With a set list that includes tunes by Journey, Toto, Foreigner, The Bangels and Kenny Loggins and a gloriously retro stage presence, 80s enthusiasts Spring Break have become one of the most popular tribute bands on the Irish music scene. They play a regular rotation of private parties and public shows. Their upcoming show in the Button Factory this December is completely sold out – not bad for a tribute act.
Goldenplec caught up with Spring Break keyboardist Jim Break to ask him about living in a never-ending version of the 80s.
Break explained that a big part of what Spring Break try to do onstage (an off too) is “capture the spirit” of the 80s. “The pop stars,” he said “whose music we’re playing, dressed outlandishly, but if you see a rerun of The Golden Girls any time soon check out their outfits. Blanche dresses like an ancient Egyptian prince at an aerobics class! You have to look and feel like you’ve just stepped off an airplane from 1985, on a date with Blanche Devereaux! Our fans demand it.”
One thing the band is always asked about, is where they actually come upon the range of eclectic costumes and memorabilia which features in their stage act. “The majority of it was found on eBay,” Break explained. “There's also a good selection of pretty ridiculous stuff on Etsy these days, but it's all really expensive as it's all ‘vintage’ and people seem to treat that word as an excuse to charge way over the odds.”
“It's not a bad thing in one sense because it makes us all a bit more selective - there was a stage when I was buying two or three outfits a month! I've an attic that looks like the wardrobe department for Dynasty but I can't bring myself to throw any of it out! Too many memories and who knows, it might all come back in to fashion some day!”
Apart from the look, there was something different about the music being produced in the 80s. “There were more genres of music popular at that time,” said Break, “and it was a golden age in most of those genres. It was before the use of digital technology became commonplace so the standard of playing and singing on hit records then was as good as it had ever been, and song writing was still more of an art form than it’s gradually become.”
More than anything else “there was an overwhelmingly positive vibe to a lot of 80s hits,” and it’s this vibe that really appeal to people who come to Spring Break shows. Even the name was chosen to “accentuate that we’re a good time, party band.” After all “Spring Break” is “essentially a phrase that’s mostly shouted by drunk, American college students, falling around, having a good time with their tops off. And we’re all for that. I mean, who isn't, right?”
Break’s passion for the 80s is pretty much unrelenting. Just ask him about his favourite movie, and he’ll tell you it’s Back to the Future. “Don’t let anybody sell it short just because it’s light-hearted, family entertainment – it’s as good as, if not better than, any drama or thriller released in the entire decade.”
And his favourite artist and song?
“For the song I’ll go for The Power of Love by Huey Lewis & The News. And for artist I’ll go for Huey Lewis & The News. Can you sense the theme there?!”
Spring Break have a lot of private functions coming up during the Christmas period, but they never stay doing one thing for long. “It’s all about variety. The ideal is to play a healthy balance of all types of gigs but we never get sick of doing what we do, no matter what the environment.”
But don’t they ever get sick of weddings? “I hear Lionel Richie does weddings and corporate gigs all the time. And what’s good enough for that old goose is more than good enough for this gander.” The band’s next public show is a return to The Button Factory on March 17th.
“That’ll be a night to remember,” said Break, “very slowly throughout the course of the following day.”