INTERVIEW: SPECTOR

Recent success for the East London five piece, Spector, has secured them in taking over the indie-guitar music genre, and these boys are serious music makers. Nominated for the BBC sound of 2012 poll, featuring on Later… With Jools Holland, touring with Florence and The Machine, playing Coachella and continuing on their own UK tour, it has been a busy 6 months for the band. They’ve come afar since playing the BBC Introducing Stage at Reading and Leeds last year, and now all we await is their debut album.

After standing in the packed O2 Academy for their fantastic show where front man Fred Macpherson stole the stage with his confident attitude and wowed the crowd with their high energy and powerful sounds, I was warmly welcomed by the bands hilarious attitude and never-ending chat. Here is what they had to say about their album, touring with Florence and the Dazed and Confused question “Is East London dead?”

LT: So I guess when Spector was formed you guys were already pretty experienced considering Les Incompetents and Ox. Eagle. Lion. Man?

Fred- We’ve all had musical experience; everyone had been in a band on and off. We were more experienced in playing in bands than playing instruments. We were just all young people who knew that the most important thing about being in a band was saying you were in a band, and the songs! Everyone was just walking around school saying ‘I’m in a band!’ and I decided to start one after my Jewish friends started a group called the Edelweiss Pirates. It’s named after one of the Jewish anti-Nazi youth groups in Germany who went around and listened to Jazz music in Nazi Germany when they weren’t allowed.

So Chris and I were at school saying we were in a band but had to make a demo in order to have a gig, but the problem was that we hadn’t even written any songs. We got a guy who was a couple of years above us to come and record a demo, so we set up all this borrowed equipment at 11am and then had a couple of hours to make up a song, record it onto a tape and then we’d have our demo by 5 o’clock! Anyway, it was a very bad start to a very bad career, but here we are in Leeds so you can’t complain!

LT: When did you guys realize you would work as a band and it all fitted together?

Fred: I knew it would fit together before we had even got together. It was a complete vision! It was one of those things that was like ‘what do we have to do to make this work’. So we had to find everyone that was the right fit- like building a car, you don’t put a car wheel on it, because you know what you are looking for! As a lover of bands I thought I knew what it would take to make a band, and here we are!

LT: How’s the ‘Spectour’ going, How did Leeds compare to Manchester and Camden?

Jed: They were good in different types of ways, they were different shows, I love Leeds.

Fred: Manchester was the first night of our tour, and a great start. People in Manchester know how to have a good time. Neither was better, they were two great nights, two great northern cities.

LT: Tell us about touring with Florence and the Machine?

Fred: It was amazing actually, one of the best experiences I have ever had. We were just playing to thousands of people every night

Chris: the food was really nice!

Jed: It was cool to go around Europe and play massive venues. The first night was really scary- playing the O2 in Dublin- it was like 18, 000 people or something and we got there really late as well so we had about 4 minutes to do a line check and get all the equipment sorted

Fred: If you are lucky enough to support an artist like Florence then it’s something you’re never going to turn down, and it’s that opportunity of getting loads of music out there. Yeah it was just great, it’s always going to work when you pick the right band and they like you. A lot of support tours you can tell they are not working, but touring with Florence is something I will remember my whole life, such an amazing experience. Even just watching her, she’s an inspiration. She really puts on a show, and does so on a regular basis.

 

LT: What can we see from you with the rest of 2012? European festivals- Benicassim, Reading and Leeds….

Jed: Ibiza Rocks too! With the Kaiser Chiefs, so that’ll be fun

Fred: we are also going to Japan for our first time. We’re playing at a festival where Rhianna is playing so we are really excited about that. 2012 is going to be a year we remember. Already, everything that has happened has been what I have always imagined, and it’s all come true. It’s just crazy when what you imagine comes true! You hope for something, and then when it materializes it’s even better. It’s like ‘oh I will find a lovely wife or husband and have lovely kids’, if that comes true I wouldn’t know, but I am sure it’s a wonderful thing. Even if our career doesn’t last 2 years, the first year we have had has been something that we will remember forever and has made such an impact. It’s big. It’s like the Eastenders Christmas special or something

LT: Oh I have never watched it!

Fred: It’s big you should check it out. It’s great stuff. You can have that on record!

LT: Obviously you are aware how you are compared to- Roxy Music etc- but who would you guys compare yourselves too?

Jed: OMD?

Fred: OMD, yeah that’s a good one. I think we are influenced a lot by some of the early 2000 indie bands, but I don’t think we sound like them. We’re a mixture of that and British 80s music- even though we’re not a synth-pop band. We also listen to a lot of hip-hop and I think that influences not so much our music, but the way we perform and the way we perceive ourselves. We like to perceive Spector as a proper act. We enjoy doing it, we don’t feel embarrassed when we get on stage, we believe we have something the audience might enjoy.

LT: Well I’d say the reception you got just now goes to show! There was lots of energy in the crowd!

Fred: Thank- you! That’s very kind of you

LT: Who do you suggest we should be listening to?

Chris: Gabriel Bruce, he’s amazing, his record is out of this world!

