I had no idea what to expect as I walked down into the dingy basement of Mercury Lounge Thursday night, hopping over moats of water and trying to not hit my head on a pipe. I was greeted by a gaggle of four British gents and one Frenchman that make up the romanticized garage rock/indie pop band that is Spector. We bonded over silly things like which US state was the hardest to spell and me trying to teach Tom to hula-hoop, but we also delved deeper.
These guys have quite the sarcastically funny personalities but they have a message they want to send with their songs and you can tell where that comes from when talking with them. Their songs are catchy and meaningful, a combination that’s hard to find. Combine that with their all-over-the-place, rolling-on-the-ground, stage performance, you can’t help but feel some feelings.
Spector’s performance Thursday night included a lot of crowd face grabbing, hair whipping, mic-stand tilting and impromptu band piggyback rides initiated by lead singer Fred Macpherson. His energy as front man of the band is over the top and dramatic, but not in a bad way. It’s just enough to draw you in and wrap the audience around the band’s little finger.
Being able to chat with the band beforehand about their journey and their most recent album, Moth Boys, made me appreciate the performance that night even more.
P&W: Tell me a little bit about Spector and how you guys got started.
Jed: Let’s turn back the clock a little bit, back to the year 2009
Fred: 10! 10!
Fred: 9 slash 10. The idea started in 9, the reality started in 10
Jed: September of 2010
Danny: These little details were really important
Jed: When was the first show
Fred: January 2011
Jed: Oh yeah we started rehearsals September 2010
Fred: That three months were the last real footloose carefree time of our lives, you know, before that crazy business they call show took hold and really ravaged us beyond our years and made us into the, kind of, very arrogant, very famous, very rich people we are today. [*sarcasm*] We all knew each other to various extents. It was first the four of us: Danny, Tom Jed and I with a guy called Chris. Chris is no longer with us. He was on guitar. He left, we now only have one guitar player. Danny was on drums, he moved to keyboard and then we got Yoann from France on drums and that’s who was on the album in 2012 and the recent album in 2015 which brings us up to now on our tour for our second album where we’re finally in New York with legitimate American visas. Your country has welcomed us in with open arms.
I heard your first show in New York was on Tuesday [at St. Vitus in Brooklyn]. How was that?
Fred: It was good. It was in a rock bar. Like a really kind of…
Tom: Heavy rock bar
Tom: I would even say metal
Danny: Yeah it was more metal than rock
Fred: We stepped up and played “Raining Blood” by Slayer to open the show. Luckily we remembered it from out earlier rehearsals.
Did you actually?!
Fred: No, haha
That would have been kind of cool
Fred: We did a duet of “Changes” by Black Sabbath, him [pointing to Tom] in the Kelly Osborne roll and we did it on the revolving seats like they did in the video! That’s actually a really good song sadly sullied by that version.
Tom: And the Eminem version
Fred: The Eminem version…yeah, at the time I thought it was quite good.
Tom: I remember you telling me that you liked it.
Fred: I still like it
What were you most excited about seeing/doing coming to New York City?
Fred: I think [we’re excited] because we have friends here. Friends, food, clothes.
What kind of food?
Jed: We just went to Katz’s and bought the pastrami [sandwich]
That thing’s intense!
Fred: I was only there to re-enact the orgasm from When Harry Met Sally.
Jed: Oh, is that in there?
Fred: Yeah, did you not see the sign?
Jed: Oh I always see that place in like, Man Versus Food and all that. I can’t really look for the sign.
Fred: The sign was right behind where I was sitting.
Jed: Ah, for poo’s sake
Fred: I think us going there is like people going to Knotting Hill and looking for the blue door
Tom: Because a lot of people do. Is it still there?
Danny: No, it got sold a long time ago.
Tom: To Hugh Grant?
Fred: Hugh Grant spent the rest of his life alone living out the story of Knotting Hill in real time and every time it ends he starts again.
