Blood Red Shoes’ debut album, Box Of Secrets, feels like a long time coming: the duo, Laura-Mary Carter (vocals, guitar) and Steven Ansell (drums, vocals) got together back in 2005 following the dissolution of their then bands. Since then the Brighton-based pair have released a series of well-received dancefloor-friendly indie-rock singles, punchy and pulsing, but the long-player’s always been kept in the shadows. Why?
Label issues, basically: long story short, V2 (the band’s home) was absorbed by Universal, and subsequently the release of Box Of Secrets rearranged to fit an already hectic schedule. But now it’s here, as good as: you can get your hands on the LP this Monday, April 14.
Ahead of the album’s release, DiS invited Steven and Laura-Mary to run us through its tracks, one by one. And they have! Awesome. Enjoy this exclusive insight into Box Of Secrets…
‘Doesn’t Matter Much’
Says Steven: We wrote this about a year and a half ago now... it started really simply, we turned up at our practice space and this just came out straight away - Laura picked up the guitar and hit the main riff instantly and the drum part is the first thing I started playing to jam along with her. It didn’t change much at all from that first jam really. A lot of people think the lyrics are "no no no, yeah, yeah" but actually the lyrics are "low low low", then "find a reason why". It's about feeling lost and confused, and let down by the people in positions of authority who think they know how to explain your life to you. The fact is that teachers and parents and all the rest of that grown up world don't really know shit about who you are and how best to live your life, and it's about seeing the holes in that, but also realising that once you reject that, you have no guidance to follow so you feel really confused about who you are and what you're supposed to do with yourself.
‘You Bring Me Down’ (originally available digitally via DiS)
Says Laura-Mary: The writing process to this is quite interesting. I was at my folks’ in London for two weeks looking after their dog whilst they were on holiday and I came up with the verses to this song, with lyrics and melody. It’s about the dead-end job I was in and how basically I just wanted to play music but everything seemed so impossible at the time for us to follow our dreams. On the phone Steve told me he had been going to the studio to play drums and had come up with a drum part he wanted to try out! So when we got together to practise we both played our bits we had written apart and they just worked together. It was really exciting; we then jammed around with it and the other parts just fell into place. Steve wrote the lyrics in the chorus. A lot of people think it’s about feeling trapped in a relationship and that is partly true, but it’s also about feeling trapped in a life but you would rather be doing something else! And time feels as though it is running out. It took us ages to get the melody right in the chorus because we kept singing out of tune. We recorded it for a single very soon after we wrote it and I remember struggling with it because it was so new. But on the album it’s re-recorded with a much heavier sound and obviously it sounds like it’s meant to now because we have played it live so much, we shaped it up and gave it a new lease of life that we felt it deserved.
Video: ‘You Bring Me Down’ (original version)
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‘Try Harder’ (BRS released two singles on the Try Harder label)
Says Laura-Mary: ‘Try Harder’ is a complete blur, I don’t remember when we wrote it. I know it was in our studio and it started with that main riff (exactly how the song starts), Steve joined in and I guess it became a song. Sometimes when everything is so spontaneous it’s hard to think back to how we wrote songs because there was no plan or direction - it just sorta comes out. The verse lyrics are Steve’s and the chorus and “aaaa”s are mine. It’s about people who change to fit in, think they are cooler than everyone else and basically try way too hard to impress.
‘Say Something, Say Anything’
Says Steven: One of the last songs we wrote before we went to record the album, which is probably why it's one of our favourites. A good friend of ours called Boosterhead told me it sounds like a perfect combo of Blur and Sonic Youth, which to this day is my favourite compliment we've had. The beginning riff is in six repeats rather than eight which is something that us drummers (I think I can call myself that now) notice but if you ask Laura she doesn't care or know, she just thinks it sounds good. I think she has a thing about sixes because quite a few riffs she comes out with repeat in multiples of six. This is the only song we have where one of us wrote all of the lyrics, a special exception. I wrote them all right after my dad died from cancer in April 2007. It's just all the feelings and things that came into my head at the time and I tried to crowbar it into a lyrical shape when really I just wanted to scream over the whole thing until my throat bled. This was a fucking hard song to record and I'm thankful I'm a band with Laura-Mary because I don’t think I could have done it without her around. In the loudest part the lyric is "how long can you miss someone?" and I did a take where I lost it and started crying but I forced myself to leave it in the final mix. It really fucks with my head because I feel really exhibitionist to keep that shit in but at the same time, when I hear music, I want it to move me with as much intensity as possible and I can't see how you can make the point any stronger than that.
Video: ‘Say Something,Say Anything’
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‘I Wish I Was Someone Better’
Says Laura-Mary: The main riff in this song was actually the same riff from the last song I ever wrote for my old band, Lady Muck. I played it in a rehearsal with Steve once and he got excited and was like, "What’s that?" I explained that it was an old song, I started singing the song and Steve asked if we could use it. Why not! I wrote the song, Lady Muck never recorded it but I always liked the riff and thought it was kinda wasted not being used any more. We then improvised with it and it then went in a different direction completely and it worked! The melody was slightly changed and some added and then all the lyrics are completely different. It’s not an ironic title; it really is a song about wishing you were someone better.
