INTERVIEW: Spectres Talk New Album

Spectres talk to tQ about new album Condition, which is streaming below ahead of its release on Friday. Photo by Paul Samuel White.

This Friday, 10 March, Bristol-based heavy-psych specialists Spectres release their second record, Condition, a fierce, defiant follow-up to their debut that simultaneously sees the foursome make bold, progressive strides and stick to their guns.

Their original intent to hole up in an isolated Welsh hut and experiment with electronics soon fell by the wayside thanks to financial and temporal constraints, but the resulting thirst for progress resulted in a deeper relationship with their guitars.

Somewhat notorious for their attacks against the industry at large, 2015’s ‘Record Store Is Dying campaign, for example, and their Radio 1-aping video for ‘This Purgatory’, in which the Live Lounge is set ablaze, on their sophomore LP the band prove they’re more than mere publicity-merchants, and do so with aplomb.

We’re streaming the new album above, while below tQ speaks to vocalist Joe Hatt about progress, infamy, success and the lack thereof.

You’ve said you abandoned plans to experiment with electronics, what made you decide to stick to guitars?

Joe Hatt, Spectres: One factor was us simply not having time to experiment. We initially had grand ideas of holing ourselves up in a cottage somewhere the middle of nowhere for a week or two with our gear and some synths and other things that we don’t know how to play and spend some time getting to know them, to ultimately write a new record…but the reality was that none of us could take any more time off work and we had no money anyway so there went that one.

How has your approach to your instruments developed compared to your first album?

JH: I think it’s more our approach to songwriting as a whole as opposed to our instruments, which we still treat with about as much respect as a seagull treats anything with a chip on it. We played a lot more shows than we were used to after we released Dying, and I think this fed into the shaping of Condition. I can speak for all of us when I say that we expel some demon’s when we are on stage with our heads are in our amps, but touring is also a constant reminder that we are fighting a losing battle, thankfully one that we are addicted to.

We harness these frustrations, then convene and spit them at each other in the practice room. Some of the bile lands in a bowl in the middle of the room and when that bowl is full we have a song. With Dying I think we were still trying to work out what we wanted to be, and there were some very old songs on there that we hadn’t played live in a while, whereas with Condition is a product of knowing how we want to escape.

How do you think you’ll continue to progress? Will there come a point where you’ll have to experiment with different instrumentation?

JH: I probably would have said yes a year ago, but this record has made us confident that we don’t ‘have’ to. I think it’s only natural that we will at some point, but it should only be when it feels tight.

We unfortunately have loftier ideas than the reality of not being able to tick PRS funding boxes leaves us with and this is something we’d love to be able to get sorted. We spend as much time on our artwork and videos as we do our music, so we’d love to be able to bring more of this into our live show.

Do you feel any desire to move away from a growing reputation borne of ‘anti-music industry’ statements? Or do you want to capitalise on this? Neither?

JH: There are clearly more pressing issues in the world to protest against than the music industry but, in this context, we are a band and we are entrenched in it and feel as though it is important to comment on it when we feel there is the need. Even in the time between releasing our first and second record it seems that the industry has shrunk or contracted into an almost impregnable domain, where if you don’t have the money to pay for reviews or exposure or have friends in the right places, then it is almost impossible to break through. And then what even is breaking ‘through’ anyway? Being on the ‘Sound Of’ list or doing a Live Lounge?

JH: There are bands that parade around as ‘punk’ or ‘DIY’ or whatever, but then you spend one second clicking on their facebook page and everything is tied to the PRS or BBC exposure which has been brokered by their management, agent and press team who are all hand in hand with the PRS and BBC and their gigs are sponsored by Jack Daniels or Dr Martens and the whole thing is a bit of a circus.

There will never be another Arctic Monkeys and that is a fact. Every organic band you read about in two years time will have been a five year sleeper project concocted by a major label and realised via canny use of social media, and there will be a hundred other bands sat on and suffocated.

You’ve spoken about having little expectation of long-term financial stability from music, what would you consider ‘success’ with Spectres?

JH: Success for us is being able to keep the band alive for long enough where we can get our point across both musically and ideologically and not having to invest our personal wages. We reached that financial milestone a couple of years ago and have just about managed to keep our heads above the water since then. In that time, we have travelled to places we would have never been to before unless it was for the band, spent too much money on videos that we are proud of and even more money on prolonging a van that we are disgusted by and this is all we can ask for really.

Personally there is a thirst to leave behind a train of ideas and destruction that I hope one day people will affected by, whether it be by the noise or the fact that we aren’t afraid to challenge. No one is paying attention now so this fantasy is the only thing that helps me sleep at night.

Spectres are on tour across Europe and the UK throughout March and April. For all dates and ticket information, click here

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