You can't accuse Blues Pills of having anything less than a stellar work ethic. The European foursome released their rapturously-received debut record in 2014 and within months had already headed into the studio to work on its follow-up.
However, with sessions sandwiched in between a world tour, it was always going to take time to work up what would become new album, Lady In Gold.
“There was pressure from ourselves and other people,” guitarist Dorian Sorriaux tells us. “We wanted to make a great record. There was time pressure because we passed a couple of record label deadlines. We wanted to make sure everything was right.”
The Pills’ painstaking attention to detail meant repeated trips to the studio, and Dorian reveals just because their debut was well-received that doesn’t mean they were handed a blank cheque by their label.
“The conditions weren’t the greatest,” he admits. “We were not staying at four-star hotels, we were sleeping on the floor of this small studio with no windows. But it was fun, we were playing music for 13 hours a day.”
The grueling conditions and painstaking attention to detail took its toll - it doesn’t take a genius to figure out what Burned Out, is about. But, that very same track is a prime example of just what a masterstroke it was for the band to refuse to bow to label pressure and rush out Lady In Gold.
It’s a track that shows defying record label deadlines isn’t the only risk the band took making this record.
One giant leap
There’s a sonic leap between the impressive Kossoff touches the young guitarist brought on their self-titled 2014 debut and its follow-up, as Dorian gets out his finest psychedelic soul chops.
“When it comes to guitar I really like that Norman Whitfield production - like Undisputed Truth with the fuzzy guitar tones. They have clean soul tone but there’s also often a fuzzy tremolo guitar tone in there.
“That was in my mind when recording this album. There’s a lot of fuzz on this album, whereas the first album had a lot of clean minor chords, more of a Peter Green vibe.”
It’s a sound that was achieved through a refreshingly old-school approach - tube amps recorded onto tape, as Dorian plugged his P-90-loaded Larry Corsa LP-type and 1970 SG Special through an Italian DNS.
Blue to gold
“Everything sounds great if you have a tube amp and you’re recording on tape,” he says.
“If you know what you’re dong with that combination you will always get a great sound. The DNS is like a mix of a Fender and a Vox AC30. The DNS 30 amps aren’t the best built, they’re kind of cheaply made, but they sound amazing.”
Dorian signs off with a reassuring response when we ask whether he thinks the risks taken on this record will pay off.
“We didn’t want to remake our first record. It has a different colour to it sound wise, but it still sounds like Blues Pills. It’s a calculated risk, but you’ve got to take risks sometimes.”
Blues Pills release Lady In Gold on 5 August via Nuclear Blast.