About Blues Pills
An international female-fronted quartet based in Sweden, Blues Pills' vamp-heavy sound weds 21st century neo-psychedelia, metallic blues, retro soul, and hard rock. A small handful of demos, singles, and EPs for Crusher Records showcased a band in search of a sound. They toured incessantly for nearly two years, played everywhere from cafés and taverns to open-air festivals with metal bands. The group signed to Nuclear Blast for their charting, self-titled 2014 long-player. It won them a spot at the year's Crossroads Festival, where their performance was filmed. Blues Pills made their international breakthrough with 2016's Lady in Gold. It topped the pop album charts in Germany and landed inside the Top 40 across Northern and Western Europe. They toured internationally in support of the album, wowing audiences at South by Southwest and elsewhere.
Comprising members from Sweden, the U.S., and France, this retro-flavored blues-hard rock quartet were originally founded as a trio in 2011. That year, the former rhythm section of Iowa act Radio Moscow -- Zack Anderson and Cory Berry -- recorded a demo with vocalist Elin Larsson in her Swedish hometown of Orebro. Then, while on tour in France, Anderson and Berry met a gifted 16-year-old guitarist named Dorian Sorriaux and invited him to join the band. Excited by what Sorriaux brought to their sound, the group issued their debut EP, Bliss, under the name Blues Pills in 2012; their moniker was inspired by the name of a friend's blog that focused on music of the '60s and '70s. The single "Black Smoke" followed later that year, and 2013 brought appearances at prestigious European festivals such as Roadburn in Tilburg in the Netherlands and DesertFest in Berlin. The band managed to tie in a 2013 German tour with their itinerary, and when representatives of that country's Nuclear Blast label witnessed a handful of their shows, Larsson and co. secured a record deal.
Blues Pills' first release on the label, the Devil Man EP, saw the light of day that October and was produced by Don Alsterberg, who had previously worked with fellow Swedish rock acts Horisont and Graveyard. While Larsson claimed that her soul-inspired vocals were influenced by artists such as Big Mama Thornton, Etta James, and Aretha Franklin, the press continued to compare Blues Pills, as a whole, to acts such as Big Brother & the Holding Company, Led Zeppelin, and Free. When it came to recording their self-titled debut long-player, the group retained Alsterberg for the album's warm, all-analog sessions, which only reinforced the retro nature of their sound. On its release in July 2014, Blues Pills hit the Top Five in Germany and also charted in Austria, Switzerland, the U.K., and the U.S., where it peaked at number four on the Hard Rock albums chart.
After rigorous touring across Europe, Berry left the band and was replaced by drummer André Kvarnström. The group's concert at the underground German Freak Valley Festival was issued as Blues Pills Live. Re-entering the studio at the end of the year, the band announced a second album, Lady in Gold, in late April 2016; the title track was issued as a single in May. The soulful full-length -- again produced by Alsterberg -- arrived in August during Blues Pills' European tour and topped the U.S. Hard Rock albums chart. In October, the quartet played a sold-out show for French fans at Le Trianon, and the performance was released the following year as Lady in Gold: Live in Paris.
Sorriaux left amiably in 2018 and the band took a short hiatus to regroup. During that period, they built their own studio in an old factory in a rural area in Närke, Sweden. They named it Lindbacka Sounds and filled it with analog recording equipment. Exhausted after years of touring the globe, when Blues Pills returned to making music, they went back to basics. The peaks and valleys over the previous few years lead to the composing of a more autobiographical album. Larsson, Anderson, and Kvarnström wrote and recorded demos and finished tracks as a trio. Anderson doubled on bass and guitar. In the fall via social media, the band announced they had hired bassist Kristoffer Schander, while Anderson claimed the guitar chair permanently.
In March 2020, to commemorate International Women's Day, Blues Pills released the anthemic "Proud Women." The single registered at streaming and on radio charts across Europe. They followed it with the single "Low Road" in April. Those songs foreshadowed the band's return to the straightforward blues-based hard rock approach of their debut. In August, Blues Pills released their third full-length studio outing, Holy Moly! Self-produced, the set was mixed by Grammy-winning engineer Andrew Scheps. ~ James Wilkinson & Thom Jurek