Sweden-based psychedelic rockers Blues Pills popped into people’s consciousness with their self-titled debut in 2014. The album received positive reviews in the press for its 60s and 70s -influenced sound and was followed by heavy touring. With the follow-up, Lady in Gold, coming out tomorrow, Ville took the time to catch up with drummer André Kvarnström on the band’s new record, musical influences, and life on the road among other things.
[Disclaimer: some of the answers were cut short due to audio errors during the interview]
Your new album, “Lady in Gold,” is coming out on August 5th. Are there any new flavors or guest musicians like on the first album, or other special things?
This album is going to be a bit more soul inspired to begin with. For me personally, I got introduced to soul and psychedelia together, so that’s very interesting for me. And it’s more piano- and organ-based. And we also have a choir. A little bit like that.
What was the recording process like? When and where did you record it?
We started the recordings back in 2014 in October, and we recorded in Gothenburg at the same place where the first album was recorded, with the same producer, Don Alsterberg. The recording process was that we did a lot of shows, a lot of touring, so we maybe went to the studio and recorded for a couple of weeks and then after that we went off to tour, and then went right back into the studio. It was intense in some ways but we’re really proud of it.
How are your songs born? Do you get together and start jamming in the rehearsal place or do some of the band members bring in songs that they’ve started working on at home?
The difference maybe from how the songs are written on this album from the first album is that, on the first album the songs were already written. There were some earlier versions of our tracks that people could listen to, that turned into different studio versions on the first album, and this time almost every song was written in the studio with the band. Usually it’s been Zack [Anderson, bass] that brings a riff idea or a song idea or something and then we all, on this album, worked on it until it got finished. Then pretty much when a song is finished, we record it. Then we have different version of new songs or takes that we have done and we went back in to see if we wanted to change some stuff, and then we did and re-recorded it. So this time the songs were written in the studio.
The cover art is pretty cool, just like the first album, and it’s actually round like a vinyl record. Where did this idea come from?
The cover was done by the same artist who did the first one, Marijke Koger-Dunham. The specific painting is an old painting of hers that she did in the 60s, I think, and then we asked her for a cover to use on the album and we are really happy that she allowed us to use her work and that we can work very smoothly like her artwork and her style of making art.
It seems to fit into your music very well.
You guys do a really great job reproducing this authentic ’70s sound – which bands or what things drew you into that style of music in the first place?
We all love and gain a lot of inspiration from the bands from the ’60s and the ’70s, but of course we are also listening to newer stuff as well. One way that got us linked to this style of music is maybe from our parents. Of course when you grow up, you exchange music with your friends, you maybe discover some new stuff and you go back and listen to what that band was inspired by and it leads you to other bands.
I’ve also discovered that looking through your favorite bands’ influences is a good way to find some interesting stuff.
Exactly! If you can find what inspired that band, then you can go deeper down to find different stuff.
This retro movement is pretty popular right now among young musicians and listeners. Why do you think it appeals to so many people?
I don’t know really. Maybe it’s the honesty or something. There’s something behind… why do you play this kind of music, you’re actually having people on stage playing instruments, and the way that people record, it’s like live. It has a different feeling from, for example, electronic music, where there are computers involved and stuff like that. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong to do that music of course, but in this kind of music there’s actual performances from a human being. Maybe people react and relate to that. Maybe it’s more to, let’s say electronic music… I mean, of course there are a lot of people that are interested in electronic music too and that can maybe influence them. I don’t really know why specifically, but there are a lot of good bands out there that play that style of music.
Those are some good points. How do you feel BLUES PILLS stands out compared to all these other bands that play this kind of vintage stuff?
Every band is different and brings different influences to their style of making different music. Maybe for this album, for the “Lady in Gold” album, apart from other bands, it’s maybe the soul elements or something. There aren’t maybe so many bands out there taking influences from soul artists and bands. Maybe?
Do you or your bandmates have any favorite bands or genres that might surprise your fans, or that they wouldn’t expect you to love? Like guilty pleasures, for example?
I don’t know actually. We are all pretty open-minded. It’s not like we are specifically into this ’60s-’70s style of music. It can be music from any year to any genre almost. So actually it’s hard to say.
You guys have toured quite a lot since the first album came out. Have you learned any valuable lessons during your time on the road?
I think we’ve been touring for the past 2 years. Of course we learned from each other. The way that we are traveling, not alone, we ourselves in the band, we also have other people traveling with us, like the tour manager and sound engineer and that kind of stuff, so I think that these past 2 years we all have learned a lot of things about [that]. I learned how to work as a group, as a team, which I think is really important.
You’re still quite a young band, but have you had any crazy encounters with fans yet? Have you received any interesting gifts, for example?
Yeah, maybe not such crazy things. Sometimes we get some chocolate or maybe a bottle of wine. I think we got some pastries and stuff that people have made themselves, which is flattering of course. Stuff like that.
That was all my questions. Thanks for your time. It was nice talking to you.
Thank you, take care!
Interview by Wille Karttunen