Yorkshire’s Louise Distras finally makes her long-awaited return with her second album ‘Beauty After Bruises’, out 28th April via Ministry Of Love Records Department. Though often referred to as a punk artist, Louise says she’s much more than that. ”I’ve just always tried to write good songs that come straight from the heart, and songs that I want to hear,” she explains. “I was brought up on groups like the Bee Gees, Queen, ABBA and ELO. The thing I love the most about pop music is that there’s no stage big enough for it. So it doesn’t matter where I sing these songs, or even who hears me, as long as the people are welcome. From the start that’s always been my philosophy.”
Having made a name for herself with her Dreams From The Factory Floor debut, Louise’s mix of spiky energy, addictive melody and unvarnished lyrics quickly won her praise. Kerrang! magazine named her one of the Stars Of 2017. Her brilliant live shows, meanwhile, included touring with The Interrupters, Dropkick Murphys and The Subways, as well as punk heroes The Buzzcocks, The Damned and Mick Jones (The Clash). She also performed at Glastonbury Festival. Describing her onstage, Louder Than War declared: “Louise Distras is like that first vicious punch to the nose; you may feel it, it may hurt, it may be aggressive. But it’s the first time you’ve experienced anything like it, and secretly, you rather enjoyed the thrill.”
To make the follow-up, Louise headed to San Francisco, California, to record with Ross Peterson (Bruce Springsteen, Elle King, John Mayer) at 25th Street Studios. As soon as she arrived, she knew she was supposed to be there.
“San Francisco was the west coast stomping ground for the writers of the beat generation,” she says. “It’s a place of great significance for me as an ex-teenage runaway, because in the so called “summer of love” alot of disenfrancised kids dropped out en masse and flocked to San Francisco with no money and no place to go, just the blind belief that when you get there you’ll be taken care of…but there’s razor blades in the candy floss. So by the whims of the great magnet I knew I was exactly where I was supposed to be when I stepped off the plane. Hunter S Thompson said San Francisco is the kinda place where you can strike sparks anywhere, so it was the perfect place for me to make my record.”
With the pandemic putting heavy delays on finishing the album, it was finally completed with Stephen Street (The Cranberries, Blur, The Smiths) at Damon Albarn’s Studio 13 in West London. The result is a jagged, guitar-heavy pop record that both shines and bruises, taking in shades of Against Me!, Bob Dylan and classic ‘80s British indie to create a deeply personal and highly brilliant musical journal entirely of Louise’s own.
Describing the deceptively major-key content as “razor blades wrapped in candy floss”, into these songs Louise has put a huge spectrum of life, humanity, frustrations and big questions. There is, she says, a lot to unpack.
“I’d say the major differences between the first album and this one, emotionally, is that I felt at that time in my life like I was looking outwards, and saying, ‘here’s what’s wrong with me, here’s what’s wrong with the world. And it’s the world’s fault. It’s the world that’s doing it to me,’” she says. “But with Beauty After Bruises, I’m looking inwards. I’m saying, ‘Well, the way I see the world is actually because of the way that I see myself. I pulled the wool over my eyes for a long time, because I was still carrying bricks from my past. And if I carried them any longer, I would have been building the same house. So I had to get out of my own way.”
Explaining the title of the album, Louise says, “Sometimes you need to hide in the darkness for a bit, but the light never leaves you for good. Lockdown changed me, I’m a different woman now. I don’t want to make music that’s a space for the best, glossy version of myself so ‘Beauty After Bruises’ is about the ugly truth. This album is messy just like me and it’s about honouring the parts of myself that I looked away from.”
When it comes to the lyrics, meanwhile, Louise doesn’t hold anything back. Take Truth In Your Lies, “it’s about San Francisco being a nerve centre of cultural and artistic activity awash with gurus, philosophers, preachers, cults and religions, everything imaginable on every street corner. It was the perfect hunting ground that opened up the possibility for predators and “gardeners” who would plant seeds in people’s minds,” says Louise. “From all over the USA came hustlers, dope dealers and pimps like Charlie Manson whose philosophy for attracting his female followers was “always find the ones who are bent or cracked but not completely broken.” So I wrote this song about finally moving on from the Spiral Staircase…”
Throughout, guest musicians help bring Louise’s vision to life, including keys from Mick Talbot (The Style Council / Dexy’s Midnight Runners), and Bruce Springsteen / Miley Cyrus / Puscifer drummer Gunnar Olsen on Drums. On one of the album’s highlights, Black Skies, Crass’ Steve Ignorant shows up to help fulfil Louise’s vision for the track of being “a nihilistic night terror masquerading as a street opera that sounds like The Clash’s Guns of Brixton meets Nirvana’s Territorial Pissings” Though Covid has delayed things for Louise Distras, it’s also given her the chance to take stock and start over. Having had time to reflect on life, resurrection, survival of the soul and seek new meaning in life, with Beauty After Bruises she has poured it all into music, to re-emerge as a powerful and promising force of high-volume guitar-pop with a punk heart. ‘Beauty After Bruises’ is out on 28 April 2023.
Track 1 – Truth In Your Lies
Track 2 – Girl In The Mirror
Track 3 – Love And Money
Track 4 – Factory Girl
Track 5 – Broken Mondays
Track 6 – Hollywood Drug
Track 7 – Time Heals Nothing
Track 8 – Forever Is You
Track 9 – Single But Taken
Track 10 – Run With Wild Horses
Track 11 – Black Skies
Track 12 – Keep On Trying
‘Beauty After Bruises’ is available on all streaming platforms now.