We went to the Liverpool International Music Festival where local hero and rising legend Louis Berry was playing the main stage. The weather was hot, the sun was out, and the music was scorching!
Louis and Jesse play Laney amps (Lionheart L20T-212 and Nexus SLS, N410, N115 respectively) we sat down and caught up with both of them, and asked a few questions.
Starting with Louis:
How did you start with music? Well my Grandad had a guitar at the end of his bed, it always interested me, but one day I decided to pick it up and have a go. I learnt a few chords immediately, it was just dead easy for me, made me think ‘wow, this is real’ so I showed my Grandad and he said learn it on a banjo, everyone plays guitar, play a banjo but the guitar for me just stood out, plus you can’t play rock and roll on a banjo!
Actually writing for me, it was by chance completely, I was hanging around with lads who were in to crime and things like that and it was through being involved with that kind of lifestyle that I met lads who happened to play drums and guitar, I watched him write a song on the guitar, I didn’t even know him, and it inspired me. I thought, if he can do that, why can’t I? So I went home and wrote a few songs, started playing them to the lads and they liked it. I got introduced to a producer through one of the lads involved in that world, recorded a few tracks with the producer. After that, the songs got sent into BBC Introducing in Merseyside. They then asked me to do a gig in The Cavern Club, so I did my first gig and got a publishing deal, did my second gig and got a record deal.
How do you feel the fans differ in Liverpool to around the world? Well my own shows in Liverpool are another level, absolutely stupid and crazy man, but playing elsewhere is very different, especially festivals where you have a huge mix of people in the crowd who aren’t necessarily there to see you, which is a double edged sword as you have instant access to new fans, but they will also not be straight into you as they’ve never heard you before! If I do a festival in Liverpool, a lot of the people are there because they like to go and watch bands all the time, but if I do a headline show in Liverpool the people who come, come because it’s me. Because I come from the same world as they come from and I speak about the things that are true to them. They wouldn’t look at Alex Turner from Arctic Monkeys and think “right, I’m going to dress like him” it just wouldn’t happen, it wouldn’t last five minutes. I’ve the exact same as them and they can relate to me and I think that’s why when I click with a person, I really click with them for life.
It’s going off around the world though too? Well everything is relatable, and when you leave the UK the thing that becomes the easiest relatable element is the music. I was in the Czech-Republic yesterday and there were over ten thousand people there and it was absolutely mental. They might have heard of me, but they’d never seen me play before and it was absolutely crazy. The appreciation for live music on the continent is sublime.
How does the Laney Lionheart suit your playing and your music style? Do you know what? I haven’t got a clue about amplifiers and all that, I really don’t. All I know is that amplifier, honestly, I was using a different amplifier before but when I plugged into that Lionheart it sounded better. I feel better on stage with that behind me and that’s the main thing for me, to have confidence in the gear I’ve got in my hands and behind me. It definitely works with the sound I’m trying to create, plus I like to sound very different to Jack (guitarist in Louis’ band) I don’t need any pedals, I don’t even know how to use a pedal, the only button I have is the one to turn my electric off and my acoustic on. That’s it.
What is the one piece of equipment you couldn’t live without? I’d say my amplifier! I can play my acoustic all day long and just DI it but without the amplifier I’d not have my rock and roll electric!
Any pre-gig rituals? I do some shadow boxing to warm myself up, a lot of Jack Daniels and I always smoke fifteen minutes before stage. I read an article that said it raises your blood pressure when you have a smoke, so I give myself fifteen minutes so I’m not too mental when I do walk out on stage!
What was the last album you listened to? Ben Howard – Every Kingdom. He comes from a different world to me, writes about different things but I really am impressed with him, I saw him at the Isle of White Festival too and he blew me away.
Any tips for aspiring musicians? Make sure you write your own tunes, if it takes you two years to come up with it, make sure nobody is writing for you, nobody is writing anything for you. Stay true to who you are, don’t be playing to backing tracks, that’s just not rock and roll!
Louis sure knows how to get a crowd going, but what about his band and in particular his bass player Jesse Eigen, we had a chat with him too:
How did you start with music? My mums side of the family were really musical, my Grandad was a piano player and my mum played classical violin so they used to send us to get piano lessons when we were kids and we were living in Los Angeles at the time. My piano teacher had a guitar in the corner, and every time I was playing piano I would look over at the guitar and say ‘I want that thing!’ then after I played guitar for two years there was a bass in the corner and I said ‘I want THAT thing!’
How did you go from that to being a professional musician? We moved back to Israel from the states and I went to an arts high school and majored in music there then because you have to do national service in Israel, and I got into a programme that the military runs for musicians which you have to audition for, so you’re trained as a soldier but you go and play for the guys. Generally speaking, because the people who are chosen to do that are really good and top notch, you keep in touch and that’s how you get the gigs. So I did that for a bit then moved over here, and apart from being a massive The Beatles fan which I always have been, I got to Liverpool because I went to a college in Israel that had a partnership with LIPA which I had never heard of at the time.
How do you feel the fans differ around the world? Obviously the Liverpool crowd is always really up for it, but this time around with the shows in Europe we were really pleasantly surprised, you know, places that we have never played a single gig in, to go there and the crowd goes completely off the hook! The fans are great everywhere! When a person loves music, they show it. It feels like it is going up a notch. A year ago we were playing support slots, now we go to the Czech Republic and perform to ten thousand people who are waiting for us. It’s insane!
Why is the Laney the best fit for you? Especially with Louis, you need that rock vibe, but because there’s a few ballads in the set you need to get the deep low end involved and the Laney is a thorough all round fantastic amp for that, especially the Nexus, I knew Laney primarily for rock music, but with the Nexus SLS, it is just so versatile you can play so many styles with it. The Tilt control has changed my life, now that I’ve played it for a fair while I know my exact sound and I know my amp thoroughly. I use it now in another band too called China Crisis, and the Nexus SLS is really useful there as they use Chorus and Octave. When I initially got the gig I thought I would have to buy a few new pedals but they’re all built in the amp! The useful thing about having that rig is, you never know what size stage you’re going to have when you turn up to a gig but the fact that it does have the Tilt function so you can adjust it to the room. I’ll rarely have it the same way twice, and it’s not effecting the front of house too much because you can choose where the signal is taken from via the DI, so the Tilt works for my on stage sound really really well. I just love that amp!
What is your signal path? At the minute I’m jumping from different basses. One is a Sire V7 and a Fender Jaguar. That’s going through a volume pedal to a compressor, I always have that on, then into an OC2 then a Darglass MIcrotubes, a Big Muff then the Nexus Footswitch with the extra options there. Depending on the venue I’ll send the signal either direct to our FOH guy or have it for myself so I can adjust it to my needs on stage.
What was the last album you bought? A new band from Australia called the Teskey Brothers, and I’m a massive blues fan, and these guys are in their 20’s and they have got it nailed, proper old school blues from Australia. Sounds amazing!
Any tips for aspiring musicians? Just keep at it. There’ll be times where you feel like you want to give it up but just keep going.
Louis and Jesse are proud endorsers of Laney Lionheart L20T-212 and Laney Nexus SLS, N410, N115.