A Chat With Affecting Northern Irish Songsmith And Wholehearted Americana Voice LEE ROGERS

20 October 2022

LEE ROGERS is an affecting singer-songwriter from the small town of Carrickfergus in Northern Ireland blessed with a warm, melancholic, and wholehearted American voice. His musical inspiration was drawn from classic voices outside of the tensions in his homeland. Bill Withers, Marc Cohen, Tom Waits, and other great ones.

Last May he released his new – 2nd – longplayer named GAMEBLOOD. An arresting
work featuring riveting grooves and soul-stirring balladry, compelling stories, masterly arrangments, instantly sticking melodiousness, and magnific vocals. Before talking about
it and much more Turn Up The Volume starts an interview, as usual, with a piece of music to get us in the right mood.

Hello Lee, welcome

At what age and how did you discover
that you had this remarkable voice?

“I was playing guitar and learning other people’s songs, trying to sing along when I was around 16/17 years old. I think that my voice now reflects the life that I have lived, and feels unique to me.”

At one point you started singing in bars and pubs 7 days a week. For the money?
For the joy of it? You were dreaming of doing this for a living? Or all these things together?

“I started singing in bars and pubs around 1999. At the time I wanted to see if I could
make a living playing music, which I did, but for me, it became soul-destroying playing in those places every night. I wanted something more, so I started recording my originals.”

You’re a DIY artist. What does that really mean in practice?

“I’m not sure what a DIY artist even means. If it means ‘Do it yourself’,
I get too much support from other people to ever say that.”

You recorded your debut album DRAWING CLOCKS in 2006.
What does it feel like to have a record out and hear yourself
on the radio?

“It’s always nice to hear my own songs on the radio.
It’s something I don’t think I’ll ever get used to.”

Which of your songs would you pick to introduce yourself
as an artist to people who never heard of you?

“Everytime, uneasy love.”

What does making music mean for your heart, soul and mind?

“It had been a while since I have released new music, and I have forgotten all the emotions and feelings that come with playing new songs. It’s a difficult question to answer because today there are so many moving components around going out to play your own music, and lots of that take up your time. But on stage, it is always a spiritual experience.”

There’s a 16-year gap between your debut and your 2nd album.
What happened in between?

“My record label had to take a break from what they were doing, just on the cusp of good things happening, and the break turned out to be a lot longer than expected. I reverted back to my trade, and tattooed folk for a living, which fulfilled my need for art and creation for a time.”

Is there a big picture/theme behind the writing/recording
of your new album GAMEBLOOD?

“Honesty. This had to be an honest album. This had to be me facing my own
demons, looking back, looking forward, and what was happening right now.”

The LP’s title and the artwork look a bit scary.
What’s the story/inspiration behind both?

“I left Mark Reihill with a copy of the music and asked him to create what he envisioned when he was listening to it. With the music with the ‘Gameblood’ title, he came up with
this animalistic and primal version of me.”

Did you listen to records of other artists to inspire
you during in the writing process of the songs?

“No, not at all. I had so many life experiences, lessons learned, life experiences,
as well as my failures and battles, won that it was all the inspiration I needed.
I wasn’t listening to music during these times.”

Suppose GAMEBLOOD was a movie, which one would it be?

“I’m not sure, but if it was a movie, it would be directed
by Tarantino and scripted by Nicholas Sparks. Haha.”

LIFE AND LIES is my absolute favorite of the album.
It feels so real. What’s the inspiration behind the song?

“Barflys, finding love and light in the darkest of places. I’ve had some experiences of those moments myself. Just when you think you have hit rock bottom, there is always a glimmer of hope.”

Slowly but surely 2022 is nearing its end. What’s the best
track and album you heard so far?

“I’m listening to stuff that is immediately around me these days. So for me,
lots of that has been, Gareth Dunlop ‘Animal’ and Foy Vance ‘Signs of life’.”

Next step for Lee Rogers?

“I never have plans, I never look too far ahead. Life has taught me that planning
day to day is more than enough. At least whatever happens next will always be a surprise.”

Thank you, Lee, for taking
time to do this interview.
May the road rise with you.

Stream GAMEBLOOD here via Spotify

Available via iTunes

LEE ROGERS: Website – Facebook – Instagram

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