Pearl Handled Revolver is the rockin’ U.K. blues band that’s spreading their hard hitting style across the British countryside. They play a gritty, dirty, psychedelic organ blues that demands your attention, and your most primal dance moves. check out what they had to say when they swung by the back porch!
How long have you been making music?
Simon and Lee have been working together for about 12 years in various bands. We did a couple of years with various musicians in the embryonic stages of Pearl Handled Revolver but the current line up has been together about 2 years,
Was there a particular song you heard that made you kind of say “I want to do that”!
About 5 years ago Lee and Simon discovered an American soul singer called Bettye Lavette on a BBC TV show called ‘Later With Jools Holland’. She had this amazing voice and the band had a real dirty soul/blues sound. They performed a cover of the Lucinda Williams song ‘Joy’…. it was amazing. From that moment we decided to drop all the other musical projects we were doing at the time and start a new project. It was to be based around the dirty sound of Lee’s vocal and Simon’s unique Hammond organ style. Pearl Handled Revolver was born.
What was the first music (Record, Tape or CD) that you bought with your own money?
Van Halen, Jump (single on Vinyl).
Who has been your biggest musical influence?
As a band there are so many, from Captain Beefheart, Tom Waits, Creedance Clearwater Revival, The Doors, Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, John Martyn, Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters, Bettye Lavette, Pink Floyd…..so many but you get the idea . We were lucky enough to meet Jon Lord (Organist with Deep Purple) at our first ever PHR gig, not only is he a great player but a real nice guy too. To meet one of your biggest influences at your first gig has got to be a good sign….especially as he liked it! Maybe we’ll get to meet Bettye sometime, certainly hope so.
How do you think today’s blues scene compares to that of say 15-20 years ago or longer?
We would like to feel that the blues is progressing, it is great to see bands like The Black Keys with their new take on the blues and guys like Gregg Allman still producing fresh sounding blues with soul. We had Bettye Lavette, an amazing R’nB soul singer, becoming “Best Female Blues Artist – 2004”….What is interesting is that blues audiences, certainly in the UK, appear to be split over the virtues of this progression. Some embrace “change” while others run as with most things in life! Yet clearly, whenever the blues genre is opened up to a broader interpretation, the blues world enjoys the benefits. Today’s blues scene seems to be thriving, we’re glad to say. We’d like to think that too, might be one of the benefits of the genre’s ability to evolve…
What is the blues to you? Can it even be defined?
The blues can not be defined. It can only be felt when played from the soul.
You have a distinct, unmistakable sound. Where does that come from?
Each member of the band has different musical influences, when you put them all together in the melting pot out comes something new and different…. a blend of it all.
As an English band our musical “common ground”, ironically, was the blues. From the earliest recordings it was clear that Lee’s voice coupled with Simon’s authentically gritty organ riffs screamed the blues! But we were constantly looking for ways to push those attributes to their creative limits. What really brings it all together so well is that each of us bring our own particular viewpoint. Once Andy and Oli introduced their bass and twin guitar combo in with Chris’ expressive flare on the drums we knew we weren’t confined to contemporary blues….instead we had a real chance of creating something quite original with it.
How helpful has the internet been to you in spreading your music to a worldwide audience?
The internet has been essential in getting our music heard worldwide. It all started with Myspace and we now use Reverbnation and Facebook to get our music out there. Perhaps the most useful has been You Tube. With a mix of full feature track promos and live gig recordings we were able to show the energy of the bands performances, which thousands of people have now watched. We are also being played on radio stations in every continent, many of which are stations that broadcast online. Not only that but we can now sell our music through iTunes, Amazon, Rhaposdy etc. to anybody in any country. How would we have achieved this before the internet?
What advice could you give someone just starting out and trying to make it in the music business?
Don’t try to make it in the music business…. just make the music that makes you happy. Never loose sight of why you first chose to play an instrument…. because it was fun! The moment we stopped playing what we thought people wanted to hear, and started playing music we wanted to hear….it all came together. The music, the fans, the gigs, everything.
Is there any artist that you have heard in the last year that really blew you away? If so what was it that drew you in?
We love discovering music, old and new. We are really enjoying Gregg Allmans new album Low Country Blues, but we also recently discovered The Allman Brothers first album which blows us away. We also love what The Black Keys are doing. Another name that springs to mind is Jack White (originally of the White Stripes), we love the concept of his band ‘The Dead Weather’, which has strong blues and rock elements.
We were introduced to the extraordinary harp/vocal play of ‘Son of Dave’ . Sometime last year Chris played us his album which has all that we love about great harp playing….the dirt, the expression and it’s bringing echoes of the all time great’s like Sonny Boy and Howlin’ Wolf into the present. we’d recommend a listen!
I was watching a Pearl Handled Revolver video, the show looks like a real good time. Is it really that much fun?
It really is that much fun… yes…. We try to make each show special, we put a lot into our performance and we know that if we are enjoying ourselves the audience is too.
When can we expect to see you here in the states?
There are talks about getting us over in the not too distant future with the help of our USA partners ‘King Mojo Records’. We’ve had tremendous feedback from the US so far. Add to that your 50% contribution to our fan base and it’s clear a visit is in order! Of course we’ll keep you all posted when we have something firm dates to announce….watch this space!
Last question….what is the thing that makes you keep going in regards to playing music?
That’s an easy one. We love writing music, we love performing, we love recording and we have a great time doing so. We also really appreciate the support we get from our fans. It’s a great feeling when you realize that people really get what you’re doing. Especially if what you are doing is expressing yourself musically. How remarkable it is that five people can work together to create something as artistic as a piece of music, let alone be applauded and hopefully paid to do so! We sincerely doubt that any of us could do without playing music and know that we all feel quite privileged to have the opportunity to do what we love.
Long may it continue.