by Kristie Bertucci
Photography by Josh DeHonney
With influences that include The Beatles, Led Zeppelin and Ray Charles, New York trio The London Souls seems to be comprised of old souls. Tash Neal (guitar/vocals), Kiyoshi Matsuyama (bass/vocals) and Christ Saint (drums/vocals) have created a mash-up sound that channels classic rock with a contemporary twist.
Forming in 2008 thanks to mutual friends and common musical influences, the guys jammed at a party one night and felt undeniable chemistry. Enter The London Souls. “The name formed after we were all sitting around thinking of cool names,” Kiyoshi explains. “It actually used to be the name of Christ’s dad’s band name back in the day. We were looking for something that not only sounded really cool, but would also have a cool look to it when we put it on fliers and material. So we took that name and played around with various computer fonts and found one with a rock feel to it and it just sort of stuck!”
Building their brand and image in their native NYC, the group is now ready to expand its scope with its eponymous debut, due this summer. Recorded at London’s Abbey Road Studios and produced by Ethan Johns (Ryan Adams, Kings of Leon), the Souls have created an eclectic album that fuses funk, soul and rock and drizzles it with a bit of contemporary psychedelic that’s heavy on guitars and filled with fervent vocals.
“Working with Ethan Johns was a great experience,” says Kiyoshi. “He really helped us and understood what we wanted to do with our music once we got in the studio. He guided the direction of the album so well and encouraged us in terms of taking everything we had and rearranging it all so that it came out perfect.”
Fans will enjoy the album not only because it demonstrates the band’s high energy jams that “make your head bang or butt shake,” but also because of the extra gems the guys snuck in. “People are going to be surprised with some of the songs we just were able to get in there,” Kiyoshi reveals. “We have some really laidback ones that you can just chill out and listen to. There’s also some that take you on a rollercoaster ride: slow one minute, then they get faster later and whatnot.”
As they embark on a new chapter and journey of their career, the guys have already shared the stage with acts including The Roots, Janelle Monae and Big Boi, as well as rocked out at major festivals across the nation. Describing their journey as “rad,” Kiyoshi and the guys are just glad to be doing what they love and finally having the chance to take what they’ve been doing to higher levels.
“We’ve been very persistent at trying to be the best band we can be,” the bassist says. “In the few years we’ve been together, people have been really liking our stuff, which just helps us grow as a band. We’ve also tried to create the best sound we possibly can, which I think we’ve really got down with this new album. It’s a very exciting time for us, and we just hope that the journey from here will only get us deeper down the rabbit hole.”