SINGER/SONGWRITER BJORN BAILLIE DELIVERS
THE BEST AMERICANA ROCK THIS SIDE OF E STREET
WITH LOCAL SHOWS AT GHENGHIS COHEN AND VIPER ROOM
Singer/songwriter Bjorn Baillie originally made a name for himself as the singer of La Rocca, the best Los Angeles (by way of Dublin) band in recent memory. Now based in London (“a great city to see music but awful place to be involved,” he notes), Baillie will be performing his news batch of songs, some of the best and honest new music around, check website for show schedule.
Baillie, a charming chap that takes his songwriting seriously, has a knack for penning songs that you’d swear were lost gems straight out of ‘70s FM rock. La Rocca’s two indie releases, The Truth and OK Okay, succeeded at creating extremely well crafted lamentations. Part Rod Stewart raspy vocals teamed up with Coldplay’s piano sound always delivered a timeless sound.
With new songs recorded over two rainy weeks in London now posted on Baillie’s Myspace page, it seems the best Americana rock is actually coming from the UK these days. Baillie’s new track, “That Lady From Portland” is a wonderful take on Springsteen’s “Thunder Road” before going into its own fine direction.
Our clear cut recommendations for upcoming local shows will definitely be Baillie’s acoustic set at Ghenghis Cohen on Wednesday, October 6 and his full band Viper Room show on Tuesday, October 12. Catch him now before he’s off headlining Staples Center.
We recently had the pleasure of catching up with Baillie, who always aims to be his generation’s best songwriter, and talked about his new music.
Congrats on your new music. Please talk about the good ship La Rocca sailing away as it were.
AFTER QUITE A FEW YEARS TOGETHER, SOME OF US HAD MOVED TOO FAR AWAY FROM THE CENTRAL IDEAS AND NEEDS OF THE BAND. SO PULLING THAT SHIP BACK INTO PORT WAS THE ONLY THING TO DO. I LIKE THE RADIOHEAD SONG-TITLE...'EVERYTHING IN IT'S RIGHT PLACE.’ IT FITS WHERE WE GOT TO, AND WHERE IT SHOULD BE LEFT.
How has it been setting up shop in London?
WELL, THE MUSIC SCENE MAY CHANGE EVERY 6-8 MONTHS HERE BUT THE WAY IT GOES ABOUT IT HASN'T; GREAT CITY TO SEE MUSIC BUT AWFUL PLACE TO BE INVOLVED. I HAVE LOTS OF FRIENDS IN BANDS WHO'VE HAD THEIR ARSE WELL AND TRULY KICKED BY INDUSTRY HERE. GOOD BANDS, GOOD PLAYERS, BUT FOR ONE REASON OR ANOTHER THEY'VE COME UP AGAINST THE SAME BLINKERED INDUSTRY PEOPLE. I MEAN IF THEY SAY A 22-YR-OLD GIRL WITH A SYNTH IS IN, THEN ALL OTHER GENRES ARE VERY MUCH OUT. THERE SEEMS TO BE NO CONSISTENCY TO PEOPLE'S ATTITUDES. I WISH MORE ARTISTS HAD A CHANCE TO TOUR IN THE U.S., TO PEOPLE ALL OVER THE STATES, WHERE THERE'S MUCH MORE ROOM (RADIO/PRESS) TO GIVE DIFFERENT BANDS A CHANCE TO SPREAD THEIR WORD. SO THE ANSWER IS ITS BEEN TRICKY, BUT I'VE HAD A GOOD EDUCATION OVER THESE PAST FEW YEARS SO I RECOGNISE WHAT NOT TO GET ANNOYED ABOUT (...THOUGH I DO SOUND ANNOYED, RIGHT?! HAHAHA..). THE WHEEL HAS BEGUN TO TURN FOR ME AND I'M EXCITED RIGHT NOW THOUGH.
Has it been easy finding inspiration in London?
IT DOESN'T REALLY MATTER FOR MY WORK, FOR WRITING IT'S STILL ME IN A SMALL ROOM WITH A WINDOW, GUITAR & PIANO. IT WAS THE SAME IN DUBLIN OR LOS ANGELES.
Talk about the direction of your new music?
