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Sons Of Liberty Q&A

Bristol band Sons Of Liberty have recently released their sophomore album 'Aces & Eights', another potent mix of southern rock, hard rock and classic rock that if you are already a 'Sons' fan will delight and thrill. Guitarists Fred and 'Moose' took some time out from rehearsing for a huge number of gigs coming up that will hopefully bring the album (and older Sons Of Liberty classics) to even more potential fans.

Sons Of Liberty are Rob Cooksley (Lead Vocals), Fred Hale (Guitars & Backing Vocals), Andy 'Moose' Muse (Guitars & Backing Vocals), Mark Thomas (Bass & Backing Vocals) and Steve Byrne (Drums & Backing Vocals)

'Aces & Eights' is available on all the major digital sites and as a CD from Debut album 'Animism' and EPs '...Shinola' and 'Aged In Oak' are also still available on the digital sites and the band's bigcartel shop above.

Hi Guys, thankyou for taking some time to answer a few questions. First off, for those readers who might not be familiar with Sons Of Liberty, could you give a short history of the band? Fred: The band was formed in 2014 by Rob Cooksley, Andy 'Moose' Muse, Mark Thomas, Steve Byrne and myself. The aim was to bring some hard hitting Southern Rock to the UK live scene. In 2017 we found the time and inspiration to start writing our own music and things kind of took off for us from that point. Very soon after we were playing all original music and touring the length and breadth of the UK.

And who would you say were the main influences on Sons Of Liberty? Moose: There’s a whole raft of influences in there – classic Southern Rock like Skynyrd, Blackfoot and Molly Hatchet and newer Southern Rock too like Black Stone Cherry, Blackberry Smoke and The Cadillac Three. Thing is though, we all started playing back in the late 70’s or early 80’s so you’ll find bits of old school classic rock in there too. It’s a melting pot really.

You've just released your second album - 'Aces & Eights'. How do you feel it differs from your debut - 2019's 'Animism' and your two EPs - '...Shinola' and 'Aged In Oak'? Fred: We feel we have found our feet fully with 'Aces & Eights', the learning process of writing and recording our EPs and 'Animism' was a great help in us being able to take things up a few notches this time. The other huge difference was working with a producer for the first time, Josiah J Manning produced, engineered and mixed Aces & Eights and he is a bit of a genius to be honest. This really helped us get the best from the song selection, the arrangements and the performances of all the boys.

Any specific reason for the title of the album and card-playing theme? Moose: We definitely went “all in” with this album! We worked with a producer for the first time and we gave ourselves enough days in the studio right from the start. It was a bit of a gamble, and the card-playing theme from the song Dead Man’s Hand just seemed to work.

Where did you record the album? Somewhere you've recorded before? And how was it recording and putting it together during COVID? Fred: The album was recorded at Josiah's studio, 'Momentum' in South Devon. It was our first time working with him, after listening to his previous work and making contact we knew he was our man. Although we had started writing for 'Aces & Eights' just before the first lockdown, most of the album was written remotely by sharing video clips of song ideas and lyrics ideas and making up the rough arrangements that way. When we were finally allowed to rehearse we worked up the songs into demo versions for Josiah's input. We were lucky that the restrictions eased just long enough for us to get down to Plymouth for the actual recording in December last year. Do you have any favourite tracks off the album and if so why? Any tunes that didn't make the cut which we might hear later on? Moose: I think we all have our favourites, and this made the selection of the first single especially tricky. Josiah was adamant that we should lead off with Damaged Reputation though, and he was definitely right!! Fred had come up with over 60 guitar riffs and licks as the song writing kicked off, and around 20 of these were almost fully written prior to the final selection of 12 for the album. We could probably make a very cool EP with the leftover songs, but we don’t have anything left over from the actual recording sessions. We’ll be starting again from scratch for the next album though.

Photo - Alex Toze

You've released 'Aces & Eights' (and 'Animism' & the EPs) on CD. Any plans to release a vinyl version of the album? Are you fans of the 'vinyl resurgence'? Fred: Hell Yeah! It's great to see the return of wax and we have sold a lot of copies of 'Animism' on vinyl. We had hoped to release 'Aces & Eights' on vinyl by now but were caught out a bit by huge backlogs in the pressing plants, but it is in production and coming soon. We have pushed the boat out with the vinyl, which will be a heavy weight pressing in a full gatefold cover with a printed sleeve. We have the test pressings and they sound great. With live gigs a 'no-go' for a large part of the last 12 -18 months, did you try any live streams, podcasts etc during this time; if so, how did you find them to do and are they something you may carry on with even though gigs are slowly coming back? Moose: Yeah, we managed to shoot a couple of daft videos during lockdown, and we already had some live footage in the can that was used for a couple of different livestream type events. As time went on we managed to get into the Electric Banana in Weston Super Mare to shoot some additional live footage, and this went out as part of one of the NWOCR Presents type events. It’s not the same as playing live in front of a crowd though, and we’ve really missed that.

And talking of gigs, any that you're particularly looking forward to playing in the coming months? Fred: We have some cracking shows lined up including our first trip to France where we play on the same bill as the mighty FM. The festivals are always a bit special to play, but we'd get lynched if we left any out so I'd have to say all of them!

Do you have any shows that you've played so far that standout for you? Moose: Giants of Rock is still “the big one” for us, even though it’s actually two gigs. We played the Introducing Stage in 2019 and won the fan vote thing that got us a slot on the big stage in 2020. Both of these gigs were incredible, with a rammed room the first time around and a massive partisan crowd the second time. We seem to respond really well to the bigger stages too!

Do you feel that the Bristol and South-West rock scene is a strong scene at the moment? Any bands from the area at the moment that you'd recommend to readers? Fred: It is doing pretty well these days...less coming from Bristol but particularly down in Devon with the Kris Barras Band and new young blades Ethyrfield. We'd have to say to checkout our PR stablemates Firekind too. As we're an Anglo/Welsh band I'd say definitely look up our buddies Scarlet Rebels too. And finally - Allman Brothers, Lynyrd Skynyrd or ZZ Top? Moose: Skynyrd, although both the other two are cool as well.....

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