No one knew Spector’s inception just over 10 years ago would take the indie rock tastemakers to this point in their career. A standout product of the early 2010s UK guitar music scene, emerging alongside the likes of The Vaccines and Viva Brother (RIP), few of these groups have stuck it out this long.
The rise of this era of musicians was in part thanks to the accessibility of their music, allowing any disenfranchised youth with six strings to play along, but more so to the relatable indie sweethearts who fronted them. With lyrics acting as an extension of the vocalist’s psyche, circling themes of endless summers, simmering romance and lucid recollections of lost love, these previously unknown faces and voices evolved to become poster boys for an indie revolution. Fred Macpherson was one of them, and he’s still here making noise.
“In terms of UK bands, how many of those are even left?” he asks. “You know, people split up, generations fall away, some have gone on to be huge, and lots don’t exist? I think the landscape is only just starting to change in a way that is diversifying guitar music.”
“But you know, that’s the lifecycle of music,” Spector guitarist and collaborator Jed Cullen adds. “We’ve been in a band since our early 20s. And now we’re in our early 30s. I’m interested to see the ageing process within our music.”
“We’ve never been trendy,” Fred smiles. “We’ve always been quite melodramatic and bombastic.”
“We’re going to be too old to jump around the stage, so let’s do this while we’ve still got the energy to pull it off.”
— Fred Macpherson
Back with their third official full-length album ‘Now Or Whenever’ (last year’s ‘Non-Fiction’ being classified as a “compilation”), the record lands today to cement the band’s 10-year legacy, which has seen them conscientiously avoiding the well-trodden path of their contemporaries, while revealing a modern reinvention of a band that’s captured the hearts of thousands over the last decade.
“I think there was an element of not wanting to do what we could have done. I think we could have done ‘Moth Boys 2’, which would have maybe been easier to do than ‘Now or Whenever’,” Fred reveals. “We’d been on tour at the end of 2019; the longest tour we’ve done in years. It was so invigorating being onstage that we wanted to do an album that would translate to the stage.”
A quintessential element of Spector’s presence is their winsome live show. Equally bold, gritty and volatile (who hasn’t thrown a pint during ‘Chevy Thunder’, eh?), the band’s semi-cult following and ‘indie legend’ status has proved its weight in gold when it comes to keeping an enraptured fanbase. This led the group to lean closer to determining what components make their shows so memorable.
The product of this realisation is ‘Now Or Whenever’: a quietly fascinating indie reprise for the genre’s stalwarts, stacked with post-melancholic lyricism, heady guitar phrasing and a visceral feel that delicately ties each track into one tight package.
Attacking this project as a live album presented Fred and Jed with some questions regarding the creative curation of their so-called ‘comeback’. “The question was,” Fred begins, “did we want to sound more live to be in keeping with our live show? Actually, I think we wanted to sound like people playing in a room. [‘Now or Whenever’] has a bit more of a human feel. But a part of me said, eventually we’re going to be too old to jump around the stage, so let’s do this while we’ve still got the energy to pull it off.”
The album goes far beyond these expectations. Fading in with the spiritual ‘When Saturday Comes’, the record coalesces and evolves into a raw display of character. Combining Fred’s self-deprecating millennial humour with the mature spry of a tenured band, they’ve distilled the Spector live experience in a matter of minutes. ‘Catch You On The Way Back In’ captures peak 2012-era Spector with a renewed sense of glee, whilst ‘I’m Not Crying You’re Crying’ and ‘Do You Wanna Drive’ mull over the shortcomings of modern suburbia.
“What is it that bands do?!” Fred exclaims. “It’s people playing instruments, and it’s loud. What’s rock music? It’s something loud happening. And to me, I think this album, despite being minimal, has some of our loudest moments. There’s more distortion, fewer layers.” Jed agrees: “It’s like, the minimal maximum. It’s about achieving the biggest effects through the smallest means.”
This attitude has allowed the duo to see their music through a different lens. One that zooms out and tells the whole story of their existence, including the loving fans, the basement gigs and their loss of major label backing.
“The strength of the fan base to me is why we’re still here.”
— Jed Cullen
A combination of both humility in the present and acknowledging their rollercoaster past has been the foundation to creating Spector’s third, and what further way to celebrate its release and please the Spector stans than by recreating a slice of their own indie gig history?
Headlining Shepherds Bush Empire in London way back in November 2012, having released debut ‘Enjoy It While It Lasts’ in August that same year, flash forward ten years and, if all goes well, they will grace the same stage next Friday, 14th January.
“You know, had we put out those 12 songs [on ‘Enjoy It While It Lasts’] and people hadn’t cared, we wouldn’t still be here,” Fred reflects. “But I think the first time around, it was a glass ceiling. We didn’t break through. I’m not saying we’re going to break through this time, but I would hope it doesn’t just become us versus Shepherd’s Bush…”
There’s a tangible air of stoicism to the duo’s attitude towards their band, one that understands that, though Spector has become bigger than the sum of its parts, the group exist in a liminal state that can only be remedied by the fans screaming their lyrics back at them. “There is something kind of beautiful to it. It’s kind of funny and sad,” Fred notes. “I’ve had friends and other bands who’ve come to our gigs and said ‘Don’t give this up, you’ll regret it if you walk away.’
“God knows how the next 10 years will go,” the frontman smiles. “But I definitely feel like there’s more to it as time goes on. We’re building on fertile ground and actually trying to plant gardens. That’s beautiful.”
‘Now Or Whenever’ is out now via Moth Noise.
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