The Bateleurs Q&A
Lisbon based The Bateleurs have recently released their debut full length album 'The Sun In The Tenth House', a splendidly dynamic blues-rock album full of soulful vocals, fizzing guitar riffing and punch grooves. Bass man Ricardo took the time to answer a few questions for the 'Ballroom Blitz's Man At The Back' ahead of their Spanish tour on the band, the album and where they'd like to play next.
The Bateleurs are Sandrine Orsini (Vocals), Marco Reis (Guitars), Ricardo Dikk (Bass) and Rui Reis (Drums).
2018's EP 'The Immanent Fire' and the recently released 'The Sun In The Tenth House' album are available on all the major digital sites. You can also pick up CD copies of 'The Sun In The Tenth House' from The Bateleurs' Bandcamp page - www.thebateleurs.bandcamp.com.
Hello Ricardo, thank you for taking some time to answer a few questions. First off, for those readers who might not be familiar with The Bateleurs, could you give a short history of the band?
We can trace it back to when I (Ricardo Dikk, Bass) met Sandrine (Vocals) when working on a studio session. The musical affinities were evident, and soon after we were playing gigs revisiting some classic material by Zeppelin, Purple, Janis and a lot of blues standards. Drummer and old friend Rui Reis was already on board at that time. The creation of original material was a natural development, and the aesthetic path chosen was obviously in line with those seminal references we all had. Being professional freelancer musicians for many years we were used to play a bit of everything, but when it came down to write our own material, our core influences were stronger than anything else. We were in the studio in 2018 to record 'The Immanent Fire' EP; We did it the old school way, without fancy new technology and really quick, to capture the energy and vibe of the songs. It was very well received by various audiences, and it’s been always uphill since then.
And who would you say were the main influence on The Bateleurs?
It’s difficult to name just one, but I have to say that Led Zeppelin and The Beatles are my first and foremost influences; My dad loves Zeppelin and my mother loves Beatles, and we can’t escape from the early influences of our childhood. I’ve listened to a lot of stuff in my life, metal as a teen, jazz as a music student, but the real roots of my passion for music are in those 2 bands, and I believe they are the foundation of everything we do today. The Beatles are the songsmiths, the art of writing and expression, and Zeppelin are the pioneers in taking things to another level and the takers of risks, the improvisation, and the balance between the two is that sweet spot every musician is probably trying to achieve.
You've recently released your debut album 'The Sun In The Tenth House'; where did you record the album and did COVID hinder putting together and releasing the album in any way?
'The Sun In The Tenth House' was originally scheduled to be released in early 2020; we started recording in the autumn of 2019 in one of the best studios in our area, Canoa Studios (where we already did substantial work of our debut EP). We did the bass and drums for 7 songs in one day as usual, we like to do big sessions and try to nail as much material as we can. We finished guitars and vocals later in Dynamix Studios. Then the pandemic struck and all our plans went south. During that time, we wrote some more material, and we went back to the studio in the spring of 2021 (this time at Plateia D’ilusões) to record 4 new tracks. One thing is certain: if we released the record back in 2020, it would not be so good as it is today, because the songs we wrote during the pandemic are definitely some of the best; fortunately, we could harness all the frustrations and uncertainties that were assailing us to a good creative output, and the
record is much better because of it. We can say we’ve come out of it a lot stronger than
Do you have a feeling for how the album is being received since its release?
It’s been just a couple of weeks, and we are astonished by the reception. Reviews are coming from around the world and we are humbled by what people are saying. We’ve put a lot of effort on this record, and it’s truly a blessing to have such recognition of our work. Specifically, when people say that 'this is a record you should give all your attention', 'it’s not a record to put on and do something else', 'you should sit and really listen to the music'; that was our main purpose from the beginning, and it’s awesome to see folks saying it, it was our main goal.
Do you have a favourite track (s) on the album and if so, why?
It’s difficult for me to say it because I produced it from the early stages; some songs I think work better from a sonic perspective, and others because they are more meaningful to me as a songwriter. I would highlight the song 'City of Lights', because it’s a song that was mainly written by Sandrine, and I think it encapsulates the main core of her as a singer and songwriter, and it definitely is one of our best performances on the record as a band.
Were there any songs that didn't make the album that you may release at a later date?
We’ve scrapped a lot of material for this record, we’ve written probably 20 songs, and we
choose the absolute 10 best to feature on the record. The leftovers, songs that didn’t pass the demo stage, and others that were fully completed, probably will go back to the drawing board and maybe will be disassembled and some parts used for new songs, or not, we’ll never know because we’re always writing new material, so, maybe some ideas of those songs will make it to the new compositions, or not, the future will tell.
You have a Spanish tour lined-up for June; do you have any plans for playing further afield later in the year or next year?
We’re in conversations with agencies and promoters from various European countries to
expand our tour radius, and hopefully we’ll do some international shows this year; we’re
mainly focusing in booking 2023, focusing on festivals all over Europe.
Are there any venues / festivals that you'd particularly like to play?
We’d love to go to the UK and play some festivals there; I think 'Call of the Wild' would be
perfect for us, with our present dimension. We would love to play everywhere, we’re not
picky. I have to say I would absolutely love to play the 'Electric Ballroom' in London, I’m in love with that venue since I watched a Glenn Hughes gig there in 2018.
What have been the highlights for the band so far since forming in 2018?
We were extremely fortunate to play at the 28th European Harley Davidson Rally; from that gig we got the connections that made us found LeStrato, our agency in Spain and start touring for real out of our country. Another major highlight was the release party last May 12th, it was almost sold out at a very nice venue in our home town, we couldn’t be happier how it turned out, and it’s a night we will remember for a long time.
Is there a good Portuguese rock and blues scene at the moment? Any bands that you'd particularly recommend to readers?
We have some very nice bands, but I can’t say we have a good scene per se, there are not many venues to play this style on a regular basis, and the audiences are much more into the covers circuit, especially the tribute bands. That said, I can definitely say that you should check Budda Power Blues, Vitor Bacalhau, Carolina Fonson, The Mirandas and Bloody Sam. If you want to check a couple nice ones in our neighbour Spain, definitely Electric Alley and Zalomon Grass
And finally what plans for The Bateleurs for the rest of 2022 and going forward?
We’re fully concentrated on the first leg of the tour, and we’re booking more dates until the end of the year, both locally and abroad. We’re starting to book already for 2023 too. Later this year we’re thinking of recording a live version of 'The Sun In The Tenth House', and we’re working with our label to have a vinyl edition of the record. Let's see where things go from there.