Interview with Louis and the Shakes: ‘It’s such an appropriate song after a year of lockdown’
by Sara Seddon at The Bucket Playlist
Earlier this month, London-based bluesy rock band, Louis and the Shakes, released the first single, ‘How Badly Do You Want It?’ from their upcoming album of the same name, a boisterous, anthemic track with more than a nod to the Wild West and their love of Americana.
The band comprises Louis Antoniou on lead vocals, Jamie Lawson on lead guitar, Manny O’Donnell on drums and Will Finnerty on bass, who have been playing together for around two years. Antoniou met Finnerty at one of his solo gigs, who went on to introduce him to Lawson and O’Donnell. Their name was inspired by Australian rock band, Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds: ‘There was a lot of to-ing and fro-ing with the name,’ Antoniou laughed. ‘I said something about liking the name Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds. It’s medieval, deep rooted in a traditional vibe. I liked the idea of ‘The Shakes’ there was something mysterious to it. I think our name has a soulful and rocky vibe that can adapt to future sounds and that’s important to us as we’re so eclectic in our influences and ideas – it’s all encompassing.’
‘How Badly Do You Want It?’ blends indie rock with Antoniou’s bluesy rocky vocals, which are underpinned by the fierce tremolo of the guitar and the power of the rolling sound of the drums as well as the backing vocals with a ‘tribal’ feel. Lyrically, the song is encouraging the listener to keep going, keep believing and never give up, which will resonate after the strangest year that many of us have lived through.
‘There are so many meanings behind it, there are so many things people want after a year in lockdown, aren’t there?’
‘It’s such an appropriate song after a year of lockdown,’ Antoniou said. ‘It was the first song in the locker, crying out to be recorded. A couple of the guys in the band weren’t convinced but our bassist pushed it over the edge. There are so many meanings behind it, there are so many things people want after a year in lockdown, aren’t there? Contact with other people, a summer of love, living it up! This song’s also saying that we’ll come out of all this, so do you want to be on this journey with us?’
It’s a deeply personal track for the band, not least because they had a talk at the beginning of 2019 about what they wanted and where they were going, according to Antoniou: ‘As a band, you have to have that talk. I want this (musical success) so I wrote it about the band and also about the inner questions I was asking myself. It’s a bit of a timeless song which can mean different things to different people. We can’t wait to play it live, with the claps and the hooks. The funky middle eight wasn’t even in the original version. I write the spine of the song and take it to the guys. Jamie just started riffing it and we thought “This is gold, we have to keep it!”‘
The track was produced by Michael Smith, who has also produced on tracks for Wolf Alice and Weird Milk, and was mastered by Pete Maher, who has mastered an array of acts such as U2, Jack White, The Killers & Noel Gallagher.
Their album, also titled How Badly Do You Want It?, is set for release in September and comprises 12 tracks, including the title track and ‘Snake Hips’, which was released as a single last year. The whole album essentially tells the story of a gunslinger’s journey to a little town in the Wild West and the girl he meets there, a narrative that is apparent if you listen to the tracks in their running order.
‘We’re so tight on this record, Manny’s thumping hypnotic drumbeat, Jamie’s eerie echoey guitar tones and ear-gasmic solo’
In April, they’ll release the third single from the album, ‘Losing My Mind’: ‘It started out as a song about lockdown but morphed into something else,’ Antoniou said. ‘I wrote it two weeks into the first lockdown, I was bored very quickly!,’ he laughed. ‘I was also writing a lot, I went on a bit of a spree! ‘Losing My Mind’ is about a year to the day.
The chorus was ultimately lockdown related but I didn’t want to make a ‘lockdown’ song. When I wrote it, I was piecing together the album concept and narrative, so I developed the track to be about the girl. It’s the first song on the album where the girl gets introduced. I love this song and it’s a standout track for me on the album. We’re so tight on this record, Manny’s thumping hypnotic drumbeat, Jamie’s eerie echoey guitar tones and ear-gasmic solo. Will’s bass helps push the track along nicely and then you got this gnarly dirty, scuzzy riff I play – the hook. It’s ear candy for the indie masses that’s for sure!’
If their music could feature on any show, he’d love to hear it on Peaky Blinders: ‘Our music is similar, that kind of badass, empowering, zero fucks given! That would be be brilliant!’
A longer version of this interview will run in September when the album comes out.
(Photo from left to right: Will, James, Louis and Manny)
This story first appeared on: https://inthebucketplaylist.com/ on March 18th 2021