Laurence Jones is one of the top up and coming artists in today’s blues rock scene. Last year, Jones was listed in Blues Rock Review’s “10 Acts To Watch Under 30.” In September, Jones released the self-titled album, Laurence Jones Band. Blues Rock Review caught up with Jones to discuss the new album, and more.
The album features a cover of “Day Tripper.” What made you tackle that as a cover?
That song was all Gregory Elias’ idea. He came to us at the beginning of the preproduction and said to us I really want you to do this interesting song that I’ve got, and it’s from your friends from Liverpool. I said, it’s not the Beatles is it? He said, yeah, and at first I was quite worried about covering a Beatles song, but then he showed me the style that he wanted to do, which was have a Stevie Ray Vaughan feel to it and he played me a video of “Crossfire,” and it was amazing, and he was really inspired. He said I want to have that sort of feel throughout with the Beatles song. It was really fun thing to do in the studio and it’s going to be really fun to do live.
In what ways did producer Gregory Elias challenge you on this album?
He challenged me a lot. He told me to write a lot of songs. I wrote 60 to 70 songs for this album, had two years to do that. I think the biggest challenge was actually cutting down the songs because Gregory likes to get them to radio and he likes to get them punchy and straight to the point and make them slick. Sometimes it’s hard to do that, especially when you want a song between two to three a half minutes, which is what radio wants, so that was my biggest challenge that he gave me for the album. Gregory also did a lot of the structure for the songs, so it was getting my head around that and we were trying to be simple and I really got into the groove of it.
“I’m Waiting” is the single off the album. What’s the inspiration behind that song?
“I’m Waiting” is about being patient and waiting to show me the sign as some of my lyrics say. It’s almost like an explosion with the music. I wanted to have a song that was quite crazy and represent the lyrics in a way because it’s a quite frantic song and that’s sometimes what it makes you feel like when you’re waiting around all the time, so, yeah, the lyrics are drastic and so is the song. It’s fast and everyone is playing crazy, which is cool and it was definitely different to do a song like that.
Which song are you most proud of?
“Everything’s Gonna Be Alright” because that was the first song that I wrote for the album and that song shaped the whole album for me. That was really inspired by that British sound, like, Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton. As soon as I wrote that song I knew exactly what guitar sound I wanted for it. I knew exactly how I wanted the band to approach it and I guess that just carved the way for the album. It’s got such a positive feel to it and it’s quite major. It’s uplifting, the message is positive, everything’s gonna be alright, the music is happy, and that’s something I’ve mainly been on the bluesier side even with my lyrics, so I’m really proud that I’ve got a positive song out there to the world.
You’ve recorded your last few albums in the United States. How is recording in Miami?
We recorded at the old Sony studios on two records now. We’ve got a real structure in place now. We do preproduction with Gregory in Curacao in the Caribbean where he lives and we did that in February for two weeks and then we had a month off to learn and go over everything that Gregory had taught us over there and we picked the best 12 songs on the album and then we go over to Miami a month later in March and we went there for two weeks as well to record the album. The whole overall recording experience was great because in a way that studio is very modern. It’s a Grammy award-winning Latin studio where a lot of famous Latin American artists go and that was quite crazy. We got over there seeing some of the big stars there and they’ve got all their entourage and champaign in there and they open the door one day and they were like, who’s this band? And we’re just four guys from England dressed all in black and they had never seen anything like that before and they were dressed in their track suits and chains and had their gold teeth and they were rocking out to us in the room. And it was sort of like two worlds coming together and that’s what it feels like for us. We’ve got the modern side of it, recording, the mixing engineer, and the vocal coach, and that side of it, and the studio itself, but then we’ve got all the vintage equipment that we did this time and Gregory is very vintage and old school, and my band has old school influences, so it’s really that old meets new.
Are there any plans for touring in the US?
Not at the moment, no. We’re concentrating on Europe. In fact, we’ve got my biggest tour to date from September to December touring from Germany, France, Holland, Belgium, Sweden, even the UK, so, yeah, we’ve got lots lined up already, so the US will definitely come at a later date. It’s something that I really want to do. My first ever gig was in New York at the Carnegie Hall alongside Buddy Guy and Eric Burdon as part of the Leadbelly Tribute Festival and that was an amazing experience. It’s gonna be hard to top that, but I definitely want to come back with my band.
You’re known as a blues rock guitarist but you infuse other elements into the genre as well. As a younger artist, what do you think needs to be done to bring more young people into blues rock and blues as genres?
Sometimes I’ll get some people that are very critical over me because I’m not a purist of the blues whereas I personally think that to bring the blues forward and get younger people into it you need to make it more catchy, a little bit more poppy, a little bit more rocky, and it’s all about the songs. I still play 12 bar blues in my set and I love it, but I don’t do the whole set like that. I mix in with songs that people can sing along to and I really feel like to be a blues guitarist in the modern world you need to have songs, but play in bluesy style. That’s what I think gets a lot of younger people into it and especially since the last album, The Truth, we’ve seen a lot more younger people at our gigs around Europe which has been amazing.
If you could collaborate or share the stage with anyone who would you pick?
Eric Clapton definitely. I went to him in Hyde Park in London and on the bill was Carlos Santana, Gary Clark Jr., Stevie Winwood, and Clapton, and it was the best concert I’ve ever been to. I was really inspired. In fact, I wrote all these songs for this album and actually going home from this concert I ended up writing a few more songs. One was “Low Down,” one was “Stay,” so that was all after that concert. That really inspired me. I would love to play with Eric Clapton. He’s my hero. He’s got an incredible sound.
Interview by Pete Francis