Tell us about:
Your latest single you have released:
Lionel: Well, in reality, we never released only singles but entire albums. The first one was in Sept 2020, « Different Shades Of Love » : 10 original tracks + 1 cover And the latest is « This is us » in sept 2022 : 14 original tracks
Your first album and how you felt when it was released:
Lionel: I felt so proud ! I play guitar since my 11, always studying and practicing a lot the blues guitarists legends as I grew with the 70’s Rock Bands like Deep Purple, Thin Lizzy, Led Zeppelin, Rainbow among others. So I keep of those influences a kind of innate sense for how a good riff should sound. I enjoy when music is strength and powerful. I of course studied the Blues roots legends too: Eric Clapton, Albert King, Peter Green and most recently Eric Gales, Christone kingfish Ingram and Joe Bonamassa.
I studied various kind of sounds, and now I’m trying to mix a vintage sound, with a low saturation for example with the modernity of a composition. Gipsy can add her touch when she sings, and I love her jazzy sound. So spending 40 years studying, practicing and playing on stage or studio with other artists and bands was such interesting and rewarding that when I decided to form my own band in 2019, I was impatient to record my own songs. When I finally received the album, and was able to take it in my hand it was a kind of accomplishment. A part of the musical culture that I had acquired was finally in my hands and I could offer the whole world what I had to say.
Gipsy: We are a couple on stage and in the city too, so we are living Lee O’Nell Blues Gang all day long. We think Lee O’Nell Blues Gang, we dream Lee O’Nell Blues Gang, well, there is not a single day since the beginning of the band without working on that project. As Lionel is the only composer, I wrote the lyrics. But English is not my native language, so I ask help from friends. Neal who is a Texan guitarist, singer living in France since the 90’s and with a 30 years career here. Alain Rivet, who is a french singer and composer with a wonderful American culture. And for the last track on our latest album, « Just need a prayer » I asked our friend Jade to help me. She is a fabulous Australian singer and also backing vocalist for Joe.
So when I took the first album in my hand, I knew that the dream came true, at last ! It’s such a hard, a complicated and a long way from the creation of a song till you can take the CD and listen to it. So many doubts, so many concessions from our families, such administrative procedures, such a long way, so many money to put inside this project, that when you got it in your hand; you only can be proud. And also a little bit afraid of how the public and radio shows, and promoters will welcome it !
Your favourite song that you have created that is an album track:
Gipsy: « Never again » from the first album « Different Shades Of Love ». In that album, we chose to write songs only around one and single subject: Love. There are happy songs, melancholic ones, some which are more sad than others; but this one is important for us. I chose to write something about violence’s made against women. It’s the story of a young women who finally and after so long years find the strength to confess her ordeal to her parents and the help she needed to go away from this hell. It is not really a sad song, it’s a tribute to all those who afraid to admit what they are going through and a message of hope because each situation is not final.
Lionel: Yes that song is very important by its meaning and I feel really involved in the message we want to convey. Cause the public is very responsive to it. It begins slowly and goes on with strength and power.
Your favourite song to play live:
Lionel & Gipsy : The same for all the same reasons
Your most emotional track:
Gipsy: There are several in fact by their meaning and lyrics. In the first album: « Stay » I imagined my last day, just the moment before I would pass away telling my lover (Lionel) how much I love him, how much I would like this moment to be eternal. And in our second album « When you were a child ». It’s a song I wrote for my girl. About what every parents can feel when they see their children starting their own life remembering the moment when they were very young kids. A kind of melancholy, happy and caring.
Lionel: All of our songs are a part of us. We put in each one some joy, some tears, some hopes, some disappointments, some anger, some existential questions. They are all emotional tracks because our life and different experiences influence us when we compose or write.
The best lyric you have ever written:
Gipsy: « Just need a prayer » from our latest album if I have to choose one particularly. I put a part of me inside each songs I write. So they are for me the best I could write. Because if i’m not satisfied I consider that the song is not ready yet. « Just need a prayer » is the one I chose to have Jade read and listen to ask her for her opinion. She told me that I have a lovely way to write and to sing it. So for me the compliment makes this song the best in my eyes. Almost because she added, « Gipsy, you said it all . I just have little things to change » I’m proud of this song !