Tom: Blood Orange

Chris: Jessie Ware! Playing today, she’s incredible, her voice live is just unbelievable and she’s been making a lot of good songs recently.

Fred- British music is in rude health right now, it’s kicking off, it’s not even a guitar music phenomenon it’s like a general music phenomenon in the 21st century. The walls of genre that defied the 70s/80s/ 90s before the internet connected everyone, are going to be taken down and everyone is going to be able to enjoy all types of music as music. And I think that is happening in Britain right now- subculture and dance music to pop and big artists like Adele. She’s just out-sold “Thriller”. When people say, ‘oh artists don’t sell records any more,’ that shows they are pretty wrong.

LT: Where do you see yourselves in 5 years time?

Tom: celebrating the 5 year anniversary

Fred: … with a reunion show! I find it hard to believe that this group will last 5 years. I hope it does, but there are so many egos in the group and at this stage mine is quite prominent, so it will be interesting to see if they can continue to co-exist. I respect anyone who wants to leave this band because they think they are better than this band and I guarantee that that time will come.

LT: What were the records you guys grew up listening to?

Fred: The Strokes, ‘Is This It’, that came out when I was about 13.

Danny: Wu Tang, ’36 Chambers’

Chris: Blur ‘The Great Escape’. I bought it on cassette and I listened to it religiously for about 2 years when I was growing up. It’s way too long but then it’s so good. The artwork on it- it was them on a boat in the sea- I just thought it was magical.

Jed: Jimi Hendrix ‘Are You Experienced’. My dad only listened to it once because he didn’t want it to be ruined. It inspired me and because of the way my dad respected the music it really imprinted on me.

Tom: Red Hot Chili Peppers ‘Californication’.

LT: What was the first track you wrote together?

Fred: It doesn’t have a name to it, but it is an indie-pop anthem, but it is yet to be recorded or played more than once.

LT: Does having lots of different influences effect the songwriting process?

Danny: Fred is the main song-writer but then with recording the album, doing shows and mixing it all afterwards is more of group thing.

Fred: I think the process by which we make music will become more fluid as times goes on.

Danny: Some of the songs were written before we were even in the band.

Fred: There is sort of a collective consciousness that permeates all of our music. Right now I don’t think we sound like one influence, or a group of influences. I am really excited for our album to come out. When people to say ‘oh don’t read reviews of your own album’… I want to read reviews of our album just to find out what people says it sounds like so I can listen to that music. Not because I don’t believe we sound like other stuff, I’m just interested to understand exactly what our influences are.

LT: What is your main inspiration behind your lyrics?

Fred: A nostalgic element. Not a musical nostalgia but when you have feeling that the present triggers feelings about the past that makes you question the circumstances that you are in. So I guess, heartbreak is a main theme running through, more so the feelings that it triggers. Sometimes when you are in love you never feel as much in love as that moment when that heartbreak sets in, and that’s what love is.

I guess there is a kind of desperation that runs through the album and a yearning and longing…but then a proving to yourself. Also just the social monotony. As time passes you begin to think about feelings and as you become more adventurous, more open minded, excited or more enticed about the world around you, you come to wonder when you became cynical and why and who you blame for that and how did you escape that. It’s kind of a cycle of growing up in 21st century Britain. It’s a very honest album- say what you see and I think people enjoy that. I guess it’s just breaking up and shit.

 

LT: What do you think of the East London vibe, Dazed and Confused said last month that the creative vibe is slowly being eroded!

Fred: That’s 100% not true!!

Chris: That’s just something that magazines question. Instead of celebrating everything that’s happening, they are reflecting on it and taking ownership. They are saying ‘oh maybe it’s all shit’ or they are just making a debate that isn’t really there. Magazines often do that, they shine light on a debate that isn’t there, and just start an argument that they want to have. If you have been in East London for any amount of time then it is just really exciting. There are a lot of young people, all in one place, doing stuff, it’s unreal! Everyone wants a piece of it and wants to move in.

Tom: what’s going on in London at the moment is just so exciting. It’s unique.

Jed: I find the whole argument about different areas of London stupid, it’s just about how much it costs to live there! There are plenty of artists who can’t afford to live in East London at the moment because it is too expensive, so they are in places like Bermondsey.

Fred: I guess to some extent it is just how it is associated socially with the people we hang out with. The internet has destroyed creative ghetto-ization. I don’t think it as compartmentalized as it was. Now you don’t need to travel to interconnect. There are people who make music in different countries that I can speak to each day. Chris is right, when magazines ask those sorts of questions, they are more so saying ‘are magazines like us still relevant?’ because the internet exists.

Chris- yeah when you have got the internet, and there is more going on than ever, it almost feels like, you can cover everything and know about everything, so for a second you feel like you don’t know what’s going on.

Fred: they publish those magazines once a month, how can you keep up. Internet is like a worlds collective consciousness we can all be connected wherever we are. East London- is it dead? I hadn’t noticed. Everything changes and that’s just something to live by!

For more information on Spector and tour dates check: http://spector.co.uk/

Interview by Lara Thomas

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