Lewis Floyd Henry Interview
I’m backstage with Lewis Floyd Henry after he’s just opened for The Strange Boys (a blues-rock band famous for their Skins-soundtracking hit “Be Brave”) at the Relentless Garage, and the venue’s sponsorship deal isn’t having the effect Relentless drinks probably had in mind; he quips that “it’s kinda intimidating when someone’s standing there with Relentless written on their chest,” and a pre-performance solitary Strange Boy (who was just lending us his lighter) adds “yeah, it’s like ‘RELENT!’” It’s a sweet irony that ‘relentless’ is a far better adjective for Floyd’s music then some 16+ energy drink; his self-descriptively retro-styled 60s RnB is held up by a steel skeleton of hard rock, the stream of musical power that spews from his one-man-band-setup onstage is… relentless. If anyone should be wearing the sponsored t-shirt, it’s Lewis Floyd Henry.
His diy method of performing with a setup of a mic, guitar and two-part drum set for his feet came about by accident, as he tells me over a pack of Tesco’s chopped carrots; “I had been put in this position where it was either try to reform another band and rehearse all the songs, or just like try and play the drums and guitar at the same time. I just wanted the snare for that kinda hip hop/rock sound.” This sound he speaks of is best demonstrated by his cover of the Wu-Tang Clan’s ‘Protect Ya Neck,’ the youtube clip of which has racked up over 150k views, when performed live its energy seemed to thicken the air and shake those breathing it.
The interesting thing about Lewis Floyd Henry is that he may represent that beautiful bygone era of rock’n’roll with the retro rock tunes of his debut album “One Man And His 30w Pram,” from the optimistically rolling ‘Good News’ (written about “being on the road and coming back home, it’s about hope”) to the gritty “Rickety Ol’ Rollercoaster,” but he’s certainly not any kind of Jack Whitean musical traditionalist, adamant that any recording technique developed since the 70s is wrong.
No, Lewis Floyd Henry is a man who picks whatever he wants from Rock’s history and mixes it up with a rough charm that is very much his own. As he puts it; “You see what you got and you just go with it, you find a groove, what’s possible and just drive it, certain people do it different ways.” Infact, when I asked him if he’d consider using digital drums, an idea I assumed he’d brush away with a well-rehearsed “It’s not authentic” argument, he replied “You see a modern indie band, and the fact is you’re playing a guitar, some real drums and bass, you’ve gotta look at the history of music; things have moved on with new technologies, people are always trying to be cutting edge. I’d be up for integrating loops, drumpads and stuff into my live sets, I like to experiment.”
Now that’s not something you’re likely to hear from any other rockstar playing retro-tinged rock’n’roll. But to be frank, Lewis Floyd Henry isn’t like any other rockstar. Or, to put it better, any other rockstar still alive today.
[Photography by Eleanor Collini, check out her website http://www.eleonoracollini.com and flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/elycollini/. For more info on Lewis Floyd Henry, along with a link to his album on iTunes, hit up http://www.lewisfloydhenry.com/]