As comebacks go, Spring King’s return with ‘Animal’ is a total belter. Stating its intentions within seconds, it’s a brilliantly filthy, riff-dominated monster, with vocalist Tarek Musa sounding more inspired and fired up than ever. A first taste of upcoming second album ‘A Better Life’, it’s the most exciting teaser we could have hoped for.
“We were playing ‘Animal’ on our headline tour at the start of this year,” Tarek tells us, fresh from releasing the track and its brilliant, crazed music video, “and I just couldn’t wait for it to come out, because although people were jumping around to it already, I could just tell that when it comes out, they’ll be going even more apeshit.” The band’s set at last month’s Live At Leeds inevitably saw this come to fruition, with the track received like an anthem only days after it was unleashed into the world.
A self-described workaholic, the band were only off the tour for debut record ‘Tell Me If You Like To’ for a matter of weeks before he and guitarist Peter Darlington found a writing room down in London to make headway into LP2. Before long, a gargantuan sixty tracks were available to them, and the record began to take shape.
“This new album is so fucking loud and fast.”
— Tarek Musa
“We rushed the first record so much,” the drummer looks back, reflecting on the ‘Tell Me If You Like To’ sessions, which the quartet raced through in just three weeks. “There was a bit of a pressure there; we'd just become the first band played on Beats 1 and wanted to kick on as fast as possible, and so we got something out there quickly. For this record, we'd write two or three days a week for a couple of hours a day and take it quite easy.” When the songs became fleshed out, they took them to Vale Studios in Worcestershire, a vast upgrade from Tarek’s now-infamous Manchester bathroom, where the debut came to life.
“The first album made us consider trying to take a breath,” he says of lessons learned from touring ‘Tell Me If You Like To’ for nearly two years, before revealing that he, uh, didn’t take his own advice at all. “This new album is so fucking loud and fast, and when we were in the studio, we really should've said to ourselves, you know, 'Guys, let's put in some slow breaks here', because although some of the songs are mid-tempo, they're still super heavy,” he laughs. “I should've learnt my lesson from the first album, but I'm in it now!”
The answer then, naturally, looks to be to head to the gym. “I love bands that have such a huge stage presence, and we want to command the stage that way too, but when we’re playing such fast, loud music, we need to stay fit,” he says, almost grimacing before recounting some of the band’s early shows.
“It’s about rebuilding, and knowing there’s another way.”
— Tarek Musa
"I used to have a vomit bag on stage," he laughs. "I remember throwing up on one of the guys from FIDLAR's shoes. We were supporting them at Heaven in London, and so happy to have that show. The crowd were going nuts, and we walked off to see them having watched us from side stage, telling us it was a great show, and then I just let it all out..."
While album two looks like it might see less of this type of on-stage behaviour, it’s still a non-stop barrage from a band at the top of their game. It’s also a record that comes with a vitally important, strong message.
“'Animal' was the first song we wrote for the album, and it was a really special moment," Tarek remembers. “For me, it's about that feeling of being completely lost, and just living for the weekend. There's this tension we all have, and we're all on so much social media, and I really do feel quite animalistic a lot of the time, just sitting there thinking 'What the fuck am I doing on this piece of shit phone? I'm scrolling through and there's just nothing...' and there's this tension that you don't quite know how to relieve. In a lot of ways, phones have fucked us. We’re not trying to make it a massive thing - we’re not going to write our ‘Everything Now’,” he adds with a smirk - “but ‘Animal’ is that tussle between modern life and wanting to be human.”
“This is where the band really starts.”
— Tarek Musa
“The album title is 'A Better Life',” he continues, now presenting the flipside to ‘Animal’’s frustrations, “and it sums it up pretty well. It's about improving where you are, and rebuilding in an apocalyptic world if something's gone wrong in your life. It's about rebuilding, and knowing there's another way. I've become a bit wiser after writing this album," he reflects. "I feel like I've learnt something from the process about life itself, which sounds fucking cheesy, but…” he shrugs, smiling.
‘A Better Life’ also sees all four members of Spring King entering the writing process, where ‘Tell Me If You Like To’ was written almost entirely by Tarek. In a live setting, they’ve been a ‘proper band’ for years now, but album two sees that solidified on tape, and presents a far stronger unit for it.
"We'd been a band for four years under my songs," Tarek lays out, "and it feels like this is where the band really starts. It's always been this way because of time restrictions, and people having day jobs, but this album is where it becomes a case of us all being in this together. It sounds like everyone's chipped in, and it's amazing. It makes me feel happy that we've finally caught up on record to where we've been in a live setting for years now.”
'A Better Life' is out 17th August via Island.
Taken from the June issue of DIY. Read online or subscribe below.
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