Up Close And Personal With Spector

Many liken them to The Strokes, The Killers and The Vaccines. For a relatively new band, drawing such praise from people should be admirable enough but these indie rockers also have a list of credentials to prove their worth; with Coachella and Florence + The Machines to name a few. Just hours prior to their debut gig here in Singapore, we managed to catch Spector for a nice cozy interview at Pan Pacific Orchard. From Jamaican fruit juices to their chic sense of style, the boys from East London had all this to say:

Before coming to Singapore, did you have any expectations and has it lived up to that so far?

Jed: I’ve been to the airport a number of times because my mom’s Australian and I visit Australia a couple of times. It’s a great airport, impressive, and I guess it gave me a little taste of what the country was like. It was kinda frustrating actually. I’ve been to the airport 8 times already and I just couldn’t go outside. I thought, “This place is going to look amazing… why can’t I just get out there.” It’s a really amazing place. And there are so many trees.

Tom: I’ve been watching Formula One and I saw Singapore and it just looked like a computer game. I think just walking around feels like a computer game as well.

Spector’s sound has been said to be like The Killers and The Strokes amongst others. What are the top few artistes you have in your iPods?

Fred: I think most of the music we listen to on our iPods are bands that we would eventually end up sounding like.

Chris: This year I’ve been listening to a lot of Steely Dan, LCD Soundsytem and Robson music and Lee Hazelwood.

Tom: I think collectively we all enjoy Frank Ocean.
Jed: Yeah Frank Ocean.
Danny: Yeah that’s the one. What was the album?
Chris: Channel Orange!

Fred: Kindness, Kanye West. And new bands coming through Britain right now like Peace, Swindy, Friars, Gabriel Bruce… all that new British Music. And yeah the Beatles!

You guys have a really good sense of style. What are your fashion inspirations?

Fred: That’s a good question! I always like looking at pictures of London throughout the centuries. From the Victorian times, even though the people are really poor, pickpockets wear like top hats and waistcoats. I like the idea of going through time where everyone was smart regardless their position in life. I think that every decade, London’s always had a great sense of style and that’s influenced me growing up. It’s always thrust in your face that if you grow up in London, it’s this fashionable place. I got inspired up to where punk started, the 80s and the New Romantics. The way Brian Ferry dresses, Roxy music, Mark Almand, Bjork. Ive also been inspired by how businessmen dress and how the rich people dress. Bankers inspired me because back then I felt like they were entitled to the world and they show it in the way they dress; they deserve something more and they get that. Also when I grew up, my dad never put any effort into how he dressed. He always looked like a tramp. During weekends he would wear plain shirts untucked, half the buttons undone and fleece at the top and I grew up thinking “I don’t want to look like you” that’s why I made my parents take me to shops where I could dress up. Jed has also been struck as very stylish. I think the first time I met him he had a striped glove that went up his arm and stuff.

Jed: I think that you could get inspiration from anything for how you want to look. What’s interesting to me is looking at something that would not suit you. For example, you like a dress but that doesn’t suit you. So you have to think how could I get that impression into what I’m wearing and still make it fit?

Tom: I think that if you have the confidence to wear anything, you might look stupid but you might still get your picture taken by some fashion blog.

Fred: And that’s what all he wants. (cracks everyone up)

So you guys spent April at Coachella, how was that?

Danny: That was easily the best two weeks we had so far.

Jed: I still don’t know why they booked us.

Chris: We got there, I just thought the whole time that it was a joke, maybe some reality TV prank then we’d go… ”oh no.”

Fred: Even our American booking agent who got us the gig was a bit unsure of us playing and there was an overwhelming sense that we couldn’t screw it up and a lot was riding on it.

Chris: On our first show we really did our best to not screw it up.

Fred: I think it was a bit of a mess but it was amazing. I was there years ago to watch Kanye West and I thought that I’ll never end up playing here, I didn’t have the “I’m gonna be back here a few years later on stage” mindset because it was that good a festival. Then a year later we got called up. I think it was kinda what it felt like in the trenches for the first world war then you’re just like “Really? We’re gonna have to do this?”

Chris: Maybe not initially. We’re like yeah we’re gonna do this then a moment later, you’re gonna have your hand blown off. It’s more of suddenly having to realize the reality of it.

Jed: It was an amazing experience to be in because the line up there is just incredible and that’s why maybe we felt weird about it. We didn’t think we deserved to be part of it. We’ve been to a lot of music festivals; most of the time we take to just look at other bands because there was just so much to see.

Danny: I saw Frank Ocean really early on.

Tom: I watched Frank Ocean like from the stage and it was just like… And also you’re in your dressing rooms and you’re next to like Kendrick Lamar and Dr. Dre. Radio played and our trailer was right next to the main stage so we climbed up on the roof of it and just looked out onto the crowd and it was just amazing.

Chris: And quite quickly the security came and told us to get down.

