One of the annoying parts of being in the cubicle workforce is all the co-workers’ who semi-fake complain about Mondays. This week was a legit exception as a boozy Sunday
afternoon day and night watching NFL games left me mentally limping into the office. Ugh. Of course six different people are scheduling morning meetings. That’s why I was thrilled to see my Inbox light up that the Brooklyn, NY, dynamic duo of Tash Neal and Chris St. Hilaire, who make up the band, The London Souls, were available for a three way conference call to talk music at 2pm. Mondays are the best.
The London Souls have had a busy 2016 summer touring, which included festival gigs at Bonnaroo, Mountain Jam, and Governor’s Ball. Their music is a modern day punch for those convinced Led Zepplin, the Rolling Stones, Cream, and The Eagles are the last rock bands with soulful melodies, catchy riffs and ranging vocals. Listen to this ‘Jam in the Van’ recording to taste for yourself. It’s gripping. It’s awesome. It shuts up whoever the peppered satellite radio DJs are that continually pump out that ‘rock is dead.’ The London Souls have a cavalry of hits like this and their live performances delivering it are a must see.
Thanks again to guitarist/vocalist, Tash Neal, and drummer/vocalist, Chris St. Hilaire, for the time.
Kevin: One thing I do before interviewing anyone is google and read as many previous interviews as I can to not ask the same questions over and over. Man…I think I feel angry reading the number of times you’ve had to answer “Who are your influences?” and “How did your band get its’ name?” (here, here, here, here, here, here, …)
Chris: HAHAHAHA. Thank you. Appreciate that. There’s a lot of lazy journalism out there for sure.
Tash: (laughing) Wow. Thanks!
Ok, so first question…what kind of schedule do you have for a new album?
Chris: “We’re hoping to release the next one in January . We’ve been working most of the Spring because we were touring most of the summer. We’re pretty much in the mixing stages now. So, it should be ready for release in January. So far, we have 14 songs on it, but I don’t know what the final result will be. Sometimes things get cut depending on the length or whatever it is.”
Do you have a name for it?
Chris: “We do. (laughing). But it’s tentative.”
Is the sound a lot like Here Come the Girls? Heavy guitar riffs, melodies. What can we expect?
Chris: “It’s an evolution. It’s got some of that. But there’s a lot of new sound on there too. There’s a lot of growth. We got to explore a lot of stuff with overdubs, production stuff, and vocal layers. There’s a lot more vocal harmonies layers. There’s a lot more keyboards and percussion layers. I think it’s a richer sounding album.”
Who do you bring in for the horns and keys?
Chris: “We play everything.”
Tash: “The fun thing is Chris and I write together. We have two special guests on this record but otherwise it’s Chris and I playing everything.”
Who are the special guests?
Chris: “One of them is not on it yet but he’s down. One is a harmonica player and one is a percussionist. We’re siked about it. One isn’t kind on it yet, so I probably shouldn’t list him yet (laughing) until he’s actually on the record.”
Chris: “This one was between Studio G in Brooklyn. And also down at the Derek Trucks’ studio in Jacksonville.”
Tash: “Swamp Raga!!”
Chris: “We also recorded a little bit at The End in Brooklyn. And some tracking in the Bunker, too. We kind of hopped around.”
So I noticed that Here Come the Girls finished recording in 2012 but wasn’t released until 2015. Why the three-year gap?
Tash: “It was a lot. Basically, we recorded the album and had everything done by the Spring of 2012 and then we went back on the road and toured. We just changed bass players and then I got in a car accident, and we were off the next eight months. With that uncertainty, we really didn’t know what the future looked like. Really the question was if we could do it. Our first tour back was with the North Mississippi All-stars. Then we just kept getting awesome and more awesome tours. Then Chris and I started writing again. So that was the soonest we could release it the right way.”
Chris: “And it wasn’t the right opportunity. There was a lot of quackery that came along that wasted our time. We’d have to start from scratch every six months. “Ok, that didn’t work.” We didn’t want to have such a delay and then have a mediocre release. So, we had to wait for the right situation to come along. Then eventually something that was good enough came along.”
Tash: “As soon as we released it we already had songs for this record brewing, which is why we already have 14 tracks recorded, which I think is a lot.”
There’s no quackery with 14 songs.
Chris: (laughing) “We have no shortage of material. We’re always writing and creating. Usually what ends up holding us back is often the industry side of the thing. The way things are done is not very streamlined. You kind of have to piece it together. With our creative side together, we can work really quickly. It takes forever for others to get their shit together.”
I interviewed this band in July that had finished their album in the Spring, but the suits don’t want to release it until next February for whatever reason….
