Spectres Talk Debut Album, Killing Amps & Ouija boards! jimmy 13/02/2015 features, interview, rock Spectres don’t value subtlety, the Bristol noise rockers are out to force a reaction. The four piece craft an unpredictable, abrasive and compelling sound that was built to divide listeners. It’s a mind altering, moving experience for some, and for others, a burst of white noise. After hearing from Spectres’ singer/guitarist Joe Hatt, I think they’re just fine with that! It’s a menacing record and follows their 2013 ‘Hunger’ EP, created whilst juggling duties at their label (Howling Owl). And now, four years after forming in Barnstaple (North Devon), the band are ready to deliver their debut full length ‘Dying’, out February 23 through Sonic Cathedral. Congratulations on the debut album release, are you happy with how ‘Dying’ turned out? Thank you. To be honest I think we are pretty delighted; we wouldn’t say it out loud but email is ok. We recorded over a year ago and we never thought it would be getting this reaction whilst we were making it, so we’re a little weirded out. It’s been a very long time between us forming and the album coming out and it feels like now is the right time. What attracts the band to harsh sounds and how do you control them in the studio? I think we all use the band as a way of expelling whatever is pissing us off that day and as a reaction to hearing so many sub mediocre bands sprayed all over the internet/radio/venues like slurry. Between us we have a lot of different influences and inspirations etc, but the one thing that holds us together is wanting to create something that you can’t ignore. The sounds are controlled in the studio by our Nigel Godrich that is Dom Mitchison. He recorded our ‘Hunger’ EP in a squat bedroom, all live, and we have no idea how he made it sound like he did; was the first time anyone had ever even got near how we wanted to sound and it made us never want to go back in a studio to pay £25 a day to someone who plays solitaire whilst you record. Thankfully, he has now set up his own recording space where we then recorded the album and we can’t think of anywhere else we’d record again. If you want to know how it’s controlled, you’d have to ask him as we just do what we want! For the uninitiated, how did Spectres form? We formed when two separate bands we were in (in Barnstaple) came to a slow grinding death. We had been musical acquaintances for a few years leading up to it so it was always going to happen, as we could see in each other’s eyes there was a need within. Where did you find the demon children from the ‘Where Flies Sleep’ video? Was it a fun shoot? That was all James Hankins’ doing. I had a few ideas for the video but he knew it needed something more. We then started to see him advertising to try and hire some children and we thought it would probably be best not to ask. A few days later we’re up in some derelict rooms above the Howling Owl studio with a little girl in a dress dancing around a ouija board, just like every Tuesday. How has the band progressed since the ‘Hunger’ EP? Have you needed to balance live (performance-based) material with more structured songwriting for the album? I think if anything the Hunger EP was probably more structured than most of the tracks on the album. There was a point when we recorded ‘I Was In A Box’ (on the EP) when we thought we may have gone one ‘bar’ too far in a noise section, but people used to talk about it to us at shows saying it locked them into some sort of frenzy. So we took that as permission to not worry about going too far again and just do whatever felt natural to us. The middle section in ‘This Purgatory’ is probably the best example of that and I think those 3/4 minutes is how I’d want people to remember us when we go. Can you tell us a little about the creative/writing process for the LP? Was it a collaborative affair or a dictatorship? I have no idea how we come up with our songs. We only practice for a couple of hours a week, and most of that time is spent staring at opposite walls scraping at our instruments. But then, every now and again something will lock in and ten minutes later we’ll have the basis of a song that we’ll then pull apart for a month. The vocals and lyrics are always the last part; I’ll sit somewhere alone with the demo recorded on my phone in my headphones and write around the music. I hadn’t ever sung three or four of the tracks on the record before we recorded them, and I can safely say none of the others will have a clue what I’m mumbling until they read the lyric sheet, which they won’t. How many amps have you killed!? And, what’s your most loved pieces of gear? I have actually had the same awful combo amp since I was 15 until one week ago. That amp never had one issue, and was unexplainably loud for its model. Then I bought an upgrade from a friend (last week) and it broke within a minute. We should have gone for a drink beforehand maybe. When we first started playing we did have equipment (pedals) malfunctioning at every show, but then we stopped carrying them around in tesco bags and that seemed to help. I think my favourite pedal is (my self named) ‘Gentle Whisper’ which is a Czech-made copy of another, much more expensive pedal. I think Adrian’s would be the pink one that screeches loads. The album artwork/photography is amazing. The confronting visuals are a perfect match for the music. That said, the ‘Lump / Heat Death’ artwork gave me nightmares. How do you approach your imagery? Ah, thank you again. The visual aspect of Spectres is something that we care and think about deeply, so if people take notice it means a lot. I had the image of the man (Pedro) coming out of water whilst I was on a plane and I had this shot of his mouth (splurting out), lodged in my head for about two months until my girlfriend (Stephanie Third – http://thirdphotography.tumblr.com/) and I did the shoot in a paddling pool in my back garden. As soon as we all saw that image we knew that it had to be on the cover as, to us, it works as a snapshot to everything within that record. Adrian and I are constantly sending each other little sketches or ideas, and the zine we sporadically put out (Dark Habits) is another place for us to channel a lot of our ideas for artwork too. Alongside sketches of Sheffield Wednesday players from the nineties. If you could assemble a fantasy band, who would be in the line-up? Geldof beat us to it with Band Aid 2. You must be pretty close with The Naturals by now, are you excited to get out and tour? What can punters expect? There certainly has been a lot of flirting with us over the years, but I think over the two weeks things are going to get very serious. It is quite cute to see how excited they are about the whole thing, but I think the first weekend of two, 6 hour journeys and two nights of nine people sleeping in a van is going to scrape all of that joy out of them, which is probably what we are most excited about. And the fact that they are one of the best bands on the planet. What are your most loved records of the past twelve months? Any tips for SBWR readers? I’m going to speak for myself here as everyone else is asleep. My favourite five off the top of my head (and in no order) would be Dean Blunt – Black Metal / FKA Twigs – LP / Matana Roberts – Coin Coin chapter 3 / Vessel – Punish, Honey and Yung Klein – S/T. After the tour’s done, what’s next for Spectres – a holiday!? I guess we have to start thinking about writing some new songs if we have any equipment left in working order and then, believe it or not, we have a Greek tour. We have been trying to play out in Europe for about three years but it is near impossible to sort out without an agent. But then a Greek God named Kostas (who saw us at Liverpool Psych Fest) invited us over for some shows and it’s actually happening! (See the dates on the poster below!) Thanks Joe… and good luck in the tour van! **Spectres ‘Dying’ is available on limited-edition translucent grey vinyl in a gatefold ouija board sleeve, CD and as a digital download via SONIC CATHEDRAL** Visit Spectres online @ Sonic Cathedral @ Facebook.