The New York City-based London Souls have been hard at work gigging, touring and writing songs since 2008. Their eponymous debut album hit stores and iTunes on July 12, and it's been just the catalyst they’ve been waiting for.
The band has received mentions from MTV, Rolling Stone, Relix, The Wall Street Journal and Fox TV’s "Fearless Music." Their music was used for an Adidas commercial, and more recently, they’ve been highlighted by bestnewbands.com and the New York Daily News.
In an industry laden with agendas and messages, The London Souls are a refreshing bunch of guys; they’re clearly in it for the music, in it to learn, and in it to stretch themselves creatively and individually.
Call them blues, call them soul, call them rock, call them whatever you want; it doesn’t matter, says Tash, the band's lead singer and guitarist, “because people always have to compare art to something they know.” Just get used to the idea that these guys are here to stay, they’re here to make music, and they’re here to make you dance.
Guitar World recently spoke to Tash about influences, the new album and recording at the Abbey Road Studios in London.
GUITAR WORLD: This is your first record. After three years of playing, how does it feel?
Awesome. We’ve been working on the material for while. We finished it in 2010, so we’ve been waiting a while for people to hear it.
Did you have a sound — bands, styles, particular influences — you were going after when writing the record?
For the album, it’s sort of a culmination of all of us individually and all of our influences, bringing back together how we write songs. It’s less focused on a particular band or a particular form, or focused on the past, or even a generation. It’s more about the songwriting and making songs.
Would you say it’s more collaborative?
Yeah, definitely. You know, the guys bring so much to the songs — Kiyoshi on bass and Chris on drums. The parts they play make the songs what they are and how they sound.
You guys recorded the new record at Abbey Road Studios in London. Describe that experience.
It was unbelievable. I remember the first day walking in, and walking in the studio too, and just being short of breath and a little speechless. But it was also kind of good because, given the history of the room, we had to carve out our own identity within that, just record the songs and ignore the fact that a lot of people had recorded in the room — a lot of singers, musicians and people we respected — and make the best album we could and worry about the rest later.
Was there a turning point at the studio when you had to realize that?
It’s funny, because when we walked in there, we were a bunch of tourists. I was like, “I can’t believe we're not on a tour right now. We’re actually going here, to record. We’re supposed to be here.” We were so focused. We had a week before, sorting through the material, so focused on getting it done. We did all the tracks live in the room. So there wasn’t too much time where there wasn’t much happening. The whole time we had to be focused, also being like, “Wow, I can’t believe we’re here.”
Has your experience as a band been different since the album came out?
Just in the sense that people have been able to hear it, and it’s good to hear those reactions. People seem to really like it a lot. That’s good for us, because for so long people have been wanting to hear our music, and we’ve never had a first release. We just kept jumping along and playing shows. So it’s an amazing period we haven’t been in yet.
How was making this album different from playing live shows?
We’ve been all over the world for years, playing in various bands, trying to make it as musicians, playing all different sorts of genres before settling at this project. People maybe were just like, “They’re just a great live band.” I don’t think people knew what we could do in a studio. I’m happy with how people have been seeing it. So it’s very exciting.
Did it change your feelings about songwriting or any conceptions that you had when you had to sit down and put it into a specific form and time?
Before we made the album, we’d gone through a period where we were really focused on songwriting. We spent years trying to become a really good band, trying to play live shows and be the best musicians we could be. We wanted to explore the room that we could explore in the material for the songs on this album. And then after that, we really focused on making the best out of each song — editing, cutting out stuff, making sure every second is worth listening to, as opposed to settling on a groove here or there and just playing it out. It wasn’t a matter of wanting really short songs. If we wanted to write an awesome song that was eight minutes long, we probably could [Laughs]. We wanted to make the most out of each song we had.
Critics and reviewers like to describe you guys as straight-up rock 'n' roll with inspiration spanning all genres. What do you think about that?
For people to comprehend what we do, they sort of have to compare art to something else and find a box to fit it in. I think all influences are irrelevant. When I first heard rock 'n' roll, it seemed like the most free genre. If something’s rock 'n' roll, you can do any kind of song within that, and you can approach it with that attitude. I love that as a genre, and I love it if people want to say we’re straight-up rock 'n' roll [Laughs]. I’m not mad at them.
What's next for you guys?
Play as much as we can to support this album and get as many people to listen to it. Work hard, write songs — better songs — try to get better and see where it takes us.
The London Souls is available now.