Secret headliners of Etc. 2019’s third date, Spector know how to start something in a. Steamy East London boozer. As they drop a brand new banger and get ready for a forthcoming album, we pinned frontman Fred Macpherson down to take their temperature. Hot, it turns out.
So you just come from playing Dork’s summer party, Etc., how was that?
Yes. It was really good. Bit of a sweatbox; it was a kind of endurance test for people. Anyone who was still there by the time we came on at 10, I think deserved something great. What they got was something good. Hopefully, that was better than a kick in the teeth.
How was it playing a sort of surprise secret headline show?
It was good! You spend all this time worrying about your tours that you do once a year and then it’s these little ones that end up feeling the most special. It’s a venue I’ve been going to forever; I’ve played there with every band I’ve been in, and always it’s always been good with Spector. It was good fun, the other two bands [On Video and Vistas] are good. And everyone was smiling; it was nice to see everyone smiling. It cheered me up. Cheered everyone up! We’ve only played one gig this year.
You’ve been doing EPs rather than albums recently, what was the thinking behind that?
There wasn’t a massive concept other than it takes us so long to finish an album, or it did in the past, that we thought just making a few tracks at a time means we can get music out more regularly and maintain the energy and fun. Also when you’ve got a good however many songs in your setlist, no one wants too many new ones. It’s gone from albums to EPs to just one track at a time. We can release something every few months for the next eight months or whatever and then do an album next year.
So there is a plan to record an album?
There is. It’s not written. I’m much more used to single songs at the moment; I don’t think any of us know what a ten-track album would sound like because we wouldn’t want to just do ten bangers, it might be a bit much. It’s about getting the ratio of banger-to-slightly less of a banger. Maybe 60/40. But there’s definitely a plan to record one, probably next year.
What can you tell us about that new track, ‘Half Life’?
When we did ‘I Won’t Wait’, it’s a scuzzy easy, fun, stupid song. This one was one of the first we’d written in a while that felt a bit more, I don’t wanna say serious because that implies boring, but like we’re reaching a little beyond ourselves, a little higher. It feels like we’re saying something bit more honest. I think this is a song that slightly puts our emotions and feelings on the line. And so hopefully, that means that it can connect with people on an even deeper level. Or they’ll think it’s shit and we’ll go back to writing something more obvious.
On ‘I Won’t Wait’ you sing about ‘Hating forever, scrolling forever’?
It’s this alienated feeling that everyone has through addiction not even just to social media, but having a phone in your hand. Like, refreshing news pages because you think something might have blown up since the last time you pressed refresh, even though inevitably, whenever something does happen, you completely miss it. I feel like I’m hungover the whole time, like an information hangover. Even when I see my girlfriend or my family, it’s like they’re slightly further away; everyone’s got this barrier in between them.
It’s interesting, you talk about the song being about a short attention span or not being able to engage with people, and at the same time you’re putting out singles and EPs.
Exactly, it’s the attention span for everything. When you can check your phone and see lots of other people that you could potentially be sleeping with, it’s much harder to engage in a long term relationship. Same as when you can read all your friends’ opinions on your phone, you’re less inclined to go to the pub to see them because you feel like you know exactly what’s been going on in their lives. That’s why small gigs, like the Dork thing the other day, that’s a nice reality check. Saying you’ve actually got to turn up two hours before the band you want to see, you’ve got to stay in a sweaty room, see how much you want it. It forces a bit of reality.
When you go back to promoting an album, will that be more of a chore compared to quick-releasing EPs?
Our whole approach to how we engage with everything has changed, it’ll be an interesting challenge to go back to trying to write 40 minutes of music rather than three minutes at a time. I think it’ll help us understand ourselves. We’re getting to a point where a lot of bands break up because they don’t want to engage with certain inconvenient truths, to paraphrase Al Gore. It’s a bit like when you realise you’re an alcoholic or something, you’ve got to eventually engage with some things about yourself and your understanding of reality in your relationships with each other. Especially grown men who’ve spent the best part of ten years together. I want to dig a little deeper and see what that brings out. We might make something crap, I feel like now we’re comfortable in ourselves and not trying to prove anything. We’ve been signed, we’ve been let go, we’ve been bigger, been small. We’ve already had lots of different versions of it, so I feel like we’re a bit more relaxed. The stakes are now, how far do we want to go? That’s the interesting challenge that I’m excited about.
You’ve got a massive tour at the end of the year, hitting some towns off the beaten track – what was the thinking behind that?
It’s representative of how we’re starting to feel excited and want to rise to the challenge. Let’s really go for it. Let’s not do a five-day tour, let’s go and do all these small places and medium in-between places, and really try to engage the audience. We’re excited, and we want to spread a bit of that excitement. We just suddenly asked the question, why are we still here? And we realised it’s because we want to be.
There’ll be some shows where they’ve not had a band come to play their town in ages.
Exactly, it’s that energy we’re interested in, especially during this odd time economically and socially. Not that our music engages that particularly, but I feel like there is more of a responsibility not just as an artist, but as an entertainer to attempt to entertain. Those are the things that we’re seeking out, entertainment. You want to give some of that to people because that might be the only emotional outlet for everyone right now, ourselves included. It’s an escape.
Many jobs will be automated in the future, what about bands?
Bands should be automated, I think it’ll be better! The way that music technology has increased since I started making music and how much quicker and easier it is to record and write songs now, I’d imagine that the next step will be the computer taking a bit more of a role in the writing process as well. And I’d be happy with that. I imagine that most of us have about four ideas that could be programmed quite easily and you just throw in those random variations. I mean, that’s what most of our songs are. I think if I sat for two days with someone, not even two days, I could give them all the elements they needed to write the songs. They just need the right temperament.
Taken from the September issue of Dork. Spector tour the UK from 18th October.
Words: Dillon Eastoe