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The London Souls
classic sound in the city
by: David Pitz - October 8, 2007

Few bands so young have any business brandishing the mighty musical chops that The London Souls do. Then again, few bands have the opportunity to record the kind of sonically supreme record that these young lads (all of whom are between 20 and 22 years old) just did. I sat down with Tom Cumming (guitar, singer), Kiyoshi Matsuyama (bass, singer), Tash Neal (guitar, singer), and Chris St.Hillaire (drums, singer) as they were putting the final touches on their debut album at Legacy Recording Studios last week.

Your music really pays homage to an impressive who's who of classic rock acts of the 60's and 70s...Which of these artists are most dear to you and how do they continue to influence you today?

Tash – I think when you talk about what is important to us, you have to talk about artists like Led Zeppelin, the Allman Brothers Band...Eat a Peach in particular…Stevie Wonder, the James Gang, Funk 49, and Derrick and the Dominoes as well.

Chris – Once during recording, we were all watching "How the West Was Won"..."Moby Dick" in particular. And all I can remember is walking into the studio just trying to vaguely channel what we were just watching while doing the take. I was completely locked into some kind of zone...like I was playing the Royal Albert Hall. That's the kind of thing these records can do. And they continue to influence our sound in a variety of ways.

When you first entered a studio environment, what was it you were hoping to achieve? Describe the experience of stepping into a professional studio for the first time.

Tash – We actually only intended on recording a demo when we started. But when we were able to lay down eight tracks during the first session, and an additional seven tracks a month later, we realized we were making a full-length album. I suppose the fact that the record isn't overly produced made it possible. Sure, we wanted it to be a professional sounding recording. But we also wanted to avoid the modernized approach a lot of bands are taking nowadays. Our focus was to record just two guitars, drums, bass, and vocals in a live recording environment. No samples, no programming, no tricks, no bullshit.

NYC draws a ton of transplanted bands into the local scene from all over the country. As locals, what has this city taught you about navigating the scene?

Kyoshi – The great thing about New York City is it forces you to grow very quickly as a band. Every venue works a little differently, so you have to constantly be on your toes and adapt to where it is you are playing. It definitely demands a unique sense of discipline in a way. Fortunately, a lot of our show is completely improvised, so this isn't a problem for us.

There is an undeniable swagger about your band. And you all strike me as incredibly ambitious. What is it you hope to accomplish with The London Souls?

Tash – Well, we want more than just the few people we have pushed the record to on 42nd street to hear our record. We want to tour, and we want the right label to put the record out. Just who that is? That is a very good question. The thing about the majors vs. the independents is that they (the majors) obviously have the money to put something out quickly and efficiently. They have a giant machine behind them, so, I guess I feel they might as well push something that is good right? Unfortunately, they don't. And a lot of the bands they do throw out there just don't seem to get it. They don't understand that rock and roll is meant to be a filter for a ton of different inspirations. It is not just, "Well, we have a synth, we wear eye liner, and we're all wearing the same suit...so we're rock." That kind of thing is ridiculous. There is so much more to it than that.

So how does it make you feel when bands like The Killers are viewed as the ones waiving the flag for rock music right now?

Kyoshi -I guess I would ask…Do people really think that? I mean, are there really people who truly believe in what these bands are doing? It's corporate rock and it is completely shoved down the consumer's throat. I mean, when I read in a magazine article that those are bands like them are hardest rocking bands in the biz today I think…"Well, who says that"?

What is it you hope people will take away from your live show?

Tash – I just hope people relate with what it is we are doing. I hope it hits them in the sweet spot. And I hope they realize we are not trying to flaunt what we can do. We're real. We are just a couple of guys playing music for no other reason than the fact that we love it. One of the most rewarding things is when we are playing some tiny place, and the waitress comes up to us and says something like "You know, I see a lot of bands all the time...And I like what you guys do." There is just no bullshit to a compliment like that.



 
 

"One of the most rewarding things is when we are playing some tiny place, and the waitress comes up to us and says something like "You know, I see a lot of bands all the time...And I like what you guys do." There is just no bullshit to a compliment like that."


The London Souls
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what it is

A modern take on classic rock