Fred: It was a truly once in a lifetime experience. I don’t think we’ll ever get invited back. But we still did it and it’s just those one-feat thing. When I walk around at home and look at people and “You’re never gonna play at Coachella. I did”.

Tom: That’s just horrible.

Given a choice of 3 options, would you rather open for an artiste like A: Florence + The Machine? B: Play at a festival like Coachella? Or C: have your own headlining show at Avalon like tonight?

Chris: They’re all great gigs to play and for me I would say that Avalon is gonna be amazing. I think it’s the right kind of size that we’d love playing where we get to interact with the audience in a particular way. Often when shows tend to get bigger especially at festivals, you get this thing where it’s actually harder to connect with the audience. I think if I had a choice I’d add an option D; to make the venue actually smaller but yeah Avalon is going to be nice.

Fred: If you’re opening for another artiste or playing at a festival; you’re never too sure that someone is there to see you. They might just be there to see the band playing later on and you happen to be playing before them. At least if you have your own show, you’d know that you’re the last band playing and you’d know that anyone who’s still in the room is there because they want to see you.

Chris: Either that or they are there by mistake. Or maybe cause they’re just there for the bar or something.

Fred: I think it’s a great opportunity to play for anyone who wants to watch you. Its crazy to come to other countries and see that here. It’s an honour and it’s very different from getting booked for other artists to play for someone else’s crowd. However, playing your own show means you know that that is your crowd; they are there just to see you. I think we’d just like to say thank you for caring enough to come and watch.

Chris: We’ve played a lot of shows this year and we’ve played in festivals too but the shows that really stuck in my head are the individual shows we’ve played.

What are your favorite drinks?

Fred: I really like chocolate milk. And also gin. But I don’t think alcohol is a good idea for everyone. Because it might seem fun but ultimately…

Chris: You booze, you lose.

Fred: Exactly. I think my favorite liquid if anything would be milk. I’d prefer to water, or blood, or oil. If I could only have one liquid, it would be milk. There’s something so wonderful about it. It’s slightly viscous and thick. If I could have a refreshing cold milk on a hot day, it just clears my mind and levels me out. Sometimes when I’m angry or crotchety, Danny would just come up to me and say “Fred, have a glass of milk” and everything would be better.

Chris: Somewhat kind of like a baby isn’t he? I don’t know but I really like Sparkling Water. It’s a real classy drink, makes you feel cool when you’re dehydrated. Perrier!

Danny: Umm, lemonade? I don’t know.

Jed: Mine’s a drink called Ting.

Fred: Ohhh! Jamaican grapefruit juice.
Jed: Yeah it’s from I think…
Tom: They sell it in North of England.
Danny: They sell it in London now.
Jed: Ok ok guys guys guys! It’s a Caribbean drink.
Chris: But it’s not from the Caribbean. That’s just…

Jed: It is, it is! See that’s the thing. They only sell it in Brixton because it’s imported and stuff. And they might start making it now but originally it’s a drink from the Caribbean.

Fred: And also this drink from Japan called Calpico. I don’t know if you have it here but it’s like a mixture of sprite and condensed milk, which is really weird but very refreshing.

Chris: Kinda like a mixture of our two favorite drinks!
Fred: It is! Yeah maybe that’s why we really bonded
Chris: Nah I hated it. I just threw it away. (frowns)

Tom: Umm, Gin and Rum.
Fred: Mixed! Makes a great cocktail too.

You guys looked like you stepped out of Topman immediately. Is it a collective of personal styles or an image that the band wants to project?

Fred: We have to be respectful of Topman because they helped bring us to Singapore so we are here officially in association with our friends at Topman. It’s a real relationship.

Chris:  We’ve met Topman.

Fred: Jonathan Topman is a close personal friend now. I actually shopped at Topman even before this relationship started. I think it’s a good way to dress smart at a good price. I do like Topman and I do think it’s a great entry level for kids who want to get into fashion but aren’t gonna go something from Dior. I think at the moment none of us are wearing any Topman but we will be later on at the show. I also think it’s a great testament of how well Topman follow style that we look like we’re all dressed in Topman.

Jed: We’re wearing these kinds of things when they weren’t fashionable like when I first joined the band, Fred and Chris was like; “We’re gonna wear suits” and I was like “What? Why are we gonna do that? Suits are so out.”

Chris: I had to wear suits because I actually had a job and it was easier to come to practice straight after work without changing.

Fred: I had to wear suits to make my parents think I had a job.

Who would be the creative genius behind the band’s music and style? Or is it a collective thing?

Fred: I think visually Chris contributes lots of reference points and so I think we owe a lot to him.

Chris: I think everyone contributes everything. I genuinely think that Spector is the make up of the five of us. I think if one of us weren’t here it would change Spector entirely. We’re still finding about each other and that’s really fun because it’s unexpected.

