In Time To Voices is the third, and arguably best (so far) album from Brighton noisemakers Blood Red Shoes, who are currently in the midst of promoting the album through a string of dates across Europe. The band have long kept to their rigorous touring regime that has served them well for so long and when it came round to touring for the new album, they were hardly going to miss out too many places on one of their biggest tours to date. We managed to speak with half of the duo in the shape of the lovely Miss Laura-Mary Carter to see how the tour is going so far as well as delving into the band's past and possible future.
So, how's the tour going?
Great, we're in Hamburg now and it's really been good so far. We did a Europe leg of the tour before coming back home for some dates and now back in Europe so its been a bit nonstop but enjoyable nonetheless. Today has been really hectic so far actually, I think we're both feeling the strain but it all comes with the territory I guess so yeah, it's all-good.
Do you like to see yourself as more of a touring band still?
I think we've always been known as a touring band, we're known for playing like hundreds of shows each year and we've always based our style around that. After making In Time To Voices I do feel that we've experimented and become much more at home in the studio now and although we still enjoy touring and go on long tours I think we're making that transition from touring band to studio band now.
We'll always consider ourselves as a touring band I think, but now we're more at home when it comes to the recording of an album we can use this to hopefully make music that sounds great on record and on stage.
You're making the move up to the main stage at Leeds/Reading this year. That must be pretty awesome feeling making that moves up.
Yeah it's a huge step, we're both really excited for it.
Would you rather open up the mains stage or headline one of the smaller ones?
I guess it'd be the main stage, but then again I also guess it comes down to which stage we're talking about [laughs]. It's always been a dream to perform on a main stage for me, I went to Reading Festival when I was younger and since then I've always had that vision and that desire to one day perform on the main stage a now that days come its all quite surreal actually. The difference with performing on the main stage and on a smaller stage at a festival all comes down to that sense of accomplishment you feel when you're on the stage that you used to watch growing up. Going up to the main stage, it feels almost as if we're one step closer to achieving our ambitions and reaching heights that I wouldn't have imagined getting to when we first started out. It's an exciting, as well as humbling experience being moved up so I think for that, given where we are now too, I'd take the main stage slot over the smaller one.
How clear were your intentions before you went into the studio for the album?
They were actually very clear, in fact I dare say we were more focused on aware of what we wanted to make more so than on any of our other albums. We already recorded a bunch of demos for the album before we even went into the studio and we knew what kind of direction we wanted to head into so I'd say it was relatively clear. In fact, some of the tracks on the album are actually from those demo sets we did because we just couldn't improve on how we wanted it to sound, it just came out so well when we first tried there was really nothing else we needed to do. I don't mean to sound big headed in anyway, it's just that we seemed so much more focused and organised going into the recording of the album I like to think that we achieved what we set out to on this record and I think I speak for both Steven and myself in saying that we're more than happy with the outcome of the album.
You've made you past two albums available to stream for free - this an indication of where the music business is heading or just a kind gesture?
A lot of bands seem to be doing this at the moment. With our second website we just streamed it off our website to give people a chance to listen to it a week or so before it came out, but I guess it does have something to do with a decline in music sales. Everything is on the Internet now though isn't it; everything's changing so if anything this is just us just trying to keep up with the times. If you look at the changes in music from our first album to now then I don't see how we could have continued like that, the Internet dictates too much of what's happening now to be taken lightly.
As more band concentrate on touring rather than album work can you see the utilisation of the studio dying away at all?
It's hard to say really, I suppose it's an expensive thing to do but then again more people are just doing this work themselves. People are using computer programmes much more now, really simplifying the whole process, but there are also a lot of studios closing down recently. Live does seem to be where the money is made now and studios are declining somewhat so I guess you could say that the old school techniques are dying away. We do use Pro Tools for our recordings but I would still say that we're old school with our recording.
Nicki Minaj recently said that she doesn't want younger audiences listening to her music, as it could be harmful and give them the wrong impression. Coming from the opposite side of the musical spectrum, do you agree and how important are strong female characters in music?
