Distance is sometimes necessary. After a never-ending rollercoaster cycle of album-tour-album-tour-and repeat reached its climax with 2014's self-titled record, the duo behind Blood Red Shoes were exhausted.
In need of a break, from each other as much as the music business, Laura-Mary Carter escaped to Los Angeles while drummer/vocalist Steven Ansell remained behind.
Four years elapsed, and it seemed that might be that for the Brighton band. However, last year brought a reunion at The Great Escape as well as two banging surprise singles.
Now, with a fifth record ‘Get Tragic', boasting a synth-heavy new sound, finally set for release and a sold-out tour, Upset caught up with Laura-Mary before their intimate Brighton warm-up show…
So, you're back! How does it feel?
Yeah, we're back… I was talking about it with my friend; it's really weird. On the one hand, it's like my normal life, but actually getting back into it is a little daunting in a way.
Did you think you were done with Blood Red Shoes in 2014?
I wasn't properly done, certainly not done with music but I was questioning Blood Red Shoes personally. Literally, from the age of 18 onwards, I was touring non-stop and never had a break. And when we weren't touring, we were recording - and having always been a DIY band, there is always so much more stuff you have to do. There's so much bullshit that goes with it, it kind of dragged me down. Steve and I hadn't any time apart; we couldn't ever have private lives. It got to the point where I thought, if this carries on I'm going to combust.
So you moved to LA?
Yeah, I didn't have anywhere to stay. I went initially for a month; then it turned into three months, then I ended up staying there. In LA, there were so many more ways to collaborate and do interesting things, and for me, I needed to go off and do that with different people. I've only ever played with a drummer; you know what I mean?
How was it over there? A bit more glamorous than Brighton?
I found it really easy to just go and make music with people and try stuff! I ended up pitching songs for Rihanna, and doing a Pixies cover for the Game of Thrones soundtrack - it never got used in the end for legal reasons, but it was really cool. It actually gave me a positive feeling about music again at a time when I was down about it all.
Who got in touch with who?
I said to him, "Look, come out here. Maybe we should be in a new place, I'm doing this thing, and it's giving me ideas." He came out, and we stayed in a house with a lo-fi studio in a garage. We just started writing, that's when we wrote ‘Eye To Eye'. Some of the recordings from the album are still from that garage.
‘Get Tragic' is a big shift in sound, with synths galore. Was it scary making that move?
It kind of was, but no-one was pressuring us to finish the record, so we had the time. We thought this wouldn't work because it's synths, and that's sometimes a rock band cliche.
How does it feel being back with Steven?
It's been good, having time away and that separation, means we can be ourselves. He now likes totally different music to me, and that's part of why the album is quite different.
Was the recording smooth?
It was a disaster at times! After LA, we decided we would record some more in Wales. We rented a big building, on a road called Dark Lane. We were supposed to have the place to ourselves, but when we got there, we were greeted by these two really weird men who actually lived there.
At eight in the morning on our first day, there was banging on our bedroom door. It turned out that it was an old community centre that had been sold, but nobody had told the town and loads of them had keys!
It was used as a creche, so there were all these babies crawling amongst our equipment. These people were shouting at us, "You can't make devil music", because they had seen our band name on our kit. It was like Hot Fuzz or something.
We moved to Leeds, to use Pulled Apart By Horses' studio. Then I broke my arm…
Did you think it was not meant to be?
It was one thing after another. Every day I wake up, and there's one more thing.
It sounds like a miracle the album is out. Are you enjoying it, though?
I am now. I feel more positive; things are going good. We can actually get the record out, and we can go play it! Having time away actually made me appreciate all the good stuff.
And the tour's all sold out!
Yeah! That made me really happy. Because we were away so long, I thought the fans may not care anymore. We always had dedicated fans, and it's amazing that they're still here.
What's the reaction been to the new songs?
I think for our fans who have grown up with us, they've grown up themselves so I feel like they're excited about a different sound. This is only our second gig back, in London it was really emotional. We came out, and everybody was cheering, and I nearly cried - it was hard not to cry during the whole show!
What's next for you?
I love music. I don't want to just ‘be' Blood Red Shoes, I've got a solo thing coming out in 2019 as well, completely different - more alt.country. I just want to keep doing different things; I wanna put ‘good' out into the world.
Taken from the February issue of Upset. Blood Red Shoes’ album ‘Get Tragic’ is out now.
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