Describe the feeling you get when you walk on stage to do a show:
Lionel: I’m so excited and happy. Stage is where I feel myself the best. I take the public energy, the emotion of the moment, with the band we are in communion for the 2 hours of the show, always listening to each others going in the same way.
Gipsy: Yes very excited, not nervous but impatient to sing the first word. And when it’s finished, looking forwards for the next !
The hardest track to play live:
Gipsy: For me it was « Stay » . When we recorded it, Lionel wanted a particular emotion, that the words would not sung too lyrically or that the song was overplayed. So they all made a plan, the guys and him. He asked the sound engineer to make me believe that exceptionally the voice would be during the recording only a witness voice. He pretended that I had to save my voice for latter and the future take and asked me to do as little as possible. That’s what I did. Then I asked for my take. And they all said « No that is good, we keep this one! ». I had never sung so little and that was the exact emotion Lionel wanted. So on stage it was too difficult because of the public, it wasn’t such intimate than the only one take. We decided to stop playing it on stage.
Lionel: « The man in the corner » from our latest album. Gipsy wrote some lyrics about my father who died before I met her. It’s a kind of gift she gave me by talking about him , and the emotion is intense every time. I play it just thinking of him, remembering the good times we had. He’s near me on stage while this song. I hope he loves it.
Essential items you always take on tour with you?
Gipsy: Haha !! As many guitars as the van can hold in addition to the full set of drums, keyboards, bass, amps…
Lionel: And don’t forget Gipsy’s scarf, some Redbull and a full box of candies !
Describe your fans in three words:
1 Connoisseur : in the sense one does not catch flies with vinegar ! Most of them have a real knowledge of blues rock culture. Some are here to discover you, some to judge you to see if you will play the same as the studio version.
2: Very attentive: if you wanna play in the way of Peter Green, you have to do it and not in an approximative way for example.
3: Respectful : they listen, they live the moment without talking or laughing or whatever you want.
1 Many: I am pleasantly surprised to see they are more and more at each concert.
2 Caring: they are very kind with us, sometimes offering us presents, happy when we agree for a selfie and we don’t claim to be unreachable !
3 Smiling: I really enjoy to see their happy faces when we are on stage, they enjoy the moment too, they sometimes dance, they sing. Concerts are made to make you forget everyday life and worries. And when they smile, I know I’ve done the job !
A song by another artist or band you wish you had written:
Lionel: I would have liked to compose « Too close to the fire » by Eric Gales. That is such a simple song but the sum of everything I love. Each guitar legends could play on it, you can hear some of BB King, some of Eric Clapton, some of Gary Moore…
Gipsy: « Crazy » by Willie Nelson. That is so sweet, so tender, so much full of loving. This song sounds like an evidence.
What we can look forward to from your band this year:
Lionel: A lot of promotion for this second album I’m so proud. We are working on that. Some great concerts too, we will have the opportunity to open for great artists and band as Ana Popovic or The Cinelli Brothers for example…
Gipsy: and thanks to some European radio shows, we will start to play in Belgium. We are also waiting for a little tour in Germany.
We enjoy to receive orders from Canada, USA, England, Netherlands…. So we hope for a booking agency in each country that will want and help to make us play throughout Europe and beyond !
Lionel: To be able to represent France to The International Blues Challenge in the next years would be great too. Because the contest is in Memphis…
Gipsy: and you can follow us here:
Site web : https://www.leeonellbluesgang.com
Youtube : https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCU9bcdZ-UVh2_EM83NxyjFg
Spotify : https://open.spotify.com/artist/4uU0QwUeHcEk1e7tsANRjH
Deezer : https://www.deezer.com/fr/artist/107074722
Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/leeonellbluesgang/
Categories: Music, Music Interviews, Today's Featured Artist
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