Jed: But Fred basically wrote this whole album.

Fred: Musically, myself but I think in terms of the conception of songs it required the five of us. We’re still trying to get there but when I started this, I brought in the people that I would trust to develop the ideas alongside myself so really it’s five people whom I trust about 90%. I trust these guys much more than any of my ex girlfriends. Its either I made the wrong choice of girlfriends or the right choice of band members. I don’t know if its genius but I think we’re working together like an autonomous brain that will coexist in like a beehive where we just know everything about each other.

Chris: I think genius is a really tough word because the most exciting thing about us is that we know how to agree on something we like and we don’t have to explain that. We’d have a shared opinion about something that means something and that’s the core of the band.

Fred: Very much like an Ouija Board. You don’t know if it’s the spirit or just your fingers all moving together but the fact that its moving together means something already. That’s how most of the lyrics are written.

Being quite new, you guys have gotten a bit of criticism to be obnoxious. Do you mean to come off that way or are you guys totally different from that?

Fred: I can’t speak for everyone but I as a person am genuinely slightly obnoxious.

Tom: You did say it was your New Year’s resolution.

Fred: At the beginning of 2012 I did set out and say it publicly that I was going to be more obnoxious and this year it paid off. I chose to be more obnoxious and I don’t think we would be where we are had I not been that way. So I don’t regret it. My New Year’s resolution for 2013 is to be a nicer person and try to be good to people and be less obnoxious and we’ll see from there. I don’t think there’s a correlation between obnoxiousness and success. I think its just one of those things where you just want to have fun and you say things you don’t necessarily think through and you try to do something that you’d think would be funny but not really careful about it. We’re kind of a bull in a China shop at times and I can see how we do things that might seem obnoxious, arrogant, self-indulgent or just rubbish.

I think that’s what being alive is all about. You make mistakes and you can’t be perfect, you can’t be everyone’s best friend and you can’t jump through every hoop for every critic and every journalist and you can’t impress everyone. I think we’re just honest enough to realize that sometimes the negative elements of our personality and creative process would come out alongside the positive ones. I think that element of humanity that will mean we last in the end because we can realize it. We’re not a band who think we’re geniuses. We don’t think we’re a gift from God. We know we are… just joking!

Chris: The other thing is that if you believe in what you do, it’s often the case that you don’t really mind if someone doesn’t like it. It may appear dismissive or something. On our case, we can do music for a very long time in various different forms and you get to a certain point where you care about what you do so much that you don’t really mind about offending someone.

Fred: We do what we do and there’s an audience for it. We’re beginning to find our audience and it’s exciting. Definitely there will be people who would dislike us along the way. I think I’m a supporter of anyone who hates us as much as anyone who loves us. I’m just happy that people have that freedom of choice.

Tom: I think what Chris is trying to say is that we rather people have an opinion of what we do, good or bad, rather than surpass us by.

On your track ‘Upset Boulevard’, there is a part at the end where it states “Warning warning! This is a musical emergency. Piracy is a crime. Home taping is killing music. Enjoy it while it lasts.” Does that have any relation to your title ‘Enjoy it while it lasts’?

Fred: I guess it does on some level. We put that warning in there as a bit of a joke because we knew that so many people would be downloading it. It would be funny halfway through they would get some kind of thing that would be like “I hope you’re not downloading this album” and it would appear too late because they’ve already downloaded it. Contrary to popular belief we don’t really care if people download our music for free. It’d be nice if people bought it but I rather people heard it. So if people aren’t going to buy it, its better they hear it.

Chris: There’s somewhat of an irony in it.

Fred: Yeah, it’s the ironic bit of the album because it’s not actually us telling people ‘don’t download music’ because I’ve spent half of my life illegally downloading music and I think it’s more of us making a joke at people who think that you can stop people from doing so. It’s more of us celebrating the culture of sharing music.

Chris: We asked the voiceover to say ‘home-taping is killing music’ because its what everyone was saying back in the 70s and 80s when the first tape recorder came out.

Fred: They said that the music industry would be destroyed by people using cassettes and tape recorders. On the cover of NME at the year of 2000 I think, Napster came out and they also said that it would be the end of the music industry and 12 years later here we are just making a joke about how everyone is always saying that the music industry is going to end. Maybe it will end tomorrow, maybe it won’t. And I guess it does somewhat tie in with our album title ‘Enjoy it while it lasts’ not necessarily relating to our careers or the music industry. I think that it is really how we believe about everything. It’s the moments of joy in life, the things you enjoy because the great things often don’t last be it a relationship or a trip to McDonalds. It will end eventually and what we live by is to make sure that we enjoy these moments while they last.

It seems that personality is Spector’s niche; something they take huge pride in. Spector is as they say, a complete human being; each member playing a key role in the success that they have become. We just hope that we get as much explosion of character from these British indie rockers in their concert later on in the night!

Photo credit: April Luistro


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