Bliss are back. First there was the stun­ning per­for­mance at Nam­buc­ca in north Lon­don ear­li­er this year, with for­mer mem­bers Rachel Mor­ri­son and Tom E Mor­ri­son on top form – along with their new Brazil­ian band. Fired up with enthu­si­asm after such a great response, the cou­ple have been hard at work mak­ing things hap­pen. And it’s reaped rewards: on 15th Novem­ber, Warn­er released a 30th Anniver­sary Remas­tered edi­tion of Loveprayer, Bliss’s debut album and they’ve just played anoth­er gig at Bohemia, north Lon­don, on 22nd November.

I met up with Rachel and Tom to find out how things are pro­gress­ing, although it’s fair to say Rachel’s beam­ing smile and upbeat mood are imme­di­ate give­aways that they’re about to impart some excit­ing news. It’s Rachel who takes the lead in the inter­view while Tom occa­sion­al­ly throws in a com­ment or embell­ish­es the story.

Rachel, what was it that trig­gered this rebirth of your music career? And how are you bal­anc­ing every­thing at the moment? 

Rachel: “It start­ed with an Open Mic at Bohemia in March which I loved, and I thought, I want to do this! I’ve learnt that life is short and some things are impor­tant. I’m in a posi­tion now to fit my ‘day job’ around my music. What feels so good is that I’m in con­trol of my life and am not behold­en to anyone.”

Bliss were rock­ing it at Nam­buc­ca this sum­mer (see review here). How long had it been since you had stepped out on stage? 

“Before the March gig, we hadn’t per­formed live with a band in six years. The ener­gy still feels very raw and spe­cial because of that expe­ri­ence. I love mak­ing each time I play into a new expe­ri­ence. I’m always try­ing to eke more out of it, pull out new things from each per­for­mance. Like in Good Thing I made up this whole kind of rap, a kind of dia­logue, dur­ing the song.”

While you were play­ing, did you have any idea how well it was going down? 

“That gig felt spe­cial in lots of ways, and yes, we could feel the vibes. You know when peo­ple ‘get’ you? Well, that’s how it was. And Rupert Hine was there, he’s pro­duced Ste­vie Nicks, Tina Turn­er and Howard Jones amongst many oth­ers – he pro­duced the sec­ond Bliss album called A Change in the Weath­er. So there he was, right down at the front, and he was whoop­ing! Adds Tom: “Before the gig, he hadn’t seen Rachel for 15 years and he said to me that he hoped there’s some­thing still there from what she had when we record­ed the album.” After­wards, he came up and he said it was an absolute­ly mind-blow­ing performance.”

So that’s the offi­cial stamp of approval that you’ve still ‘got it!’ What have you been up to since that show?

“We’ve been work­ing on new songs, try­ing to redis­cov­er old mate­r­i­al that we hadn’t released. There are things we half did and then life tends to gets in the way. It’s been won­der­ful redis­cov­er­ing songs from over the past 10 years.”

Warn­er are re-releas­ing your first album Loveprayer. How did that come about?

“I was talk­ing to Paul [Ralphes] who was my co-writer in Bliss – he lives in Brazil. I said to him: why don’t you look at a re-release? He tried but noth­ing real­ly came of it. So I just came out with it and asked him, ‘Can you give me the head of Warn­er’s email address please!’ So I emailed the pres­i­dent of Warn­er and he replied, Rachel, so great to hear from you! He’s put me in touch with their A&R guys and mar­ket­ing peo­ple…  This sum­mer has been great, I’ve been hav­ing lots of nice, relaxed chats with indus­try figures.

Things seem dif­fer­ent because of your age, real­ly, it’s like, what have we got to lose? Our atti­tude is, you just have to get on with it and if it works out, great. But if it doesn’t, well, I’ve got a full life any­way, it’s not the end of the world. It’s the best way to be, so we’re just going with it.

The orig­i­nal 1989 Loveprayer is an icon­ic album in Brazil, Italy and Ger­many. The Loveprayer (30th Anniver­sary edi­tion) remas­tered will be released 15th Novem­ber and it includes two so far unre­leased tracks. Warn­er Brazil are also talk­ing about re-releas­ing anoth­er album so that’s in the pipeline. The com­pa­ny are big fans and are also plan­ning to release an acoustic ver­sion of I Hear you Call in ear­ly Decem­ber – I was talk­ing to them on Fri­day and they have a mar­ket­ing strat­e­gy we need to look at. They are real­ly excit­ed about it. It’s a lot to get your head around.

All I want to do real­ly is sing and per­form. And I’ve almost sur­prised myself that I can still do this, so nat­u­ral­ly and so eas­i­ly. It’s just a force.”

Do you find your voice has changed since those ear­ly days?

“I think it’s got bet­ter, rich­er. Lis­ten­ing to ear­ly stuff it was very fruity! Haha! Maybe that was the fash­ion at the time, like Ali­son Moyet. I don’t get what’s going on now with vocals, the way all the vow­els are changed and it all sounds so affected.

How do you feel about the music indus­try now? Do you notice it changing?

“Some­thing that con­cerns me… there are very few women of my age singing – and we have a lot to say. You can see on TV and film that old­er women are becom­ing more val­ued and are start­ing to be allowed to be their age but still in music it’s not always the case. Men are allowed to age and do what ever they like. They can be out there on stage in a vest, with a pot bel­ly. For women it’s lag­ging behind some­what but I think it’s start­ing to change. I saw Bar­bra Streisand in the sum­mer at Hyde Park and she’s still a phe­nom­e­non, such clar­i­ty, her voice soars. And she must be in her 70s.”

“There are very few women of my age singing – and we have a lot to say”

What are your tour plans so far? 

Tom: “It’s still all in the plan­ning stage – we’re talk­ing to pro­mot­ers now. Brazil and Ger­many are on the agen­da. You have to tour as you don’t make mon­ey from record sales any more. We’ve been away for 20 years so things aren’t easy.”

How do you guys work? Do you work togeth­er all the time or independently? 

“We work togeth­er and we write togeth­er. We are lucky enough to have our own stu­dio. We realise it’s a lux­u­ry and we’re very lucky to have it. We just walk in there and we feel blessed to have that space. The sound is great, we’ve got the right speak­ers, the right mic. So it’s just a mat­ter of find­ing the time. Tom adds: “I’ve been away a lot, tour­ing with Bon­nie Tyler – we played 50 gigs this year, but now we’ve got some space and time to con­cen­trate on our music. I also feel so blessed to have the space of our studio.”

As the inter­view comes to an end, I realise why Rachel arrived radi­at­ing such pos­i­tive ener­gy: after a sum­mer where it seemed every­thing point­ed towards this musi­cal rebirth, she and Tom look ready to take on the next chap­ter of Bliss and all that it may bring.

Loveprayer remas­tered

Bliss website

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