Blizzards bassist Louize Carroll on life, lockdown and her skills as a Fergie impersonator
Vocalist, composer, co-founder of PRISM Therapy Online, a consultant psychologist and bassist for The Blizzards — Louize Carroll is a woman of many talents.
Struck down by Covid at what feels like the last hurdle, both Louize and bandmate Bressie have been taking it easy in isolation the last few days. She’s still surprisingly upbeat when she answers my call though. “No, I’m good to go,” she assures me when I suggest we reschedule, obviously keen for any bit of distraction. And so, we delved right in.
How did you first get into music?
My mother actually heard me singing Kylie Minogue’s “Tears on my Pillow” behind a door one day. I was only around 10 I think, but she realised I could sing. The next day she got me a cute little nylon string guitar and lessons to play. So, I learned how to play the regular guitar, and then I just used to sing away to songs for about four years. I joined bands after that for the remainder of my teenage years. I was always doing something with music, I was either in a band or I was writing music. After that, I moved into screen composing for film and TV for about five years or so and had a really great experience with that. It’s definitely something I’d like to return to. It’s just impossible to do everything!
How does it feel to be back performing?
You know, there are times when everything can feel like a real stretch – especially when you’re making a body of work like an album where there’s so much to think about, so much to do. The end product looks lovely and it looks neat, but there’s so much that goes on behind the scenes, and for so long as well. But the moment that you perform, the moment that you’re actually together as a band onstage and actually get to perform that work and have people appreciate it – and like it! – is amazing.
I had one of those pinch-me moments when we were playing The Academy recently. The album went live and in the space of 24 hours people were already singing back choruses to us and that was just incredible. I mean, that’s really why we all do it. It’s the live performances for us, it really is. We are very much a live band, it’s part of the energy of what we do.
Sometimes We See More In The Dark is already number one in the indie charts, so obviously people are reacting to it. How would you describe the new album?
This is the first real album for me to be a part of. I came into the band halfway through the third studio album, The Last Great Algorithm, so whilst I played on some songs I wasn’t fundamentally a part of the process at all. This was my first time ever being part of the album from start to finish, so, from that point of view, I was able to see a leap into more profundity for Niall and his writing.
It was a leap into more honesty and more personal honesty, I think, rather than describing other people’s experiences. There’s something that comes with music that you write from your own perspective that just connects far more with other people and I think that’s what we see with this album.
It opens with “War Time General”, which is about your right to stand up for yourself, no matter who you are – if you’re being slated or your integrity is being challenged. You know, I think nowadays, everybody sort of feels like, we need to stay inside certain parameters in order to be accepted. But we lose our nuance, we lose our essence when we feel confined by those parameters, particularly if there’s injustice. That song is a real hard-hitter and we all agreed it should be the opener because it’s really loud. It’s to the point, it’s strong, it’s raw. But then the album moves into moments of much more tenderness as well. The Blizzards’ characteristic energy persists throughout it all.
I certainly have my own preferences with music throughout the years, have always connected with music from the heart. I think Niall has nailed it with what he’s written and from lots of different perspectives on lots of different topics – he’s really gone there with this album, so we’re all very proud as a band.
What’s your favourite part about performing?
100%, it’s completely the energy. We’re quite loud as a band and we’re very guitar-driven. I’ve always loved that growing up – the rawness and the essence of a guitar band. I don’t know what it is but it always spoke to me and made me feel comfortable – it made me feel uncomfortable in other ways, which we love too! – but I think that’s what we have in our band. There’s a lot of energy; we connect very well on stage, we bounce off each other very well.
We’ve had a lot of time to rehearse and hone how we want to play the songs, how we want to perform them, how we want to communicate. And obviously, Bressie is an amazing frontman, he has so much energy. I don’t know how he keeps going through the longer gigs as well, but he’s just well able to hold a crowd. Dec is incredible to watch too, he’s an entity onto himself!
