Formed in 2015, The Cold Blooded Hearts are fronted by former QPR player and current manager Gareth (Gaz) Ainsworth, and also comprise bassist Ron Campbell, drummer Luke (Chalky) Sergeant, and guitarist/songwriter Lee-van Sergeant. Several years in gestation, the bands debut album The Cold Light Of Day is produced by Yes keyboardist Geoff Downes and is soon to be released via Cherry Red Records. In light of this auspicious occasion, we caught up with Lee-van Sergeant to get the inside scoop on this exciting time.
Can you start by telling me about your musical interests. What first caught your imagination, and what inspires you today?
I have many influences, I don’t listen to one genre of music, I let my mood take me. I listen to music from the 60’s through to now and occasionally 50’s blues. I do try and not listen to a lot of modern music when I’m writing so I don’t follow any trend. But my main influences are the Clash, anything by Joe Strummer (great lyricist), Tom Petty, Dylan, Humble Pie, etc., all types really…I try to give everything a chance to thrill me.
For the uninitiated, can you give a brief history of The Cold Blooded Hearts?
About 20 years ago me and Gaz met through my cousin (Karl) as Gaz had just joined a band that was just starting to form but the lead guitarist they had was leaving, Gaz was speaking to my cousin about this after a QPR game that Gaz had just played. He had joined a band and they were looking for a guitarist, so my cousin told him about me and Gaz gave me a call to see if I was interested. So I went along to their rehearsals, I also took Chalky along with me as we were both QPR fans and I thought it would be good for him to meet Gaz, and while me and the band were working on some songs Gaz had a good chat with him, Chalky was about 14 at the time and had been playing drums since he was 7 so he was quite competent. At the end of rehearsals, they asked if I would join them and I thought this could be a bit of fun, I told them that Chalky played and the drummer asked him if he would like to have a go on his kit and Chalky blew them away and from that moment on I think the band knew that one day he would be the drummer in that band which he was 3 to 4 years later. The band stayed together for about ten years and in that time I had written a few songs that we played in-between the cover songs, so now I got the craving back to write again, which I had previously given up for a few years before joining Dog Chewed the Handle. I kept trying to encourage the band to write but they were not interested, so me and Gaz left the band to write our own material (Chalky had already left the band a few months earlier to join a hard rock band who had a record coming out). But in the time after the break up me and Gaz only wrote one song together which was ‘Love’s Lost’, mostly because of his other commitments. We played an acoustic show in Camden to show some of the new songs I had written but apart from that show that was about all we did for a few years until I decided to put together a band. So from a friend of a friend I found a drummer (Mark) and a bass player which was Ron. I asked Gaz if he wanted to be the singer and he jumped at it, I told him what I wanted to with the band and he was totally in. So, me and Gaz talked how we wanted the album to sound so I went about writing the songs for it, I had a few from a few years before which I thought would suit the style we were going for and wrote a bunch of songs from which I picked out the ones that ended up on The Cold Light of Day.
What did each of you bring to the writing and recording process?
On this album I wrote all the tracks except ‘Love’s Lost’, on which me and Gaz both wrote the lyrics. As for the recording side, they were recorded at my place where I basically put them down as a demo with me singing them and playing the guitar and bass parts and put the drums on them as a rough guide. Then I tend to live with them for awhile, making changes here and there and when I feel ready for the band to hear them, and that’s when they have their input and we move forward from there.
What were your musical influences on this album?
As for a musical influence with my writing I don’t tend to sit down and think I want to write a song like that or like that, it tends to take shape as I’m writing it. I won’t say that some of my songs are influenced by other artist but I don’t go out of my way to try and sound like them.
And your lyrical influences?
My lyrics are about everyday life, what my life has been through and what I have seen in my journey, and a bit of poetic licence.
It is a real coup having the living legend that is Geoff Downes producing this album. What did he bring to the project?
It was great having Geoff on this record; his playing is exceptional the piano on `Hollow` as really brought this song forwards id. His ideas on vocal harmonies were great and above all what a wonderful man, it was a real honour to work with him.
Now The album is in the can and ready for release, what are your hopes and aspirations for The Cold Light Of Day?
Now that the album is finished which I must say has been long and hard journey, but an interesting and fun one. It entailed me sitting in this studio for around 18 months, mostly on my own through the pandemic. It was a really good experience as this is my first crack at recording and producing an album (shared with Geoff, before I would only record demos, but now that it’s done I’m really proud of what we have achieved and I’m hoping it will give the band confidence to move forward and keep writing good songs together.
What my aspirations for this album? I suppose for people to really enjoy the songs and to relate to the songs through their own journeys and experiences and have their own stories to tell.
Finally, how will you promote the album? Can we expect to see you on the road anytime soon?
I am hoping to promote this album any way I can and in every country that will play it, through playing, talking to people about it who want to listen but mostly playing it live because I feel that that’s where people will feel its energy.
So look out world we are “The Cold Blooded Hearts”!