Swedish psychedelic rockers Blues Pills have entered into a new chapter in their history with a revised line-up and a new album to boot.
HRH Mag caught up with the band’s current guitarist Zack Anderson to get the lowdown on the changes within the band along with an insight into their new album ‘Holy Moly’.
You’ve got a new album coming out, it’s called ‘Holy Moly’ and it’s being released on the 21st of August. I just wondered if you could tell us a little bit about the starting point for that album musically. Did you have a particular concept or idea in mind?
I guess not really. Going into it we kind of just had been coming off of quite a long break from touring and just a break from the band in general. And I think it was sometime in 2018 or the beginning of 2019, we just sort of started to meet up again with the goal of writing songs just to get the ball rolling again. We went sort of from zero to a hundred. I guess because we went from having this long break to being in the studio almost every day just to write songs and practice and just sort of start again, because we also had this line-up change. It was me, André and Elin there – just us three. And then we would just go there pretty much every day to write songs. And then we started to record demos of it. So, in the beginning, our goal was just to make demos of the songs.
And then we weren’t sure how we wanted to record it, or if we would record with a producer or something. And then that kind of slowly evolved into being the actual album, because at some point in this process, we sort of said to ourselves that it’s already sounding pretty good. But maybe we should just take it one step further and start to put a bit extra effort into it and sort of stop seeing it as a demo and try to make this the album.
It’s a really weird time for music right now with the pandemic. And I know you’ve already kind of put the album release back once from a bit earlier in the year. Was there ever a thought about maybe pushing it back even further, maybe into next year, because obviously, it’s quite a difficult time right now to be able to tour and promote an album. Or was it just a matter of it’s ready, we’ve got to get it out there?
Well, I think that for a while there were no dates even decided, but then I guess that was kind of like a decision more by the label and the management that they just sort of came and said, we think this is a good time to put it out. And we just kind of go along with it because no one knows what’s the best thing to do right now, because it’s such a strange situation.
So obviously since the last album, Dorian has left the band and you switched over the guitar. How has that change affected the dynamic of the band would you say?
I mean, in one way, I think that it was less of a dramatic change as people might think from the inside perspective of the band. Because me and Elin have always been the songwriters in the band and even going back like on the earliest Blues Pills songs, Dorian wasn’t in the band yet then either. So, in one way, making this album almost felt like we were back at the beginning. That it was sort of like going almost back to the even more original line up. And because of that, it was like, there’s no difference in how we sort of approach the songwriting. The big difference was just for me. When Dorian was in the band that his role was like, we wrote the songs, but when there was time for a solo, we could just sort of ask him to take it away, you know? And, of course, now it was sort of like, I just had to put some extra effort into practising lead guitar. So that was kind of the main thing.
So do you feel happier playing the guitar rather than bass? Where do you feel like you naturally fit?
It almost doesn’t sort of strike me that I’ve switched instruments – at least not yet. I don’t know if maybe when we start to play live it will hit me or something. But, since the whole songwriting process has been so similar to how it’s always been, it almost has barely felt like a big change yet. But maybe like when you’re standing there on stage, I’m getting to feel it. But, I don’t know, I can’t say I’m less happy or happier. It’s just sort of like that. I just want to keep doing the best I can and keep the band going and keep writing songs.
You were at the studio locked away for almost a year and it was your studio. You didn’t go out and hire a studio, it was your own analogue studio. Did that allow you to kind of really regroup and also the freedom to get things right the way that you wanted them?
Yeah, I think that it’s ended up giving the album a bit more of like a live/raw feeling too since we’re sort of recording it in the same way that you would normally record a demo. It felt like a lot less pressure compared to recording in a professional studio. I think no matter what, when you record in that situation, there’s always some sort of pressure because you know that it’s costing a lot of money and, you know you don’t have forever to do takes or whatever. So even in the times where there was plenty of time in there, there should be no pressure in a pro studio. Then there’s still always some sort of pressure more than when you’re just like recording yourself. So I think it affected the outcome.
In terms of the recording process for ‘Holy Moly’, how did it differ to that of ‘Lady In Gold – did you go analogue with the last album or was this like a kind of new approach?
The first two albums were like pure analogue, but this album was like the first time we did like a hybrid approach in some way. I guess because the album was like mixed by Andrew Scheps. And so, he mixes in the box and everything. So basically even if we wanted to do it all analogue, I don’t care actually, like at this point it’s not like anti-digital at all or anything, but either way eventually we were going to have to go into the computer because we would need to send him all the tracks to mix. And so, I mean it’s a lot of analogue gear used on the album, but it is like in the end it’s mixed on the computer.
You were instrumental in the recording of this album. I know you had some friends from The Hives getting involved as well. Is that a role that you relished – taking a bit more lead on the technical and recording side of things?
I mean, I liked it, but I think next time I like wouldn’t want to do it the same. Because as I said when we started that it wasn’t like the plan from the beginning, but it just happened that way. But next time we record an album, I would like to be able to just only focus on the music. But I think next time I will try to at least like to hire sound engineers or something.
So apart from the album moving dates, how much has the current pandemic altered the rest of your plans for this year?
A lot of touring was already booked, so it sort of turned all of that upside down. And so, I mean, that’s the main thing is that normally we would have been on tour all year long and now we’re just stuck at home.
How much are you guys looking forward to plugging back in and getting back out on the road?
Of course, I think we’re all excited for that. It’s one of those things where like, at the moment we have no idea when it’s happening. So it’s sort of a bit hard to get excited about it just right at this moment. But I think when we know when it’s going to be happening, then we’re going to get sort of pumped again and start to practice a lot again and get geared up to play shows.
Interview – Zack Anderson from Blues Pills – Words by Adam Kennedy