Blues Pills is a band featuring members from multiple countries, so it is no surprise that their popularity is growing, especially in Europe. Their second full-length album, Lady In Gold was released August 5th via Nuclear Blast and since then the blues/rock act have been busy touring and promoting. However, drummer Andre Kvarnstrom was recently able to sit down long enough to take some questions from Screamer.
Since the musicians hail from Sweden, France, and America, an obvious question is how did they all happen to get together in the first place? According to Kvarnstrom, “The band formed in 2011. Elin (Larsson, vocalist) was traveling around in the USA and met up with Zack (Anderson, bass) and Cory (Berry, former drummer) who were living in California at the time. They started to jam and make songs together. Eventually, they contacted Dorian (Sorriaux, guitar) from France, which they had met while Zack and Cory were on tour in Europe with another band. They all moved to Sweden, Orebro in 2013 and that’s where I met them. We started to hang out and jam together from time to time, so when they searched for a new drummer, they contacted me and we started to play with each other.” As far as where the band name came from, he added, “ The name Blues Pills comes from a music blog owned by a guy names Jens Heide, who is also running the Freak Valley Festival, which we played and released a live album from.”
Larsson has stated that the “lady in gold” as a character, is a representation of death, used in place of something as stereotypical as, say, the grim reaper. Though it may sound like a concept album, Kvarnstrom shares that may not have been the original intention. “I don’t think we really went into the studio with a concept idea of how the album should have turned out,” he said. “We just kind of started working on it the first time we went into the studio. The lyrics are written by Zach and Elin. Some songs are inspired by real life experience and some are made-up stories, which I think blend in perfectly with the songs.”
Sticking to tradition, the band recorded this album in the same location as their first, as Kvarnstrom explained. “We recorded Lady in Gold in the same studio as the first album, which is located in Gothenburg, Sweden. We also used the same producer and recording engineer, Don Alsterberg. For myself, it was a new experience to record the album, since it is the first full-length album I have done with Blues Pills. And also the very first time for me to record on a tape machine. But some times were, of course, a bit harder than others, but we all are very proud and excited about this album.”
For those who have not heard Lady in Gold yet, the drummer shared his thoughts on a handful of the tracks:
Bad Talkers– “This is one of the more ‘groovier’ songs on the album. It’s a song that hopefully will make you shake and dance to the rhythm.”
Burned Out– “A powerful song with an even more powerful vocal and choir arrangement by Elin. I like the driving beat together with Zach’s sweet bass lines in the verse and the sliding guitar by Dorian in the middle section.”
Little Boy Preacher- “I like Little Boy Preacher because it is a song that just came out from a jam we had in the studio. The tape machine was on record and we just did something together that ended up being a great song for the album. It has a psychedelic soul vibe to it and might be one of the songs that has a weirder song arrangement.”
Elements and Things– “ We started to play Elements and Things by Tony Joe White almost over two years ago. It is of course impossible to recreated what is done on the original recording, but we felt like it was one of those songs that could fit good on the album. And I like the groove that we create by playing this song together.”
As far as the rest of the album, you will just have to pick up a copy and find out for yourself! Kvarnstrom also compared Lady in Gold to their debut album, saying, “This album has more of a soul touch to it. We of course blended in elements from the first album, such as the blues and the heavy rock parts. But it was really cool to be able to blend in some new instruments like the organ, piano, Wurlitzer, and even clavinet.
The band decided to kill two birds with one stone and shoot two music videos at the same time: “We shot music videos for Lady in Gold and I Felt a Change on the same day. We chose to work with Johan Baath and his crew, who produced and directed the two videos. We shot it in an old house out in Stockholm. Since we did both videos at the same time, it was kind of hard to keep the schedule on time. Elin, for example, wa shooting for over twenty four hours straight. There was not much heat in the building, which didn’t make it easier for us. But we are really satisfied with how they turned out!”
Thankfully, due to all the time spent together on the road, the band is very capable of handling large amounts of time together. In fact, shared Kvarnstrom, “ Since we are a touring band, it’s very important that the chemistry between everyone is good. I feel that in Blues Pills, we are always supporting each other and giving one another positive vibes. We are really respecting each other and we all are in it for the happiness that music is giving us , which all of us value the most. And to be able to perform every night for people and sharing that with them is an incredible thing.”
Speaking of the road, the band currently has a very full touring schedule: “We just finished the summer festivals for this year. Now, we have three to four weeks ahead of us for practicing and preparing for the upcoming tour in October with Kadavar. After that, we have some shows in Finland and Sweden. Then we are going to get some rest spending Christmas at home as well as planning the dates for next year.” As Kvarnstrom shared, “What I am most excited about for the next tour is to incorporate the new songs with the old ones and make the set have a better flow. But I have heard that the venue Le Trianon in Paris, which we play on the thirtieth of October, is supposed to be a beautiful place. So I’m looking forward to going there.” As far as his hopes of what audiences with will walk away with after seeing the show, he added, “ We are all trying our best to have 100% focus on every show and making every performance better and better. And hopefully you can hear that when we play and then if I were to be in the audience watching us play, that is probably something that I would take notice of and get moved by.” And when he does have some free time away from the road, he definitely takes some time to relax: “It is just nice being at home, listening to some records maybe, seeing old friends and family. We are also building a studio in our hometown, which we are trying to work on whenever we get the chance.”
While the current schedule only shows dates for Europe, Kvarnstrom does say that they hope to add some US dates as soon as possible. He did share some closing thoughts as well: “I think that what we are able to experience right now as a band and as individuals is one of the coolest things actually. To go out and play shows and festivals, travel around Europe playing music is truly one of the greatest things I’ve done….I just want to say thanks to everyone that comes out to our shows and supports Blues Pills. It means the world to us!”