Hailing from Bristol UK, Husky Tones are rapidly making a name for themselves with their unique and distinct flavour of ‘punk blues’. Victoria Bourne is at the forefront on not only vocals but drums also with Chris Harper on guitar and the combination clearly pushes boundaries and challenges the norm. The Husky Tones differ to other duos in their approach to writing and songs sonically with their debut album ‘Who Will I Turn To Know’ receiving great reviews, tracks gaining national and international airplay with their shows an explosive and thought provoking affair. We caught up with them for a drink and a chat just before a recent home town show at The Thunderbolt in Bristol...
For those that may not have heard of you or your take on “Punk Blues”, how did Husky Tones come to life?
Chris “The Husky Tones, as we appear and exist currently, are about a year old. It was early August 2016 when Victoria and I decided to go it as a duo.”
Victoria “It came back to us again as people were always saying ‘You two should do it on your own, as a duo, because you can, it’ll be better, easier, you’ll enjoy it even more’. We ignored everyone at first, went through the pain if you like and then realised everyone was right.”
Chris “Yeah, we had to go ‘Around The Wreckin’, that old Midlands saying which funnily enough is the opening track on our album ‘Who Will I Turn To Now?’, meaning that you have to go the long way round to find something. We’d done the full band thing for a long time, definitely gone the long way round, learnt from our experiences good and bad so as soon as we became a duo we had to work out what that was going to mean sonically and creatively.”
There’s been a large influx of duos over recent years yet Husky Tones are different to others, more original in approach and style some have said..
Chris “For one thing our drummer Victoria is our lead singer, and a lady which is often not the case and there should be more!”
Victoria “I was saying to Chris today that we need to get more women in the front of these punk blues rock style bands as it’s such a male dominated scene. It’s different with me being a drummer and vocalist in that I have to be aware of the sound so that people can still hear me singing over the drums. Recently I’ve been wanting to play quite complex drum patterns but I always have to think ‘hang on, I have to sing across this’ so that’s one of the things I have to take into consideration - Chris calls it ‘Nirvana mixed with Tom Waits’ drumming I’ve been doing which is a cool combination. Some of the songs are quite taxing and I get really out of breath so Chris has to introduce the next song to give me a breather!”
Chris “...and the next song is...whilst Victoria is collapsing, I’m talking, I’ve got the easy job! Anyone who’s seen us will tell you it’s a high energy gig and that’s what it should be about.”
Your album “Who Will I Turn To Now” which was released in early 2016 has been getting rave reviews. It’s very thematic in its subject matter in each song, was that intentional?
Chris “When we became a duo we decided to do some writing and then look at what we had done. We didn’t start with a plan, we just thought ‘let’s write what we want to write’, make it sound as good as we possibly can with just the two of us and at the same time we were looking around as to what other duos were doing in different styles. We happened across the phrase ‘Punk Blues’, which isn’t original to us at all as it harks back to 80’s where bands were punking up Robert Johnson songs. We just felt it certainly suited us as I don’t do long guitar solos anymore, the songs had to be more compact, punchy if you like so some traditional band elements were thrown out of the window. When you listen to the blues and punk, some of it is very political in its message, even if it’s a bit subtle. We wanted to write about the things we’re interested in, passionate about, what’s happening in the world and you know we didn’t grow up in Mississippi either so there’s no songs about growing up in the delta unlike some.”
You’re talking about being true to where you came from and honest with the listener there...
Victoria “Absolutely, there was no need for any of that make believe! We would sit and I’d come up with a line for something, we’d cross and swap things and we definitely had a lot of strong themes. ‘Momentum’ is a song about protest and hope and ‘The Island of Barbed Wire’ is a good example of themes where my great great uncle Louis Dollitz was interned on the Isle of Man in Knockaloe prisoner of war camp as a German POW just for being a German civilian living in the UK and married to an English lady when war broke out. It’s an expression of powerlessness in the face of terrifyingly sad global events, which is as relevant today as it was during WW1. We won’t put a ballad like that on the next album although people have been drawn to that song.”
You guys play a lot of gigs and festivals across the country and in such a cutthroat game, you’re are always keen to support causes and other bands as is the case tonight with 2 young bands in Drunken Butterfly and Stone Theory (who we have featured in a Podcast before). What’s happening next?
Chris “We’re putting on a gig for Alan McGee's Musicians Against Homelessness Festival in Bristol at The Mother's Ruin on the evening of Saturday September 30th which will be a great night with all of the money going to CRISIS and we’ve curated the lineup of great bands. In November we’re doing a Visual Arts Radio gig called ‘Sound Check Live’ which is set up in Frome. All live in a TV studio and they stream it out on Facebook, so technically it’s the first gig we’ve been able to do where we can really invite all of our friends from around the world! It’ll be a fun interactive gig.”
Victoria “We also have a short tour end of October playing George Shovlin’s Speakeasy in Sunderland, The Flying Circus in Newark-on-Trent and we’re opening for Danny Bryant at Louth Town Hall in Lincolnshire which will be a cool gig. We are also in the process of writing 3 new songs, which we’ll drip feed out over a period of time so look out for those…”
Find out more: