London based band Spector have been tipped by many as the band of 2012 and their breakthrough single ‘Chevvy Thunder’ has gone a long way in converting people to the band. Vanessa Monaghan caught up with a chatty Chris Burman to find out about life in Spector.
How is the Spectour going?
It’s really good, it’s really fun to play in places where we’ve never played before. We’re especially excited about coming to Ireland. We did one show with Florence and The Machine In Dublin but we’ve never played our own show there. I’ve never been to Belfast actually so I’m super excited to meet new people and play to audiences.
I guess touring is still an adventure for you at this stage in the band?
Yes, definitely. It hasn’t got to the drudgery that everyone keeps describing it as. We’re fresh faced and naive enough to still enjoy it. We go out and have fun still but you can see why if you did it everyday for the rest of your life, you would eventually probably, never want to go anywhere.
There’s loads of new exciting bands around at the moment, you end up bumping into people when you least expect it. Then you remember that everyone’s doing the same, festivals and stuff, all around the place. You end up in a place you’ve never been to before with people you’ve just saw in the place you were just in. You go from Leeds, to say, Amsterdam with people you get to know from the touring circuit.
If you’re going off somewhere you don’t know while it’s an adventure for you as a band, it’s still nice to be able to meet up with people you know or recognize who are going through the same thing?
It definitely makes it sound like we’ve gone to war or something. That’s not really the case. It’s nice to have people who are going through the same sort of thing because you share the same sort of lifestyle. It’s very weird to explain. When I see my friends and family back in England, in London, I think what’s funny is if you’re in your hometown, you might see someone once every two weeks or something. ‘What have you been up to?’ ‘Oh you know, the same old’ and you catch up. For us, you get back to London and you might spend ten days straight going round, you’re almost dizzy, completely exhausted. The people you see who have stayed in the one place the whole time, it’s completely, they don’t understand what it must feel like at all. It’s nice to have contemporaries doing the same thing and sharing that.
Before you were in the band, did you have any crap jobs, is this a complete lifestyle change?
The first thing I ever did was some landscape gardening. It was actually when me and Fred (singer) were quite young. We were in a band when we were much younger together. But we did this landscape gardening, like, helped someone remodel a garden. We moved all these massive bags of dirt around and I think somewhere in our heads was ‘We’ve got to make sure that we don’t have to move massive bags of dirt all day’.
Let’s play guitars all day?
That sounds a bit ridiculous for me to say guitars would have been the only way for me to not to be in that situation but it puts your mind in ‘I definitely want to do something else’. It was weird, I used to work as a computer programmer, it was actually really fun. I really enjoyed it, it just got to the point though where you just have to follow what you want to do.
The band have been together now for about eighteen months, what’s the most unexpected thing that has happened within that eighteen months?
What’s funny about everything is that you find out everything in advance, so nothing ends up being a shock but as things approach they get less and less shocking. The one that came at us like, out of the blue surprise, was the Sound Poll, the BBC thing because that was an overnight thing, it was a real shock and an amazing surprise.
The thing that I’ve enjoyed the most and I remember it distinctly because we just got back from a tour and we’d done three dates in a row and it hadn’t gone really well. We got back into our friend’s kitchen at ten o’clock at night and we got a call from our manager. ‘Oh guys, you’ve been offered to do Jools Holland’ and everyone was like jumping round and falling down cos we were so tired but so excited. Getting the chance to do Jools Holland and then doing the thing itself, that was incredible for me. There’s very few things that are on mainstream TV that are really just about music and just about performance and the personality of musicians and the songs, to have that opportunity to do a show like that.. on my mainstream TV in the UK, there’s hardly any other music on TV.
There’s some on the radio obviously but there’s very few opportunities to put yourself across like you would at a gig to people and not have it in the mix with something else. So that was a really magical opportunity and also we were on it with Bjork, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Noel Gallagher. I remember turning up and thinking that this was some kind of prank that someone had set up for us and Ashton Kutcher or someone would pop out and say ‘You’re pranked, it’s all a joke’. Meeting those people was unreal.
That’s like a great gig line up there.
It was weird cos what all three of those musicians (Gillian Welch and Michael Kiwanuka also appeared) had all influenced us when we were younger in completely different ways and to be in a room, that’s not actually that big and squaring off, actually looking at them, being pointed at to play music is honestly… One of the songs we played was after Noel Gallagher and it was one of those moments where ‘I can’t believe we’re actually having to do this. How the hell are we suppose to..?’Because it’s live as well, we’d never been on TV before, let alone play live on TV, that was unreal.
What’s really nice is when you’re in a band with people and you share, you can build each others confidence and by the time we were going up for it to actually happen, we had something to actually prove I guess and wanted to put on the best performance we actually could. It was so daunting in a way, there was no room for nerves. We had to make sure this was really really good or never live it down, sort of thing. I don’t know if we did that but it was really really fun.
You said there that you’re all in it together but Fred has quite an iconic style about him, he’s instantly recognizable, does that take the pressure of the rest of you ?
It’s funny really, I guess the back story of how we got together .. Me and Fred have been friends since we were about 13. We did music together when we were a lot younger in a band and we always had a lot of faith in each other and when we were younger we couldn’t make it connect with each other properly and we fell out really really badly. But I always knew it was very talented, it’s funny to talk about this I guess, but yeah completely recognizable and has very strong characteristics of being a front man in a way that, I think, a lot of bands at the moment don’t really have that spirit of ‘this is what a front man does, connect with people’. I don’t feel any sense of competition with Fred about it, within the band everyone is matched in a really nice way.
Sometimes, it’s hard because he tries to take credit for some of my ideas and he’s got a much louder voice than I do, that’s obviously very frustrating but in general we all work well together and get on, especially me and Fred know each other so long, you end up being able to finish each others sentences and stuff . He’s got funny glasses as well, it always help. I remember when I first met up with him when he had them and I was like ‘Wow, that’s a bold move’, I think he’s really keen in making bold moves especially when provoking other people and I think I’m slightly less provocative than he is as a personality so I think we enjoy the balance.
You’ve just released details of your debut album release ‘Enjoy It While It Lasts’ and while lots of people are considering you the band of 2012, you seem to be playing it down completely?
I think what’s weird, especially the BBC sound poll, is one of the things it actually set up, when we found out about it, it was ‘Wow! this a great opportunity for people to learn and find out about us and discover our music’. In hindsight, obviously it’s an amazing opportunity but what people do is I really wish that they did it at the end of the year and look back on the year and say ‘this was the sound of the year’ instead of projecting into the future because all it’s set up about our album is that somehow it’s in people’s heads, it set a level that if we didn’t get some level of success or some kind of, I’m not even sure what people are looking for. Some kind of impact, I suppose. If we don’t make that level than the whole thing is a failure somehow. When you’re in a band, every step forward feels like an amazing thing, I think we’re very hesitant to set ourselves up as anything. I’d hate to be sitting around going ‘Ah yeah, we’re the future of music’ and then be disappointed about it.
Don’t get me wrong we’ve really put our heart and soul into it and I really can’t wait to hear it and engage with it and if anything, I think it’s almost ludicrous for a band to describe what they’re going to do, until they’ve done it. Even if we had set out to save guitar music, which I think is a ludicrous discussion too in some ways, it’s impossible to judge it until you’ve finished a record and wanted to give it to people.
I think, to be honest, our record is really exciting and the interesting thing to me is that I think it’s going to surprise so many people. I think probably because of the way we dress and the guitars we play, people presume a certain thing about us and I think for the most part we were just doing what came naturally. When we were in the studio, things developed in a different way that we’re still trying to adjust to. There’s a lot of different influences in there and it’s not necessarily an indie rock album and there are songs on there than fall into indie but as an album as a hole it’s very very varied. We are very ambitious but we’d never let anything but the music do the talking.
Have you heard about Hairy Panda?
Fred is going another interview and he said something about Hairy Panda. (googling as we speak).
(Your interviewer describes the Hairy Panda video, with an un-named Panda dancing to Chevvy Thunder)
That’s what I just saw. I’ve just tweeted it from the Spector account. It’s an amazing weird video.
Spector play Whelans on Tuesday May 29th.