The first time Steven Ansell met Laura-Mary Carter, he stole her hat. He told her she would have to come to Brighton to reclaim it. “It took her about a year to come,” Steven remembers. “But when she did we began playing together. That’s how the band started. And, yes, she got her hat back.”
That was two years ago, since when Steven (22, drums and vocals) and Laura-Mary (23, guitar and vocals) have opened for Panic! At The Disco, Maxïmo Park, The Rumble Strips and Good Shoes, as well as releasing singles on five different labels. In the beginning they assumed they would recruit more band members, but then, as Steven puts it, “We thought, Fuck it! Just the two of us sounds good.”
He’s not wrong. . The thrusting guitars and thunderous drums sound like a more focussed version of grunge, but Laura-Mary’s bold, upbeat vocals are all her own and lend a dynamic feminine edge to songs such as new single It’s Getting Boring By The Sea . Meanwhile, when they share vocals the results have an eerie quality – see the otherworldly ADHD. The overall effect is not unlike PJ Harvey or Yeah Yeah Yeahs.
Both polite and almost elfin in person, they still puzzle over how they reached their sound. Steven explains: “We’re both into gnarly sounding American bands, somehow we ended up quite a poppy band. I never thought it would end up like that.”
Steven and Laura-Mary both grew up surrounded by music. Steven followed in his dad’s footsteps becoming a sound engineer, while Laura-Mary remembers hearing Elastica in primary school and being completely enthralled by the idea of girls with guitars. Steven toured with a variety of bands and Laura was fronting her own musical projects from the age of 14, most notably as Lady Muck.
Like The Maccabees and Jack Peñate, Blood Red Shoes design their own artwork , “I do all the drawings” says Laura-Mary, “and then he does all the boring graphics bits.” The DIY ethic extends to recording and producing their records themselves. “For the album, we’ve got the opportunity to work with some amazing producers, but it I think it might just piss me off,” laughs Steven. “I’m such a control freak.”
As well preparing to record their debut album, the pair are due to travel to New York for their American debut. They’ve also been asked to support The Gossip, particularly thrilling for long-time fan Laura-Mary. “I just hope they like us,” she says.
How could they not?
Blood Red Shoes’ It’s Getting Boring By The Sea is out now on V2.
Written for the summer 2007 edition of Dummy.