Inception to mixdown: Henri Herbert on the creation of the energetic live cut ‘Pocket Venus’

Of the many recognised piano styles, few have the ability to rouse a crowd like hard-driving boogie woogie! The contrapuntal style championed by the likes of Pinetop Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis has shaped the sound of rock ‘n’ roll and rhythm & blues significantly, placing early emphasis on the importance of beat and rhythm in dance music of all forms. Today, the style is carried forward by the likes of Henri Herbert, whose group The Fury frame it with punchy rock drums and bass, giving it a leather-clad suarve and edgy rock grit.

Ahead of the release of their new live LP and a show at Manchester’s Gullivers on 12th October, Henri Herbert talked us through the record’s lead single Pocket Venus, exploring their decision to record it live and how it’s production came toghether.

You’re an energetic and well-drilled live outfit, so the release of a live record makes absolute sense,. To begin with, why was the Gypsy Hotel the place to make the recording and how was your relationship with the piano they had there for the recording?

Thanks very much! The Gypsy Hotel is a great club full of people who love music and rock ‘n’ roll. We wanted a great vibe on the record. We feed off The energy of the audience, they are part of the show too. They had a great piano there which was good news.

When did you write Pocket Venus and can remember what the song germinated from, be that a piano motif or little lyric, a flash of inspiration…?

I wrote it in Canada. It was born out of a sudden desire to come up with some original songs. I was just about to go on stage and play a bunch of covers! I had to find something that was mine. I was heavily into the Elvis Sun Sessions at the time and Pocket Venus was influenced by that sound. 

The track hurtles along at a mighty pace; while you’re writing and refining a tune are you playing at ‘full’ tempo, or does the speed come as get familiar with tune you’re writing and where it’s heading?

Ha! In general it starts fast and then later on it gets faster!

Your vocals on the track sound really nicely treated, what effects are at play there and how much input do you have on the production of your vocals?

It’s all down to Jim Jones and Alex McGowan mixing and mastering so well, so that we can hear everything!

Jim Jones produced, mixed and mastered the live recording, what did he bring to the project and is it second nature for the two of you to work together on projects?

Alex McGowan of Space Eko also mixed and mastered with Jim. It was great to work with Jim again. I always hoped we would work together again after Jim Jones Revue but I never imagined that it would be in this way. Jim brought his expertise and experience to the record. He said we had to be good, that it was down to the level of performance at the gig. There’s no overdubs it’s all as it was. Jim and Alex did a great job mixing and mastering. You can really hear the piano nice and loud . 

Has Pocket Venus made it’s way into the live set now and will we hear that and any other new material at the Gullivers show?

Yes, absolutely. We are always working up new stuff. Can’t wait to play Manchester again!