Laura-Mary Carter and Steve Ansell released their third album ‘In Time To Voices’ earlier this year and have pretty much been touring non-stop since - much to the delight of their loyal fans. The hardworking duo are now coming to the end of their European dates with very little time to catch their breath before they hit the festivals. A jam packed summer will not only see them play the main stage at Reading and Leeds, but also headline Shepherds Bush Empire.
We caught up with Steve in Germany to find out why they’re both more excited than ever about writing, discover the secret of their longevity, and talk Twitter.
Congratulations on the new album, it’s great to have you back! Are you pleased with the way it’s been received and the feedback you’ve had so far? It must be nice to know you’ve been missed?
Well you know, when you're as desirable as Blood Red Shoes, it's easy for people to miss you, so we were expected that… (!) It was nice to come back and satisfy people with something a little different.
There’s a definite progression in terms of the tracks when compared to your last two albums. You’ve talked about how you really wanted to focus on songs this time around. Did you enjoy being able to concentrate more on the writing process?
Yeah it was a good period for us as songwriters, we both feel that we learnt a lot about our voices and ourselves especially. I think we opened a lot of new avenues to ourselves and we have a lot of ideas for the future. We're more excited than ever about writing more and more.
Mike Crossey has now produced all three of your albums; it must be easier to work with the same person, someone who’s seen you develop?
Yeah it's been great to work with Mike, he understands us and he can help guide us through. We've learnt so much from Mike over all the time that with this record we were more involved than ever in the production and engineering of the album, which is great, he allows us such a freedom and level of control over so many aspects of the sound. But he's also there so that we don't disappear up our own arses. He's there to keep us on track if we're making hideous decisions like us musicians are prone to.
‘Cold’ was the first single to be taken from it, was it difficult choosing the first one to come back with, the track to bridge the gap between the last record?
Well we talked a bit about it but Cold just seemed like the right song really. It had all the qualities we needed for the "comeback" song I think.
You’re coming to the end of a mammoth tour, have you enjoyed getting back out there? Was it more daunting that usual seeing as you hadn’t tested any of the new material prior to its release?
Well right now we're just on the last week of the tour, we're in Germany as we toured Europe, Scandinavia and UK all back to back. It was cool watching the reactions to the new songs, and it was funny to see that by the end of the tour, when people had been able to listen to the album more, that they knew the songs from ‘In Time To Voices’ much more.
Having seen you recently in Manchester I can vouch that it’s a fierce, loud and very raucous set. How do you manage it every night? Where do you get your energy from?
Well we don't do it every night. Ask any one of our super-dedicated fans who've come to ten shows on every tour…they will tell you that sometimes we're shit. It's unavoidable. We don't use backing track and we don't like to lie to the audience, we're not one of those "the show must go on" bands. If we're having a bad show or we're tired, you'll know about it. But on the flipside, when things really click and we're fired up and the crowd is with us we're totally unstoppable.
You’re known to be a bit of a radar for trouble on the road, can you fill us in on any antics that have occurred this time around? I’m presuming there’s been some hangovers?
Well my friend, in this world of 24-hour twitter and Facebook updates, I believe more than ever that what goes on tour, stays on tour.
Having been together 8 years now and with a lot of that time spent on the road, do you ever get sick of the sight of each other? Touring in general must be hard; do you ever just think ‘I can’t be bothered today’?
Yeah of course. And then one of us will try to talk the other one around. It usually works out because even if you've not slept for days and your veins are throbbing with toxicity, once you get onstage it just all falls into place. Usually.
You’ve taken The Cast of Cheers out on the road with you, great choice. They’ve been getting a great response from the crowds, is it important for you to have someone supporting you that fits your sound?
Yes we always choose the support bands personally. If you ever come to a Blood Red Shoes show you know for a fact that the bands opening are ones we like, and think our crowd will like. And for us, it's a great motivation because we get to watch a great live band before we go on every night and get really fired up to play.
Blood Red Shoes are very unique in the sense that you’re incredibly hands on with everything - from designing the merch to creating your own artwork. It’s refreshing to see when everything seems so contrived these days. Is the fact everything comes from you one of the reasons you keep doing what you do and enjoying it?
Maybe. I've never really thought about it. We don't cope very well with being alienated from any kind of output of our band. I mean if we had more time, we'd do even more ourselves. So yeah maybe the fact that we've retained that control over our band has meant we're happier and kept us together.
One thing I’ve noticed across the years is how incredibly strong and loyal your fan base is. You seem to have done this without having a great deal of mainstream exposure. That must be something you’re proud of?
Well yeah I don't think you do get dedicated fans from mainstream exposure. Rock music fans are not as transient as pop music fans and the mainstream media. They appreciate finding music and not having it sold to them, and they will pay more attention to a band. I think a lot of the crowd that bands get through exposure generally dries up when that media hype does. It’s very short lived from what I’ve seen.
The likes of Radio 1 have been backing these new singles from the album, do you feel like you’re finally getting some of the recognition you so rightfully deserve?
Well we try not to think about recognition. It’s hard because we're only human and sometimes, yeah, we think ‘why don't more people fucking notice our band’. But at the same time, you have to remind yourself that recognition is not success. It does not make you a great band. I'd rather be a great band that takes ages for people to notice than a band that everyone's heard of, but makes bad records.
You both you use Twitter, do you enjoy the interaction with fans and being able to give them a bit of an insight?
Well yeah that was a bit of an experiment for me as I'm really not a social networking kind of person. I'm big into hanging out and socializing in real life and I don't like the way the Internet is becoming a substitution for real human interaction. HOWEVER, twitter, I think is kind of a laugh. And yeah it means people can ask us questions publicly and we can choose to reply to them or not, which works better than people having our email addresses. I mean we used to have our personal email addresses posted on our website but shit just got way too weird. It's better for people to be able to write to us publicly. And in 140 characters.
There was recently a bit of a backlash involving you and You Me At Six fans after a comment made in an interview was blown out of proportion, this kind of thing must be incredibly tedious? Especially when the press jump all over it?
Tedious… it's fucking hilarious! I don't even know why anyone would give a fuck what I think. I mean, why be so defensive, if someone slags off our band, I couldn't care less. Unless it was Thom Yorke, because that would bum me out.
And finally… you’ve got a mountain of shows and festivals lined up for the rest of the year, which ones are you most looking forward to?
I’m really looking forward to Reading and Leeds actually. Playing the main stage there is a real watermark thing for our band and I’m fucking proud that a couple of silly little punk kids like us have managed to steer our band to that point.
Interview: Michelle Lloyd