It is a completely different world to the pop world, which is quite dominated by female singers, and you tend to get the argument that because of this there's not really much sexism in music, but what they mean is only relevant to mainstream music really. In the rock world it is really much more male orientated and I think that it is important to have a strong female presence in the genre because not everyone likes pop music. I like to think that the female bands of the nineties like Hole and Babes In Toyland were what made me want to get into rock music and if it wasn't for bands like that I'm not sure who I'd really look up to. I obviously listen to a lot of bands that are all male but you do need to know that you can go out and do it yourself if you're a girl because it is hard. Even now I think that people find it quite weird that we're a band with a female guitarist/singer and they expect me to have an acoustic guitar rather than an electric one.
Do you feel that there's still a strong sexist presence in rock music?
I don't ever feel like, when I play a show there's a real problem with me playing and being there, nor do I think there's a real problem with sexism to be honest. I think that its more a case that you just don't get taken as seriously as you would otherwise and as a result you really have to give your all and prove yourself as a serious contender. Other than that I don't think that there's a serious problem with it, from what I've seen anyway.
How important is it for you both that you still have a strong presence over everything you do with the band?
It's really important for us because, starting out in the punk scene, the DIY ethic is around from day one and you have to do everything yourself so I guess its kind of stayed with us as a tradition. I like the thought that when your buying something from a band that everything about it comes directly from the band. I feel as though, if someone else did the artwork (Lara-Mary has produced the art work for all three of the band's releases) it just wouldn't feel right. When we put something out with our name on it we want it to be from us, plus if something goes wrong with any of it it's our fault [laughs]. I think we'll always have this DIY ethic because it's become a major part of the band and I wouldn't really want it to go away.
Do you ever consider pursuing something other than working with BRS?
Some time in the future I'd definitely want to do something away from just the two of us. We've spoken a few times about doing some kind of collaboration project as well as discussing forming some kind of group with the two of us and a few others. It wouldn't be BRS or sound like it too much either, it'd just have the two of us in it though. I'm not exactly thinking of doing any kind of solo thing or anything like that, but the both of us are definitely up for doing something with music for as long as possible. That said there is still much to do with Blood Red Shoes for the time being and none of us are in any major rush to take on a whole new project. I guess when we feel we've done enough with BRS and if we don't hate each other we'll b e doing something a little different then.
Were tensions ever hoting up between you and Steven when you were recording?
I have felt like some times, probably every tour we've done to be honest [laughs]. I know that it'll subside though and you're always prone to arguments when you spend a long time with the same person and when I've spoken to other bands about it they always say they have similar problems. It's hard when it's just two of you though because you're kind of left on your own if you do get in an argument and I think that kind of helps ease out tensions to an extent. I do tend get wound up by most things anyway [laughs], so I am prone to get in a strop with Steven but never anything major.
How important was the music scene in Brighton for you when you were starting out?
Well it's where I met Steve when I moved there when I was 21, so there was a obvious major point for us there. I think if we'd had been a band in London it would have been completely different story, there's so many bands there and everyone knows each other and helps each other out it was a pretty ideal place to start out.
With it being renowned for being such a liberal place did this make the prospect of starting a boy/girl group all the more reasonable?
Me and Steve getting together was a pure accident but it is true that this may have helped us. The only reason we never got any other members was down to people coming to our shows and really liking what they heard so there was never any reason to recruit any more people. That said there was never any pressure to do so either and that could be as much to do with audience response to us as much as it was to no one being too bothered that there was a girl on stage playing guitar.
Who were you biggest musical influences growing up?
I'd probably go for Courtney Love - I've got so many musical influences but Hole really opened me up to much of what I would eventually start listening to. Now when I look at Courtney Love I do sometimes feel "aw man, my dreams have been shattered," but when I was younger and the first two Hole records came out they had a major impact on me. She's not a great guitar player or anything but what she opened me up to and her attitude and style, it made me feel that I could be in a band and go on stage wearing a dress and scream it was liberating at the time.
Is there one album you wish you'd made?
I wished I'd have made Loveless by My Bloody Valentine. It's easily one of my favorite albums and I was listening to it on my iPod recently actually and it just make you wish that you were involved in it in some way.
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