Video: ‘I Wish I Was Someone Better’
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‘Take The Weight’
Says Steven: I really like the name of this song, probably because it reminds me of a Hood song called ‘The Weight’ which I fucking love. Like most of our songs it's about frustration, anger, feeling trapped, wishing and knowing there should be more to life in general, and to your own life in particular. We stopped playing this live for a while in favour of playing the newest stuff on the album, but now we can play longer sets at our own shows, it's back in there. Our friends Peggy Sue and the Pirates pointed out that the vocal part in the middle is called a ‘round’ and we thought that's pretty neat, even though we wrote it by mistake because we both kept singing the part at the wrong time but we ended up liking the sound of it. When we recorded it, we overdubbed some really big muff-tastic all over the chorus, proper Nirvana style, and every time it kicked in our producer Mike Crossey would shout "Fuck off!" with a big grin. He seemed to like it when the guitars got really loud.
Says Steven: The oldest song on the album. We had a bit of a conundrum about whether to put this on, then we took a step back and thought about records we love, and we thought, if we weren't in the band, we'd really want and expect it to be on the album. So in that sense I guess it was a crowd-pleasing decision, eh? Sell-outs that we are. I'm glad though because we did this first take, live in a room, facing each other at about 3am after many many bottles of red wine and I think it has a really cool energy to it. Straight-up punk style, no messing about.
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‘This Is Not For You’
Says Laura-Mary: This was one of the last songs we wrote for the album. We came up with it in our rehearsal space in a jam (just like most of our songs) and I wasn’t sure about it. So we kinda forgot it. Then one day we were like, "Oh yeah, what about that song we kinda wrote?" I decided it was alright after playing it again. I wrote the lyrics, Steve wrote the verse melody and I wrote the chorus melody. The lyrics changed from our demo version when we got to the studio to do the album. Mostly because I thought they didn’t sit right and stuff was going on with me at the time that inspired the song's meaning. It’s about a failed relationship really. It’s about a time when you know when things aren’t right anymore but you put it to the back of your mind hoping it will somehow resolve itself. It rarely ever does but you still hold some hope. I guess it's a kinda conscious denial. It’s the most experimental song on the album, in terms of trying out layering of vocals and sounds. It’s also our favourite song on the album. We were inspired by Queens of the Stone Age whilst recording this song.
‘It’s Getting Boring By The Sea’
Says Steven: We wrote this in about ten seconds, another one of those songs that seemed to fall out of the sky. I don't even really remember it happening, I just remember being at our practise space and jamming around for ages, then at some point something occurred and we both started grinning and the song was just there, pretty much fully-formed. The lyrics are a reaction to the dickheads who called us sell-outs or thought that we weren't ‘punk’ anymore because we wrote a chorus or a song you can dance to. In my mind there are two kinds of punk kids: the real punk kids who understand the nature of freedom, and punk kids for whom punk is a type of clothes, a hair colour and a certain type of band, and anything outside of those parameters is no longer ‘punk’. That's a kind of restrictive idiotic point of view I just can't abide - it's the least punk thing since U2.
Video: ‘It’s Getting Boring By The Sea’
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Says Laura-Mary: This was written really late and we didn’t have any lyrics to go into the studio with except the chorus “NEVERMIND”, which obviously is Nirvana inspired. We had all the melodies but I was stressing a lot about the lyrics in the verses. But one day after heated phone calls with someone they kinda just came out. The lyrics are quite cutting and mean, which seemed to sit right with the song. I’d been listening to a lot of Hot Snakes and QOTSA and I think one of the riffs must have been a subconscious influence from them. It’s the new ‘ADHD’ in my opinion. The drums have the same kinda vibe, but this song sounds more rock.
‘Hope You’re Holding Up’
Says Steven: The first song we've ever had another person play on! We demo recorded our whole album ourselves on our own equipment before we recorded it for real, and on this song we tried out a violin part. Only we used a cheap keyboard string sound which sounded like The Killers or something... but we liked the melodic figure so we called up Harriet from Los Campesinos! and asked her to play it on the album. I'm really happy with it, it's like our attempt at ‘Tonight, Tonight’ by Smashing Pumpkins, ha ha. I like the fade-out ending because it gives a sense of something ongoing rather than really final last track.
Blood Red Shoes’ Box Of Secrets is released on April 14; the band can be found on MySpace HERE. They play live as follows (further dates on MySpace):
9 London King’s College
12 Bristol Thekla
13 Liverpool Barfly
14 Manchester Academy 3
16 Newcastle Academy 2
17 Aberdeen Tunnels
18 Glasgow ABC2