The London Souls draw from yesteryear to create some of today’s freshest rock music.
Tash Neal and Chris St. Hilaire – guitarist and drummer, respectively, for NYC duo The London Souls – had audacious plans for their 2011 self-titled debut record. When looking for a place to record, they found the one studio in the world best suited for their vintage rock sound.
That studio? Abbey Road, arguable the most famous recording studio in the world and the one forever iconicized by its most famous patrons, The Beatles.
The London Souls draw heavily on 60s and 70s psychedelia and arena rock for their raucous sound. Take a listen and you will hear hints of The Who and The Doors, with some Led Zeppelin, Cream, and The Beatles tossed in for good measure.
Last month saw the band release their second album, Here Come The Girls, a project that was almost derailed due to injuries received by guitarist Neal after a hit and run accident. Defying all odds, however, Neal was out of the hospital in just one week – not the months that had been predicted by doctors – and The London Souls were soon back out on the road as a lean, mean power duo.
I recently chatted with Chris St. Hilaire about recording at Abbey Road, traveling back in time, and what it means to have a London soul.
BRO – Your sound is steeped in 60s/70s rock and roll. If you could travel back in time and jam with one band on one song, who would it be?
CSH – It’s a trick question. My favorite recordings already have the best drumming on them, so if I were there I’d mess them up. I’d love to have been in the room for John Coltrane’s “Bye Bye Blackbird” or Band of Gypsy’s “Machine Gun,” though, just to take it in.
BRO – You recorded your first record at Abbey Road Studios. Inspring? Intimidating? A little of both?
CSH – Very inspiring. Not only to be there and take in the history, but to go to work every morning in that place and not feel like a tourist was pretty cool. Also working with Ethan Johns, who is insanely talented, was pretty incredible. We were very blessed with that whole trip. I only wish we there longer.
BRO – We are featuring “When I’m With You” on this month’s Trail Mix. What’s the story behind the song?
CSH – We fleshed that one out a few years back in a moldy basement underneath a bar in Williamsburg. Tash already had the lyrics and the changes together, so we spent a lot of time getting the right feel. The tambourine plays a big part in that track, as well as the floor tom, where I got do a a “I dig love” kind of part. Good song. Fun harmonies.
BRO – The drums/guitar combo is somewhat uncommon in a touring band. Because there are just two of you, does that add a level of pressure when performing live?
CSH – It is very uncommon, but people have done it. At first, I think there was pressure, because playing in bands all our lives with bass players, keyboard players, or multiple guitarists, set up a formula that’s hard to break. But, once we realized how much music was really happening between the two of us, it became pretty clear that it was the right move. It is actually quite natural at this point.
BRO – What does it mean to have a London soul?
CSH – To love tea, crumpets, roasted tomato, and all proper things of the Empire. God save the Queen.
The London Souls spend the rest of May and early June on the West Coast before heading to Europe for shows in Germany, France, Spain, Holland, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. Upon returning Stateside, the band is set up for a slew of festival dates across the country.
For more information on the band, tour dates, and how you can get the new record, slide over to the band’s website.
Also, be sure to check out “When I’m With You” on this month’s Trail Mix.