Interview: The Blues Arcadia “Memphis Soul and Chicago Blues from Stax to Chess”

Interview: The Blues Arcadia “Memphis Soul and Chicago Blues from Stax to Chess”

Hailing from Brisbane Australia The Blues Arcadia combines the legendary soul of Stax and Motown with the power of the Chicago and Memphis Blues. The Blues Arcadia recently released their debut EP and this band brings us especially live some old-fashioned soul stomp revival.

Their cover of Freddie King’s “Big Legged Woman”, for examplee is great and shows this band can groove like the old dogs of blues and soul. This November I spoke with Chris and Alan about their new EP, their inspiration and about the blues scene in Australia.

Trademark song ‘Rockin’ Chair’

To get in the groove of their music you should listen to ‘Rockin’ Chair’, which is a song where all their talent come together. The vocals are clean an bluesy, Alan gets to high notes easily and the rhythm department is tight like the backbone of a band should be. On top of that you get some nice guitar solos.

What are your main influences and which artist inspired the sound of the band?

Yeah, one of the great things about writing songs collectively is that people will channel all kinds of stuff through the song-writing process. I think if we listed all our influences it would be rather long, but we are influenced by classic soul/blues artists such as Otis Redding, Sam Cooke, Booker T, Freddie King, B.B. King, Etta James and Wilson Pickett… a lot of the Stax sound, for sure. But we are also influenced by New Orleans funk, The Fabulous Thunderbirds,Tedeschi and Trucks, Jon Cleary and a whole host of modern artists too. The main thing is that the song determines the sound of the band, and our songwriting is to be the direction of the band in the longer term. We want our own voice within the genre without being restricted by it, butwe are a blues/soul band so we do write that way. It has to be natural and not contrived. We want to dig a little deeper every time we play and record.

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How did you experience the recording process for this EP?

Recording was great! We wanted to capture the sound of the band live and I think that’s what we’ve achieved. All recorded totally live, with no overdubs. It was also made possible by having a great recording space to do it in. The Barn Recording Studios is just that – we all just sat around and rolled the tape and went for it in this cool converted barn just outside Brisbane. All the songs were recorded within three or four takes, with the second take being a keeper most of the time. Some of the tracks (“Time and Again”, “Rockin’ Chair”) were first takes. “Time and Again” is a great example of what can happen in recording process.The original arrangement wasn’t really working, so after a chat which almost led to the song being dropped, we gave it over to Parmis Rose, our piano player. She came up with what you hear now…. it was so exciting to hear the song evolve into this beautiful piano intro which really moved all of us, and subsequently influenced the rest of the arrangement really quickly.

What about the future plans of the band? Will there be a tour?

Well, for the immediate future we’re going to promote this EP as an introduction to Blues Arcadia. We’re organising an east coast tour of Australia as I write this. Living on an island, it’s only natural that also have our sights set on touring overseas too. Alan and myself are not originally from Australia – I’m from the UK, and Al comes from Ireland, so to play in our respective countries with our Aussie bandmates would be a great thrill.

How do you experience the blues and music scene in Brisbane or Australia for blues/soul?

The Blues/Soul scene in Australia is small but very vibrant. There is a lot of talent over here that pays great respect to the music that America has given us, while putting a Australian twist to it!

What are the future plans of the band? Will there be a tour?

Well, for the immediate future we’re going to promote this EP as an introduction to Blues Arcadia. We’re organising an east coast tour of Australia as I write this. Living on an island, it’s only natural that also have our sights set on touring overseas too. Alan and myself are not originally from Australia – I’m from the UK, and Al comes from Ireland, so to play in our respective countries with our Aussie bandmates would be a great thrill.

Follow Blues Arcadia on Facebook and Bandcamp here!

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