Do you still get nervous getting up on stage?
Yeah, I was actually nervous for our album launch, because that’s a gig that we put on, that we devised on the back of our own album as opposed to just being asked to join an event that had already been organised. It’s a very different thing to be putting on your own show, to have people coming to watch you. It’s a different kind of fear, definitely more nerve-wracking than your average gig, for sure.
A lot of people found it hard, during lockdown especially, to be creative. Was that your experience? Or did you kind of enjoy having the downtime?
Initially, there was just a sort of flattened shock, and then that worry about ‘What are we going to do?’ seeped in because all the live shows were cancelled. Niall went straight into creative mode and that could last for a few weeks at a time. He’s constantly writing, constantly turning out music – and not all of it has even made it onto the album, there was way more. He was really on that buzz, but on different waves throughout the pandemic.
For me, it was a little different. I actually threw myself more into work, more into the psychology side of my life, because I don’t know, I felt a bit lost creatively, actually. And it was more towards the end then, that my own creativity, kind of made a return. So, I think we all had different experiences, but we all stayed quite connected as a band throughout.
Obviously, mental health is one of your areas of expertise, do you think there’s a connection between your love of music and helping people find ways to cope?
I think that’s an interesting one. Somebody actually asked me a few weeks ago, ‘Would you not think of combining those two things, you know, and supporting people with music therapy? Would that not make sense?’ That gave me pause, and I wondered ‘Why do I feel such a fundamental resistance to that?’. And I think it’s because music for me is one of the only things left untouched.
Most of the rest of my life is around other people – whether that’s as a therapist, a psychologist, or just talking about mental health – it’s such a huge part of what I do, and I think I feel so fiercely protective of music because I want to keep it just in my own life and not make it another means through which to deliver therapy. It’s such an incredible means, for people to support people with music, but I think that’s probably my own self-care therapy. That’s my escape.
How do you look after yourself when life gets busy and you’re on the road?
It’s been a little while since we’ve been doing consecutive gigs in a row so I’m kind of looking forward to getting back to that, if I’m honest. Funnily enough, I do well with intensity, it suits me to just be 100% in something. I find it harder to divide myself between things over the course of a week, for example. And so, to go into something all in – this is fully what I do every day – that’s actually like a breath of fresh air to me, I love that because I can immerse myself in it, everything I do is a part of that, my focus and attention isn’t divided anymore.
So, I do, I really enjoyed that. But you’ve got to be aware of what you’re eating and how you’re treating yourself when you’re on the road. It’s hard sometimes when you’re going from venue to venue, petrol station to petrol station. That’s tricky, but you’ve just got to plan a little bit.
You’ve worked with some amazing people in the past, are there any standout memories that come to mind straight away?
Well, I worked with Martin Phipps, who did the music for The Crown. Sometimes I speak too soon, because I know what I want to do, but I sort of overestimate how much I can realistically do. So, at one point I found myself out in a studio in Hackney. Martin had asked me to complete some pieces he was doing and he had to go, so he left the studio and honestly, I wasn’t 100% sure what he needed me to do at all. So, I was sitting there, looking at YouTube thinking, ‘How do I get myself into these situations?’. But it worked out in the end, the thing is you do know what you’re doing! But yeah it was amazing to work with people like him and Clint Mansell and Christopher Young.
Next month, you’re joining Gabrielle and The Black Eyed Peas for Rise Live in Galway. That must be very exciting, tell us about that.
Yeah, that’s coming up quickly! It’s kind of mad really, we probably wouldn’t have put us with those acts but I think somehow it works. Just by virtue of it being kind of unusual, I think it works! And also The Black Eyed Peas have that same kind of quirky, fun energy too. The lads keep threatening they’re going to push me in there to fill in for Fergie, so who knows!
Tickets for Rise Live start at €69.50 and there are still some remaining. You can find out more info and get yours via Ticketmaster.