Interview Spector: ‘We Like To Talk Bullshit’

Love them or hate them, few bands divide opinion like Spector.

If you’re at a festival this summer, chances are you won’t miss Fred Macpherson. He’s easy enough to spot. It’s the glasses; sauntering around with his slicked-back hair, suit and shoes like a modern-day Bryan Ferry, one thing’s for sure, it’s certainly not an accident. On the afternoon we speak to the Spector frontman, for all we know he’s sitting at home in his scruffs after a speedy trip to Specsavers. But we’d rather not consider that. It’s less fun.

If music had a three-strikes rule, Spector would be Fred’s last chance. Thankfully, the London-based band’s ability to churn out earworm after three-minute earworm would indicate they’re not about to disappear any time soon, with the release of debut album ‘Enjoy It While It Lasts’ in August, copious festival appearances throughout the summer and beyond – and an obligatory trip to Japan after that.

After his stints at the helm of cult London band Les Incompétents and the strictly ‘on a break’ Ox.Eagle.Lion.Man, it’d be easy to assume Fred was looking for the easy life. Regular appearances on telly, support slots with Florence & The Machine and Kaiser Chiefs – it’s got to beat dingy basements and sleeping on dirty floors. But Spector’s music isn’t cynical. They might be, but the songs aren’t.

“For me, the pop song is an art form,” he explains - boldly. “That simplicity and purity is what we’re trying to attain rather than someone just thinking we’re making a cynical attempt at moneymaking or success.”

That one statement sums up the dichotomy between Spector’s music – simple, unfussy guitar pop – and their collective personality.

“I think we’re quite annoying characters” - he pulls no punches - “and I think it’s the attitude people respond to. But that doesn’t actually bleed in to the music. The writing and recording is a pure experience, but I think people imagine that because we like to talk bulls**t, that it does.”

The music, then. ‘Enjoy It While It Lasts’ was recorded in various London studios with various producers between late last year and “a few months ago.” Conscious of bands releasing material as soon as the hype machine grinds in to overdrive, Spector deliberately took their time. The decision to work with many people was also pre-planned, the band opting to match producers and tracks to “suit the full palette and emotion of the record.” “It’s a bit of a menagerie,” he adds, “a Nicki Minaj-erie, if you will.” (Oh dear - Ed.)

But the music won’t cut it alone. Fred’s very clear on this, to the point where we’d not be surprised to find a tatty Moleskine in his gig bag with the words ‘SPECTOR POP MANIFESTO’ inked on the cover in Tipp-Ex. “I think you have a responsibility to entertain, rather than just create art,” he asserts, “to me that’s one of the ways I understand pop. It’s the point where art and entertainment meet. If one was to be a pure artist, I don’t think you necessarily need the audience’s response, let alone adulation. But we like people like Cliff Richard, or Kanye West, or Tom Jones. So much of what these people do is about getting the audience’s reaction, and reacting to the audience and creating a relationship with the audience.”

Wait - what? Cliff Richard and Kanye in the same sentence? We have to let Fred continue – he’s on a roll.

“You’ve got to let your music do the talking, but more than that, you have to create a full identity and idea. You have to build something that is beyond just a three-minute song. I don’t think we’ve fully worked it out exactly; that’s what’s exciting about this. Just one day we’re talking to people and being brutally honest, and then another day we might go on TV and just lie and talk crap and entertain ourselves, and maybe alienate others.”

So you can dislike Spector without hearing their music, and get them without liking it. Fred’s also adamant the London quintet are not an indie rock band. For one, they’re not indie at all – the album’s released via Universal spin-off, Fiction. And in any case, the medium isn’t the message.

“I wanted to use the set up of drums, bass, guitar and vocals because it was the language I grew up with, and therefore the one that made most sense to me, but the music wasn’t put together by five guys jamming. In fact, that hasn’t happened once in the entirety of our whole career.”

He’s aware he sounds pretentious, the five-boys-in-a-room being “just one of the colours on a palette.” Then the K-word crops up again. Kanye. “He’s doing what people like David Bowie and Madonna have touched on in the past, which is managing to stay so much in so many different styles and utilise culture and interact with culture in a way that makes him very current. He understands the technological age that we live in.

“These days you have to be a creator-slash-curator, because the internet allows all the history of culture to be available to everybody at any one time, and so it’s not necessarily just enough to be influenced by the past. To truly understand it, you have to exist alongside it.”

If it sounds as if the Spector boys have given as much – if not more – thought to what happens outside the studio, or off stage, you’d probably be right. But it’s not a mission to re-claim, re-define or change pop; refreshingly, not one mention of good, bad, high-brow or guilt crops up in our entire chat. They’re just on a mission to live it. To be pop. As they see it.

“There’s just so many different layers of bulls**t around, and I think stuff gets in the way of the excitement and simplicity of what pop music is, and that’s why I use the word pop, because for me that’s what the best music is. It’s taking emotions and pains and happinesses and loves and excitements and translating that in a way that people can connect with.”

Spector’s debut album ‘Enjoy It While It Lasts’ will be released on 13th August via Fiction.

Taken from the August 2012 issue of DIY, available now. For more details click here.

Tags: Spector, Features

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