A Big Hello To the boys from Five Points Gang, comprising of
Dinho Barral – Bass Guitar, Backing Vocals
Gaet Allard – Drums, Backing Vocals
Joe Pearson – Guitar, Lead Vocals.
The band released their critically acclaimed first album “Wanted” in September 2021, and (fresh from being nominated in the recent UK Blues awards) are currently on a UK tour.
Dinho and Joe joined us for a Zoom call in order to bring us all up to date over the blues, and the progress of all things pertaining to the band in 2022. We began to talk about the state of modern blues:
Dinho – We are kind of blues rock/pushing to the rock. I mean we are blues, but not in the traditional style of sixties blues. Sometimes we meet a block where we don’t get into the blues clubs as we don’t play so called “authentic blues,” but I see this as a problem as we need to introduce young people to amazing modern blues. If you only think about what they were singing about 50 or 60 years ago, then it is harder to relate to that.
Music evolves, the blues has evolved from the Delta Blues generation, then the BB King generation, the baton passes on to the next line. Where is blues evolving to today?
Dinho – It’s complicated! It is evolving, I see loads of new bands coming through, and some clubs are attempting to put new blues artists on their venues. It is easy to sell the 12 bar blues and harmonica sound, but when you come with something new there can be a barrier as if people are afraid. It is like blues and rock has this similarity, and it is easy to link to rock if you are blues. But, in my opinion, the UK blues market is bigger than rock today. I’m a rock n’ roll guy, but I got into the blues when I met Joe. I was the kind of guy who thought blues was a bit generic, where they would play the same licks…too much attention to the 50’s and 60’s. Then Joe would be saying listen to this, listen to this. Freddie King, for example, he’s 60s music, but sounds modern and fresh today. So that’s my perspective on the blues.
Joe – I grew up listening to all those old blues guys, BB King, Freddie King… but then I grew up with the 60’s UK Blues revolution so Free and Cream, Eric Clapton, and later on got more into some of the US artists who came out again like The Fabulous Thunderbirds kind of thing. I think we are definitely on a bit of a mission in this band to reinvent blues a bit, because my opinion is I think a lot of damage was done for many years by white people playing basically Eric Clapton blues for the last 30 years. It’s the same formulaic music. I think we all got used to the pubs and hearing the 12 bar shuffles and the same old…when you go back and you listen to the blues then. I mean (as you said) BB King came from the Gospel sound and bits of country, his old BB King music has all kind of things in it. Listen to his music and it has so much more than the modern perspective on blues. Buddy Guy, his live performances could be brash and aggressive or really funky, almost jazzy. We have forgotten so much of that in blues and we are trying to put diversity into the music, culturally. In our band Dinho comes from Brazil and brings that to us, music knowledge. Our drummer Gaet was in a conservatoire and is a really talented musician, jazz, fusion, pretty much anything. We want to breathe in something new in the world of blues.
I mentioned the Shirley King piece done for the magazine, how she welcomed the evolution of blues for new generations.
Joe – Yes, a key question now is what is the blues? To answer that, go back to the beginning and see how diverse blues was then. It was never just the repeated Clapton licks that came to be a part of the UK scene.
The more that music is boxed the more constrained it gets. There has to be a fusion between styles to keep it alive surely?
Joe – Yes, Dinho and I talk about this multiple times. At one point when you play the standard stuff that everybody expects to hear, at some point it becomes cabaret as you emulate what has been done before. It would be interesting to talk to those guys gigging in the 50s and 60s, the black American blues artists, and ask what they thought about themselves. I wonder did they consider themselves as blues; or just musicians out there making rock n’ roll. So many of the soul guys (and we are so into that music as well), it’s not so different. In the jazz world you can be so diverse in your musical tastes and everyone accepts it as jazz, in blues that is not the case.
Dinho – In rock it’s the same, there are so many types of rock, but in blues it’s the blues. Full-Stop. I used to think, as I said, that blues was a bit generic, but not now. Start listening and there is so much difference between Eric Clapton and BB King.
Of course, I think there are so many sub-divisions in rock even I lose track. I mean I came across a math rock band the other day, what’s that?
Joe – Sure there is a quote and on the spot I don’t remember where it came from now. But someone asked, I think, Buddy Guy – the difference between Texas Blues and Chicago blues and his answer was about 3000 miles.
They say Texas blues has more swing?
Joe – It’s a completely meaningless thing really isn’t it? I think rock music, and there is a lot of rock in what we do, we are quite a heavy band. Again, where is the line between blues and rock. If you play with feeling, a certain feeling then it is blues.
We discussed the Gene Simmons appearance on Newsnight to talk about the death of BB King and the comment that to play the blues is to be born black twice. It also looked at the meaning of the blues its origins as race music and the 1/4/5 chord progression music format of the blues.
Joe – the blues is expressing real feelings live on stage, those great blues artists portrayed their blues in an often joyous way. Not all blues was downbeat, slow music. A lot of BB King was entertaining. Look at the gospel churches and the Howling Wolf concerts; it is like a deep and vibrant thing that I hope our shows return to with enthusiasm. We enjoy ourselves; take people away from boring lives.
I wanted to ask about the recent video for the single “How Long,” you had that “Peaky Blinders” look of the hats and coats. A distinctive image you don’t use live. Any chance of keeping it? I liked it, it’s a peg to hang a hat on.
Dinho – I think that the winter coat was like 20kg, so it looks great but hard to wear.
Joe – We toyed with it. But our live stage performances are very physical, there is a lot of movement. Maybe next year, just go out in tracksuits and running shoes!
You write your own material, can I ask about “Let’s Stay Together?” It has a great drum sound, brought to the fore in the mix I felt?
Joe – We think of the band as three equal instruments, guitars and drums are same level. We are not a power trio, in our band we are equal. It’s dynamics.
Dinho- It relates to song writing as well, we are three songwriters in the band. So we do the melody, the drums are jazzy. I love The Beatles.
Joe – It’s rare in our songs that we play the same on guitars and bass, Dinho will play the counterpoint to what I am playing. Three people in the band can create interest, live there is a lot going on; people don’t know where to look.
“Love By the Gun” we loved that one here too, slower, a bit of Southern style we thought.
Joe – I came up with the chords and basic lyrics. The lyrics are simple and minimalist for this one. It’s a basic riff and verse created by playing the song together. It’s unusual as it has a bass sole and no guitar solo. There is no anthem and it feels unfinished somehow.
Dinho- I knew this would be a hard one to record as it is the kind of song that you feel the song and needs played live. We did it in one take I think.
And there we are everybody. Five points gang will be heading your way. With some 92 gigs booked they are out there near you now. Check them out and give the album a play, I have a lot of great feelings about the future of this band.
Feature by E. M. C. Chambers.