I WAS WRITING A LOT LAST YEAR AND REALLY PUSHED MYSELF TO GET A WHOLE NEW BATCH (AROUND 15-20) OF SONGS THAT WOULD BE THE BASIS FOR SOLO WORK. THE BEST THING WAS NOT PUTTING ANY BOUNDARIES ON HOW THEY SOUNDED OR FIT IN, THEN AFTER I DEMOED THEM UP, I FOUND A CORE OF 12 THAT I COULD REALLY GRIP AS NEW SONGS. AS FOR DIRECTION, I'M NOT TOO SURE. I CAN ONLY USE MY INSTINCTS FOR WHAT I LIKE, BUT I DID HAVE STRONG INTENT TO HAVE SONGS THAT YOU'D KILL TO SEE BEING PLAYED LIVE BY A GREAT BAND IN SWEATY CLUB - THIS IS NO SINGER/SONGWRITER ACOUSTIC THING.
I love the new songs, “That Lady From Portland” is very Springsteen (obviously intentional), you've always had a fondness for Americana music, talk about the inspiration for that song and that particular kind of sound.
I'VE HAD THE PIANO RIFF KNOCKING ABOUT FROM BEFORE I EVEN KNEW SPRINGSTEEN'S STUFF THAT WELL SO I KNOW IT WAS JUST A TYPE OF PIANO PLAYING THAT APPEALED TO ME BACK THEN. IN IRELAND THERE'S NO DEFINED WAY A BAND HAS TO SOUND OR PLAY AND IT SHOWS FROM THE MIX OF MUSIC THERE NOW (AND FROM WHEN I GREW UP AND LIVED THERE). PEOPLE DON'T FOLLOW CURRENT STYLES SO MUCH, SO I ALWAYS LIKED THE SOUND OF A GUY PLAYING GUITAR AND BELTING IT OUT...CREEDENCE CLEARWATER, THE REPLACEMENTS AND THEN WHEN I FOUND HIM...SPRINGSTEEN...IT MADE SENSE TO ME INSTANTLY AND FIT. LONGER SONGS THAT TELL A STORY APPEAL TO ME. I PLAYED 'LADY FROM PORTLAND' AT A SHOW IN LONDON LAST YEAR AND NOBODY KNEW WHAT TO MAKE OF A 6-MINUTE SONG WITH 3 DIFFERENT SECTIONS. IT WAS WONDERFUL TO SEE! IT WASN'T EXPECTED
Do you miss Los Angeles?
I THINK WHEN I LEFT I WAS READY TO LEAVE BUT I MISS SOME GREAT FRIENDS I MADE OUT THERE. IT'S A FUNNY PLACE THAT FOLKS PASS THROUGH, AND I WAS LED TO BELIEVE THAT SOLID FRIENDSHIPS ARE HARD TO COME BY OUT THERE DESPITE ALL THE PEOPLE YOU MEET WHO ARE FRIENDLY BUT I FOUND SOME.
What, if anything, do you miss most about L.A.?
I MISS HAVING IT AS A BASE TO TOUR AND PLAY LIVE IN THE STATES. BANDS IN THE UK DON'T GET ANYTHING LIKE THE CHANCE TO DO AS MUCH LIVE WORK OVER HERE. MOST COME AND DO 2 WEEKS OF NYC, L.A. AND MAYBE CHICAGO, BEFORE LEAVING AND NOT COMING BACK FOR A FEW MONTHS. THE MUSIC CROWDS IN L.A. WERE GOOD AND SOME OF MY FAVOURITE VENUES ARE THERE.
When will we see new music available?
WELL, THERE ARE 3 SONGS UP ON iTUNES AT THE MOMENT, BUT WITH REGARDS TO A FULL RECORD, I'M HOPING LATER IN THE YEAR. I HAVE WHAT I HOPE WILL BE A REALLY STRONG GROUP OF SONGS THAT PEOPLE CAN REALLY GET INTO. IT'S VERY IMPORTANT TO ME TO GET IT RIGHT AND SET-UP MY WORK FOR THE YEARS AHEAD.
Talk about the feedback you've received from posting your new songs on Myspace?
WELL, THE BEST THING IS THAT PEOPLE IN SO MANY DIFFERENT PLACES HAVE GOTTEN IN TOUCH. HOW ON EARTH DID THEY FIND ME? NO, ITS BEEN GREAT. I'VE KEPT 4 SONGS UP PERMANENTLY AND THEN POSTED A NEW DEMO UP EVERY WEEK. I GET QUICK FEEDBACK ON THAT TOO. ALL OF IT HELPS TO KEEP MY CONFIDENCE UP FOR GETTING THIS RECORD DONE, AND THEN GETTING OUT AND GIVING IT A SWING TO SEE WHERE IT ALL MAY LEAD. IT’S A FRESH ADVENTURE.
To hear new Bjorn Baillie songs click here.
Photos courtesy of Bjorn Baillie