciting.
Andrew: Yeah and that’s the goal of any band I guess, is to keep things fresh for yourselves.
Dorian: Yeah I guess everybody does it differently but I think it’s really cool to try to create something new every time. No offense to AC/DC where they have been doing nearly the same thing since they started but they do it great so that’s also a different way of doing it and in some ways they are keeping it fresh in some ways. But I won’t go into the details on what’s been happening with AC/DC lately!
Andrew: [laughs] Yeah everyone has their thoughts on that whole thing. Were you ever a Guns N’ Roses fan at any stage in your life at all?
Dorian: I was way more of an AC/DC fan I think than a Guns N’ Roses fan.
Andrew: Now the album cover (Lady In Gold) was actually something that was done years ago by an artist that you had worked with before?
Dorian: Yeah that’s right. Her name is Marijke Koger-Dunham and she’s Dutch to begin with but she moved to the U.S. a long time ago, I suppose in the early to mid-60’s. She painted both the first and this record as well as the live record that we put out and all of those paintings were made in the 60’s but this one is a little bit different because it was painted black and white in the 60’s and she colored it for us recently, so that’s the big difference. I think it really fits the music really well and I’m really thankful that we’re able to work with her because she is such an amazing artist, she’s been really kind to us. We haven’t met her yet but hopefully in the U.S. we can finally meet her but yeah, she’s a really amazing artist.
Andrew: Oh right you have never met, so you must have done everything through email and by phone?
Dorian: Yeah mainly through emails.
Andrew: How did you discover her and get in touch with her the first time?
Dorian: We had seen that artwork by The Incredible String Band, do you know them?
Andrew: Not familiar with them no.
Dorian: They have a psychedelic artwork back on an album that was released in 1968 and she made the artwork so we always used to send that to the artist painting stuff for us as an inspiration for them and we never quite got 100 percent what we were after. So at some point Zach (Anderson, bass) said, ‘Maybe she’s still making artwork, maybe we can get in touch with her’. So the he sent her a message and she responded and was like, ‘Yeah I actually have a handful of covers that has never been used by any band just standing there that I made in the 60’s, here it is’. And we were just like, ‘Woah, OK that’s gotta be the first album cover’. We got a license for all of those and that’s exactly what we’re after so that’s basically how it happened.
Andrew: Yeah and as you mentioned before, the music is a little more psychedelic and I think that album cover really captures the musical direction very well. Touring wise, I know you have a bunch of dates in Europe at the moment but after our first time seeing you 3 years ago in Australia, we would love to have you back in the country again.
Dorian: Yeah it would really be a great pleasure to come back. There is nothing planned right now but I think definitely in the future if something comes up, it will be very cool to come back to Australia with a couple of records now. Because when we were there, we just had a couple of EP’s.
Andrew: Yeah that’s right! I guess the setlist over the last couple of years has changed drastically then.
Dorian: Sure yeah, definitely. And now it’s going to change quite a bit again because of the new record and we start to bring new songs live which is really exciting for us, it’s really cool to be mixing the old songs with the newer songs. We’re going to have keyboards on stage with us, there’s going to be a fifth person on stage and he’s also going to be playing a little guitar on the older songs. So we definitely keep on growing as a live band as well.
Andrew: Speaking of different, you have a cover song on there “Elements And Things” by Tony Joe White who some people may not be familiar with his work. But it’s starting to become a tradition for you guys to cover songs.
Andrew: Yeah that’s true, we had a cover on the first record and now we have “Elements And Things”. Both times it’s really been natural, songs that we’ve been playing live and just felt natural to record it. And especially with “Elements And Things” because we’ve been playing it live since the end of 2014 so it’s been about a year and a half and the people in the audience always love it and are asking for the cover to be on the record and saying they love the song. As well as us so it felt really natural to put it on the record especially as it has a groovy vibe, it’s a groovy song so it fits with the direction that we were going for.
Andrew: And for people who are not familiar with that song or that artist, they may mistake that song for being one of yours.
Dorian: That is true. There are some people I suppose who may be the first time they hear it is our version but it’s Tony Joe White’s song and for anybody out there, it’s a good record so I would say if you haven’t heard it, go check it out.
Andrew: Well speaking of other artists, who are some of your biggest influences when you first started playing the guitar?
Dorian: When I first started on the guitar, it was ZZ Top. As a kid I got into ZZ Top when I was 4 or 5 and it was the first band that kinda opened the door to the whole blues rock world for me so they have always been a really special band for me. I think we all have that one band when you’re a kid you get exposed to where you’re like, ‘Wow!’. So that was the one for me and then I got into Rory Gallagher and Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac including Peter Green and Paul Kossoff from Free, usually they are the few handful that I mentioned that are the biggest blues rock guitar influences on me.
Andrew: What about Jimi Hendrix? Was he an influence on you because the first time I saw you guys live, the first thing I immediately thought when I saw you play guitar was Jimi Hendrix.
Dorian: Yeah and Jimi Hendrix as well of course, big influence for sure.
Andrew: As I said before we would love to have you back in Australia but as far as you touring schedule for Europe, what have you got planned and who are you touring with?
Dorian: We have about 30 shows this summer, mainly festivals so that’s always exciting in the festival season because you get to see a lot of different bands also playing the same shows and stuff so I may get to see some bands that I’ve been wishing to see. So that’s really cool and then afterwards we have a long 6 week tour with Kadavar through out Europe and we were touring with Kadavar in Australia actually in 2013.
Andrew: That’s right, I remember that!
Dorian: So we’re doing this again over in Europe which is really exciting. We’re fans and we’ve been talking about doing a tour together in Europe for a long time but it never actually happened because we were always doing other tours as both bands have been touring quite a bit. But now we’ve actually made it happen and we’re really excited about it.
Andrew: Cool! Well congratulations on the new album, as I said it’s fantastic stuff. That first album you put out was really great but I think you’ve topped it again with this new one. Hopefully next year some time we get to see you in Australia as well.
Dorian: Yeah really looking forward to coming back and thank you for taking the time to ask me a few questions!