“Stripped back, rootsy soul.” That’s what The Rising Souls are about, according to their singer, acoustic guitarist and main man Dave Archibald. It’s an apt description for the Edinburgh- based three-piece, in which Archibald is joined by Roy ‘Kelso’ Laing on electric bass and Tom Reed on cajón. In classic fashion, the set-up came together by accident. Archibald was in a straight- ahead rock band, but when Laing joined on bass, the pair started doing acoustic gigs. One night Reed jumped on stage with his box and started playing along, and a new direction beckoned.
“It changed into going a bit more into what I listen to personally,” says Archibald, “which is more soul and blues, and 70s rock. So we wanted to do that, but not do it being an out and out rock band. So we’ve done it in a kind of acoustic way.”
An eponymous mini-album in 2014 captured their sound, melding hints of Marvin Gaye, The Rolling Stones and even Steely Dan. But Archibald’s voice, a dynamic rock’n’soul instrument in the mould of early Rod Stewart, is at the heart of their appeal.
“He’s the powerhouse,” acknowledges Laing. “Without him there’s nothing. His vocal is the star of the show, and we just have to do the best we can to make it shine. Creatively he’s the lead.”
But they each recognise what the others bring to the party. The gangling Laing, described as “the loveable giant”, brings a funky groove that expands their sound beyond the purely acoustic. “He actually holds everything together in the band with the bass, because me and Tom are doing other things,” Archibald says.
In Reed’s case, he brings the spectacle of his box playing.
“I went to see one of my favourite bands, and they did a stripped-back set,” Archibald recalls by way of comparison. “The drummer sat down on a cajón, and I thought, ‘What the fuck are you doing, mincing about like that?’”
So does the minimalist approach create challenges? “Yeah,” says Reed. “We end up writing songs that we want to be really heavy and then can’t make them any heavier!
“We’re not trying to be a heavy band with a stripped-back sound though,” he continues. “We’re trying to get a groovy, dynamic kind of sound. We were listening to Bill Withers at the Carnegie Hall, and even though he’s playing with a massive band, they’re all playing so stripped back it’s the same vibe.”
The band’s focus is now on the release of their first full album, which they say offers a mixture of “a bit of funk, a bit of country, a bit of soul”. Laing says the title, Round 2, reflects not just a song on the album, but also “a kind of metaphor for our ongoing fight to make it”. Let’s hope it’s a knockout for them this time.
Dave Archibald: “I grew up mostly listening to Frankie Miller and Paul Rodgers, folk like that. The one thing the three of us in the band have got in common is 70s rock. But it’s mostly the old soul greats I’m into. I like Otis Redding, Sam Cooke, the likes of them, definitely.”
Round 2 will be released soon. Visit www.therisingsouls.com.