Rock and roll for the new (and old) generation
A look back at many great rock artists shows that they never really “fit in.” Growing up in the ’90s, Tash Neal felt that way, too – like he was born 20 years too late. “We’ve never really fit in, to be honest,” says Neal, guitarist and frontman of New York-based rock duo The London Souls.
Neal says he was really attracted to some of the melodic elements of earlier music – bands like Led Zeppelin and Cream.
Prior to his discovery of rock and roll, Neal was no stranger to music. Both of his parents played instruments, and they eventually sat him and his brother down to choose their own instruments to learn.
“I really have no idea why I chose the guitar,” Neal says. “It was a completely random choice. But once I discovered rock and roll as I got older, I knew this was what I wanted to do.”
Upon reaching high school, Neal eventually found a like-minded musician with a similar passion for classic rock. In stepped drummer Chris St. Hillaire.
Singing duties eventually fell to Neal. “I never really liked my voice,” he says, “but I figured if I was writing the songs, I should probably sing them, too.”
Shortly after the band first got off the ground in 2012, things took a turn towards the tragic. A near-fatal car accident – a hit-and-run in New York City – left Neal in a medically induced coma for more than a week. The original outlook was grim, but eventually he went on to make a full recovery.
“Something like that really changes your perspective on life,” Neal says. “The first thing I did when I woke up was to grab a guitar to make sure I could still play.”
Two years later, The London Souls have been a breath of fresh air in the rock genre. Blending blues, soul and funk into a rock and roll package, Neal and St. Hillaire explore a genre that had been established well beyond their years.
“Even though I didn’t grow up in that era, I was always attracted to the rhythm of a song,” Neal explains. “So I think that’s why I was drawn to blues and funk and music that had some swing to it.”
Many of the songs are focused around rhythm, whether it’s Neal unleashing a bluesy guitar riff or St. Hillaire backing him with a foot-stomping beat. Neal’s songwriting and vocals also measure up to the music – howling over his guitar a lot like the up and coming bluesman Gary Clark Jr.
“For me, songwriting and singing was never a forced thing,” explains Neal. “It all really comes from within; I kind of absorb everything around me and let it flow out of me.”
Neal will showcase his many talents on the band’s second album, Here Come the Girls, which is slated to release this summer.
Catch The London Souls at Fed Live (234 N. 2nd St., Harrisburg) on Sunday, July 20. 7pm doors. $10/$13. 21+. Advance tickets here.