Chris: “And that happens all the time to so many bands! Even at the top.”
So you guys are hitting the road with Sturgill Simpson this Fall. That’s an interesting pairing. How did that come about?
Chris: “A couple things. He’s been a fan of us for a while, and we know a couple people in his band. We’ve been through Nashville a bunch of times and have a lot of friends there. And he’s genuinely a fan. And we’re genuinely fans as well. He has a really unique voice. We’ve toured with a lot of people. We’ve toured with Lenny Kravitz, different kinds of rock bands, jam bands, and a lot of different scenes. Country music…the kind of thing he’s doing. We haven’t really played for that type of audience before, but we think they’ll like it. What we do is pretty universal. It’s not like a niche, hard-rock thing.”
Tash: “Good song writing and good relationships. Those are the things we love.”
Can we expect you to share the stage with each other?
Tash: “Maybe. We have no expectations but hopefully…that would be amazing.”
Chris: “Yea, that would be super cool. We’re siked to get back to the West Coast as well.”
If Sturgill can collaborate with Stephen Colbert on a Waffle House song….surely he can with two professionals like yourselves.
Tash: (laughing). “Yea…that’s awesome. I didn’t even see that.”
Your Bonnaroo set was amazing. Did you see an immediate buzz in fans or media attention after that set?
Tash: “That was our first time playing Bonnaroo. We were stoked to play it, but we already had European festivals booked. It always helps playing something awesome. Chris and I don’t normally check up on ourselves like that. Every now and then someone would come up and say we saw you before, which is great.”
When you two are at Bonnaroo and see Kamasi Washington or J. Cole, do you geek out or quickly talk to each other about how to get him to join you on stage?
Tash: “I mean, we love Kamasi Washington.”
Chris: “We would have but we were only there that day. We had to fly to Europe like literally the next day. The day we played was the opening day so the main stages weren’t open yet. We were only there a couple hours so we really didn’t get to see anyone really exciting that was going to be at the festival. Maybe next time.”
Tash, the collaboration song “Can’t Hold Me Down” you did with Griz. I saw he was at Bonnaroo the same time as you. Is that how you met?
Tash: “We actually know each other through mutual friends in Denver, Colorado, and we work with some people that have the same friends. He just kind of reached out. He’s a really cool dude.”
OK, so if you had the power to bring back Prince, John Lennon, or George Harrison…who would it be and why?
Tash: “Wowwww. That’s a great question! Thanks for asking that.”
Chris: (laughing) “Wow. Uhhh. Ok. I would say George Harrison. Not enough people are saying “I Dig Love” right now. It’s a song of his. John and George. Their message is love, so either one. Prince’s message is love too, but he had a pretty good run I think. So, I’m picking all three. (laughing). It’d be cool to see Prince come back so he can shut up all the bad covers I’ve been seeing of Purple Rain. ”
Tash: “He’d be really upset!!!!!”
Chris: I’d love to see his reaction. “C’mon everybody!!! What are you doing!??!”
Tash: “That’s a really good answer!!!”
The London Souls Fall 2016 Tour – Schedule and Tix
OCT 14 FRI – The Parish, Austin, TX
OCT 15 SAT – In The Woods Fest, Woodlands, TX
OCT 27 THU – Canopy Club, Urbana, IL
OCT 28 FRI – Colectivo Coffee, Madison, WI
OCT 29 SAT – Martyrs, Chicago, IL
NOV 3 THU – eTown, Boulder, CO
** Shows with Sturgill Simpson **
NOV 4 FRI – Paramount Theatre, Denver, COSOLD OUT
NOV 5 SAT – Paramount Theatre, Denver, COSOLD OUT
NOV 6 SUN – Boulder Theater, Boulder, COSOLD OUT
NOV 8 TUE – The Wilma, Missoula, MTSOLD OUT
NOV 9 WED – Knitting Factory, Spokane, WA
NOV 11 FRI – Paramount Theatre, Seattle, WASOLD OUT
NOV 12 SAT – Keller Auditorium, Portland, OR
NOV 13 SUN – The Cascade Theatre, Redding, CASOLD OUT
NOV 15 TUE – The Wiltern, Los Angeles, CA
NOV 16 WED – The Wiltern, Los Angeles, CA
NOV 18 FRI – Fox Theater, Bakersfield, CA
NOV 19 SAT – Fox Theater, Oakland, CASOLD OUT
NOV 20 SUN – Fox Theater, Oakland, CA
DEC 1 THU – Tellus360, Millersville, PA
DEC 3 SAT – Narrows Center for the Arts, Fall River, MA
FEB 6 MON – Keeping the Blues Alive at Sea III (Feb 6-10), Tampa, FL