The London Souls: Rock-and-Roll Survivors

If you peruse the influences that most bands playing “rock” music cite these days, then you’ll find one or all of the following: Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, Cream, Jimi Hendrix. There is no criteria for putting those names on a Facebook profile, and most of the time those nods don’t accurately reflect a group’s true nature. But for Brooklyn-bred duo The London Souls, those artists are embedded deep within their DNA. In fact, guitarist Tash Neal and drummer Chris St. Hilaire had studied those classic-rock architects long before they founded their band.

“I moved to the city when I was a senior in high school,” explains St. Hilaire, who now shares a sibling-like bond with his London Souls co-founder. “Tash was one of the first musicians I met. We were with a small number of kids that were actually jamming and making music. We started jamming together in these little rehearsal rooms where they had beer machines.”

“I forgot about that,” Neal chimes in with a laugh.

Through the informal rehearsals, the duo realized that they had a unique connection. “There weren’t a lot of kids our age who were musicians that took it quite as seriously. We connected to music, spiritually,” Neal says. “We just vibed toward the same stuff and enjoyed each other’s playing.”

The London Souls oscillated between a trio and a quartet in their formative years, before ultimately settling on a largely twopronged attack. The band began touring around the many nooks and crannies of New York City, taking every gig they could. “We played college parties, birthday parties,” Neal says. “We started playing clubs in New York before we were 21.”

While honing their live craft, it became apparent that it was time to officially put something down in the studio. “We recorded as a four-piece, but it was never released,” St. Hilaire says.

Continue reading at


New York rockers the London Souls have been sitting on their sophomore record, Here Come the Girls, since early 2013. Not because the duo were fidgety or stuck in the studio wasting away energy (à la another Chinese Democracy) — rather, the band's singer/guitarist, Tash Neal, had to heal and recuperate after surviving a nasty hit-and-run car accident on Broadway in Manhattan back in 2012.

Calling in while backstage at the appropriately located Roundhouse (the classic London venue that was formerly a railway depot), Neal recounts those first moments after he awoke from a coma in the hospital following the accident and saw his nylon-stringed guitar sitting in the corner.

"I sort of motioned for it," he recalls. "It was kind of instinctual and gave me really good comfort at that moment. I only played two or three chords, but it felt right and I kind of knew I was going to be all right. It happened to be in the room, and I was like, 'I know that thing.' I didn't know much at the time, but I knew that thing."

Fully recovered and eager to share, London Souls return to their city the night of the record's release for a headlined show at the Bowery Ballroom on April 7.

"A lot can happen in two to three years, and we're so proud of the record and happy to set it off that way," says Neal. "It's kind of perfect and I personally feel very fortunate."

Here Come the Girls is a callback to early rock 'n' roll records where several styles are flexed and explored. Album opener "When I'm With You" is a Sixties rock/pop anthem that could rival anything found in the Hollies' catalog, while "Crimson Revival" recalls cool Seventies FM radio gold in the vein of power-pop kings Big Star. And no rock record is complete without a Zeppelin III–esque acoustic beauty, as heard in "Isabel."

Continue reading at