New to us, but not new to Londoners – that just about sums up the five-piece indie rock band from London. Spector comprises of Frederick Macpherson (vocalist), Christopher Burman (guitar), Thomas Shickle (bass), Jed Cullen (synth, guitar) and Danny Blandy (drums). Recently, they played their first gig in America at the Coachella Festival in Indio, California.
A few months after (on 12th August 2012, to be exact), the band released their debut album, “Enjoy It While It Lasts“. While it received mixed reviews at first, the album has gone on to reach number 12 in the UK Album Charts. After which, they embarked on their tour.
Thanks to our friends from Universal Music Malaysia, we managed to catch Chris on a good day over the phone and had a quick chat with him while he enjoyed some normalcy on a “day off from work”. Translation: we bugged him with questions the moment we knew he had time off tour.
Let’s find out how Spector has been doing:
Hey Chris! Good to be speaking to you. Thank you for taking time to speak to us. What are you up to right now?
“I’m actually at home. We’ve been on tour for a really long time so I’m enjoying a very short amount of time at home. I’m sitting on the balcony at my house, having a cup of coffee. It’s about 11 in the morning here. I’m thinking, I might take the rubbish out..maybe do some cleaning..”
Is that your morning ritual?
“You know what’s funny? I used to have a morning ritual but after being on tour for almost the whole year, I don’t have one anymore. I’m lucky if I know where I am when I wake up these days. I wish it was simple, that I could wake up, make myself a cup of coffee, and read the morning paper – I’m becoming an old man!”
Haha! Spector is still a fairly new band. First things first, how or when did you guys meet and decide, “Okay we’re going to be a band!”
“The story really is, although we’re quite new in the sense that we’ve only been playing at live shows for about 18 months,Frederick and I went to school together. I’ve known him since I was 13. When you’re that age and you start getting into music, you kinda know that you would start a band together. It was natural that we started one together. Then, we kinda fell out really badly when we were 20 years old. I went to university and he went to start up another band. When I finished, we started talking again. You know, when you know someone really well land you really like working together, you’d just be like, okay we’re going to start a band together and we’re going to do as best as we can. So in a weird way, I always knew that I was going to end up being in a band with Frederick.”
What was the beginning of Spector like? As in, what was your earliest memory of playing as a band, as Spector?
“About two and a half years ago, we got the people we liked making music with and liked hanging around with to be in this band with us. Then we started rehearsing a lot in London. Not playing any gigs though. Just playing in like, small horrible rooms in East London where they had no natural light!”
Spector just released its first album, “Enjoy It While It Lasts” last month. Tell us a lil bit more about the album. What’s your songwriting process like?
“We work in a very strange way! We’re definitely not the sort of band who turns up in the studio and say, oh we should write some music. And then press record and see what comes up. We’re much more..get on the computer, record stuff, and keep editing it until we really know it’s really good. And then at that point, we all go into the studio and everyone starts polishing it together. Also, when we’re in the studio, anyone can do anything like, anyone can play any of the instruments if anyone has got an idea. But when we’re playing live on stage we play the same instruments all the time.”
Do you guys have any rituals that you do before you go on stage? Vocal warm ups or push ups or..
“That’s quite an intimate to talk about because it’s quite a special moment. I’ll tell you what we do but it changes all the time. What we’re doing at the moment every time before we go on stage is, we get into a big hug. Then we look each other in the eye and make eye contact. It’s funny because when you’re on tour, you can go for a long period of time..not even talking to someone. Especially not even looking at them. You can literally be in the same room as them but not talk or not look at them because you’re trying to be in your own head. So the best way to remember that you’re in a band with somebody is to look them straight in the face and go, okay, gotta remember we’re doing this together.”
“It’s really effective! If you’re in a band, I recommend looking each other in the eye, and that you look them straight in the face. And then do some thumbs up push ups as well but that’s a separate thing..”
Haha! Okay Chris. Now, do us a favour and picture yourself in a time travel machine for this part of the interview..
“Okay I’m in a time travel machine.”
If we took you back in time, sometime in the past maybe 10 years ago, what would you say to the younger you?
“That’s a very interesting question. I think my younger self would say to my older self, ‘I’m not going to listen to what you say!’. Because when you’re young, you think like..’I know what’s best’. Haha! But no, really, I would say, ‘Buy stocks in Apple’. I would tell my younger self not to worry about what other people think because I had that problem when I was younger. I always worried about what other people thought. On the hindsight, I would say just about anything. If the future me told me to do something else, well, I haven’t really regretted anything that I’ve done. I think i’d just have a conversation with my younger self and try to remember what I was like.”
Now, bring yourself back to the present time. If we bestowed upon you the power to change the one thing that you could change about the music industry, what would it be?
“We’ve got this thing now where people can upload a video or upload a song and the record industry will judge it by how people react to it. It means that the new musicians will have to stick to something – they can’t change or be flexible and can’t develop it further. In the past, people still had a chance to really develop as musicians and the best music that people make are usually the ones that they make after several years of trying to make music. It’s very rare that a band’s first album is better than their second album unless if they’ve been doing it for a long time. So if there was something that I could change, it would be to give people more time to develop.”
Such are deep thoughts from deep musicians like Spector! We’re hoping to catch them live in Malaysia sometime soon though. Will they come? You think?
We’re keeping our fingers crossed!