What was the beginning pint for your music career? How did it all start?

Well, it’s been a very long time now since I started to play guitar. I was 11 years old so… more than 40 years listening, studying, practicing everyday. Working with other artists and bands, and when my friend, my brother of heart Fred Chapellier (N° 1 of the Blues here in France), invited me and Gipsy (my wife and singer) as guests to one of this concerts, it was the beginning of our actual adventure. To say the truth, Gipsy and I met more than 10 years ago, and we formed a duet in which we played Blues standard covers, and also some song of my friend. On stage, he lent us his own musicians to let us play his songs. Then he encouraged me to form my own group, thinking I had so many things to say after all these years of study and practice !

So, this was in May 2019, and after Lionel has chosen the best musicians in our area, he took us to the studio to record our first album « Different Shades Of Love » released in sept 2020. Lee O’Nell Blues Gang adventure started like that. And the things went very quickly !

Was there any bumps on the road? What kind of challenges did you have to deal with?

Haha ! Oh yes there were so many bumps on the road ! And there are still ! I think most bands have experienced the same problems ! Well, first of all, and maybe the most important for us is that we are living and making music in France ! For a lot of people France, is like an oasis, many foreign musicians come easily to play here and some stay also to live here. That’s the fact, in France, when you play Blues Rock music and if you are from USA, UK, Germany etc… it’s easy for you to play because the promoters here think that you are good. When you are French and you want to play, you must accept to play for a beer… if they give you a chance to
play ! An other point is that here, people used to catalog every king of music in very tight boxes. As soon as your music doesn’t’t correspond to what they think, you have to pass your turn.

Gipsy: We made the choice to be independent , I mean without any Label or recording edition, cause here, and we don’t know how it is going for you guys, but here most of them take advantage of you. That idea was not possible for us. So we decided to finance ourselves our albums. You of course know how much it represents to make a CD. Then, when you have your CD in your hand, you have to promote it, and once again, we put all
the caps and do everything by ourselves ! (We must thank our PR agency to have found us on the web ! Without them, we wouldn’t be here answering your Q/A !) Well, ti sum up, we are alone in the jungle of music world, trying to promote, to send albums for radio shows, to find some venues, some gigs, some festivals…

Lionel: Alone but happy to work on our project. But sometimes, we ‘d better have a booking agency for this work!

What was the most fulfilling and satisfying moment so far?

The first of all the satisfying moments was when we received our first album at home ! 1000 copies, ready to be sold during the previous shows. But only 3 days after the delivery, government announced the Lock down of the country. Concerts and every cultural events were cancelled for more than one year ! I let you imagine our deception ! The most important now is that each concert is fulfill and satisfying for us.

Gipsy: Nevertheless, the release party for the first album was really nice and satisfying… at last we could play 3 times in 2020 !!

Lionel: The most satisfying for me, is when someone comes after the show, and says to me « you know guy, your music makes me return to my younger years… Deep Purple, Thin Lizzy etc… » With that kind of remark, I know I’ve done the job, and that person has understood what I wanted to say !

How would you describe the music that you typically create?

Someone here said about Lionel’s music: « Lee O’Nell Blues Gang, the French band that has all it figured out when it comes to putting some Blues in Rock and vice-versa ». I’m pretty proud of him, because he really puts in his music a big part of his soul, of his knowledge and he works on it so many hours…

Lionel: Thanks darling ! Well, you know I’m a self taught guitar player who grew up listening to the 70’s rock legends such as Thin Lizzy, Rainbow, Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin…among others. I’ve then studied all the Blues legends: Eric Clapton, Albert King, Peter Green, and most recently Eric Gales, Christone Kingfish Ingram or Joe Bonamassa… I didn’t want to stay in a exclusive style. And the musicians I chose perùit me to play with all that I want. I’m the only composer but I know what I want to ear. Gipsy adds the jazzy sound to my songs, and I think I have the perfect combinaison I wanted. I mix vintage and modernity for a contemporary Blues Rock. I also have
the chance to have found the female voice I needed. So… listen to us, hope you’ll enjoy !

What is your creative process like?

There is no particular rule when Gipsy and I work on a new song. That can stars by a simple riff, or thanks to Gipsy’s lyrics. It depends. I can sometimes record the whole music by night, and let a message on Gipsy’s computer saying « write me something on that new song! »

Gipsy: Yes, but what is very nice and easy for us, is that as we are living together, we can work when we want on new songs.

If you could change anything about the industry, what would it be?

Lionel: Regarding to the bumps that can slow down us, I think promoters and festivals should not be so close to bands who have no label to book them. Doing that, people don’t have the opportunity to discover other bands, because the same ones are always booked in all the festivals. Of course, I speak regarding to France…

Gipsy: I also think that streams should bring much more money to artists. Life and mentalities are changing, and the way to consume music is so ephemeral and going fast, that it’s too difficult for independent artists to be able to promote their latest album in such a short time. People always want something new, a new single, a new album, even a new video , but they don’t have any idea of how much it costs ! Being an indépendant artists for whatever reason, is a very hard way to build a career.

If you were asked to give a piece of advice to upcoming bands, what would that be?

Difficult question, because that is such exciting when you can live thanks to your passion. But young bands have to be patient. It’s such a long and hard way to get recognize. Sometimes you can try to force fate, telling yourself that you have to be in the right place at the right time; but…

Gipsy: Keep your eyes and ears opened to all the people that will be next to you in that way. Don’t forget to do what you want to do, but listen advices some can give you, even if people are not always well caring…

Lionel: Trust in yourself, and be proud of you and your music.

What has been the best performance of your career so far?

Every concert is the best performance because that is the emotion I felt at that precise moment.

If you didn’t become a musician, what would you be doing now?

I can’t imagine myself without music in my life. I really don’t know what kind would be mine …
Gipsy: He said it all , even if I was considering studying law… Well, I prefer not to know what would be my destiny …

What is new with the band at the moment? What are you currently working on and would like to share with the world?

Lionel: « This is us » our second album. I’m so proud of it. I’d like to share it the most I could, in France, but above all in Europa. It’s a 14 original songs with so different atmosphere in each song… Listen to us, like and share our work if you like it !

Site web : https://www.leeonellbluesgang.com
Youtube : https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCU9bcdZ-UVh2_EM83NxyjFg
Spotify : https://open.spotify.com/artist/4uU0QwUeHcEk1e7tsANRjH
Deezer : https://www.deezer.com/fr/artist/107074722
Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/leeonellbluesgang/


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