So you guys just put out an album, Moth Boys…
Fred: An album, but I think we don’t have anything official out here [in the US]. We’re going to be releasing a kind of compilation early next year of all of our best bits
Tom: You know what we should call it? Now That’s What I Call Spector!
Fred: Yeah that’s a good idea
I think that will catch on pretty well.
Do you have the Now That’s What I Call Music here, that series?
Fred: Great. Now That’s What I Call Spector is part of it. So look out for that in early 2016!
And how has your new album been received so far?
Fred: With open arms really. It’s a bit like the blood of Christ: those who are willing to receive they can and those who are not we have to force it through the letterbox in a jiffy bag. Those who’ve heard it, like it. That’s why we’re starting to leave the UK, to try and play stuff to people who have never heard us at all.
Do you guys have a pretty decent following in the UK?
Fred: That’s probably exactly how I’d describe it: pretty decent. Enough to keep fine, but we need to kind of spread the word to other continents because unfortunately not everyone will come and see us in other countries unless they’re on holiday. That said, I’m sure there will be a few English people here tonight.
I feel like a lot of people from the UK have moved to New York City.
Fred: Yeah. I guess most people in New York aren’t from New York are they really.
That’s very true
Fred: It’s a town of stragglers and adventurers
Tom: Are you from New York?
No I’m not, I’m from Connecticut.
Fred: Which state do you think is the hardest to spell?
Hardest state to spell? Connecticut probably is.
No, you have the M-I-SS-I-SS-I-PP-I. Connect-I-Cut. That’s how I learned to spell my state.
Danny: Connect I cut. Connect I cut.
Fred: Connect you cut
Haha. So, what’s your favorite song off the new album?
Fred: Mine is…it changes all the time. “Don’t Make Me Try” is a song I really like and “All the Sad Young Men” is probably the one that I think is the best.
Danny: “Kyoto Garden,” I like and “Lately It’s You.”
Tom: “Lately It’s You” is my favorite song. “Stay High.” “Bad Boyfriend.”
Fred: Now we’re just naming songs
Yoann: “Lately It’s You” and “Using”
Jed: I really like “Decade of Decay,” I was just listening to that, and “Lately It’s You.”
Fred: Have you listened to the album?
I actually listened to it while I was at work today, it was great!
Fred: Which was your favorite song?
“Don’t Make Me Try”
So, what’s your favorite part about being a musician? Why do you guys like music?
Fred: I like performing on stage, writing and also the benefits that that brings like traveling which is fun even when we don’t leave the country. And most days not being the same; not too many similar days.
Jed: We try to get away from repetition as much as possible.
Fred: Even playing the same song in ten different days in ten different places feels like a different experience even though the song is the same
Yoann: For me probably it’s the only thing I’m good at so…
Tom: Well there’s one other thing I know of…
Yoann: Yeah, eating.
That’s a good thing to be good at! Ha, and what do you guys try to bring across with the message of Spector?
Jed: This is just maybe one thing that came to mind not necessarily unique, but… you know like when you meet people who are so desperate to convince you that they’re happy and it makes them seem more of a sad person? I think embracing sadness…it doesn’t have to be depressing.
Fred: Yeah and also you can have an existential crisis and still be happy. I guess that’s where we’re at
Jed: Like, I don’t think all our songs are actually depressing even though they can kind of be about sad things though
Fred: And the ones that sound really happy are from a less happy place than the ones that sound really sad
Jed: Kind of like celebrating all of life
Fred: Feeling feelings
I like feeling feelings, that’s what I like about music.
Fred: Yes exactly!
Anything else coming up for you guys?
Fred: We’ve just come to the end of this tour for now. We’re going to go home and have Christmas and go write and record some new music and hopefully we’ll be back on tour in January/February.
Anything last thoughts you want to share?
Fred: Thanks for having us New York. Tell your friends!
Jed: Let’s get ready to rumble!
Article: Merissa Blitz