In the Middle with Spector
The Gryphon chats to lead singer Fred Macpherson of Spector about Moth Boys, Spotify and Brudenell Social Club. This four piece indie-rock band from London (coincidently named after the group of villains from James Bond) came to Leeds last Sunday as part of their most recent tour to promote their new album.
Being lucky enough to experience Spector throughout their pre-gig sound check was a rare treat. Walking into the club at 5pm the unique sound of Bad Boyfriend filled the air yet it seemed different and it soon became clear why. Throughout, the band altered their pieces to work better with a live audience, adding dramatic pauses and heady guitar solos. They clearly love playing live, when on stage during gigs Fred knows it’s the most fun thing he could be doing at that moment – “unless I was going to win the lottery… the second most fun thing”. The crowd can feel this enjoyment, the emotional epicentres of each song seem to change “sometimes you’re just singing lyrics completely mindlessly, they could be about anything like microwave meals or how you need to cancel your Amazon Prime membership but when playing live they suddenly mean more”.
It might have been three years since this band first graced our radios with Enjoy It While It Lasts but Spector have not been dormant; they have been working tirelessly, refining both their sound and style to produce an atmospheric masterpiece. Moth Boys is quite a contrast to their previous album; they’re no longer singing about growing up and being a teenager, they are focusing on experiences and what it’s like to live in your early twenties. The usual topics of failed relationships and unrequited love obviously surface however there is a heavier focus on larger problems: addiction and alienation through technology. This makes the lyrics intense and depressing yet “melodically and musically, it can stand toe for toe with a lot of the stuff that’s on the radio – something like Stay High is pure pop”.
This is a band that truly loves what they do; they understand that even with a profile like theirs, it’s very hard to make a living. Money isn’t easily generated in the music business, it’s too effortless to download songs illegally or use YouTube and Spotify – but there has been a shift. Companies like Apple are trying to create new infrastructures to help artists make money and vinyl records have burst back onto the scene. However bad it may be, piracy has been helpful for the industry, artists no longer associate music with money –“anyone that has left music because of Spotify and things like that would have to really have the wrong end of the stick to be that defensive over royalties – I’d rather someone hears the song and can connect with it emotionally”.
Fred Macpherson remains modest about their work , saying “I don’t listen to the old album much, I don’t listen to this one either because I don’t think they’re very good but I think this album is the best we could make right now”. However, every member of the crowd was enthralled by Spector’s performance of these tracks throughout the entire evening. They burst onto the stage with the iconic Never Fade Away, reminiscent of Joy Division’s Atmosphere, and provided a consistently upbeat performance of every song in their set. Brudenell Social Club is a true gem of the Leeds music scene and Spector have wanted to play at this venue for years – Fred experienced the club with one of his old bands years ago and has loved it ever since. Obviously it helps that the fans in Leeds are so supportive and create such an amazing and intense atmosphere that it almost seems surreal. The band adore the city and the fans – “Tonight I have chipped a tooth, poked myself in the eye, been groped whilst crowd surfing, changed my shirt and I wouldn’t have it any other way. We love you Leeds”.
Fans will be glad to know that they hope to record their new album next year – “we’ve started writing some stuff for it which sounds pretty good. We want it to be a bit more in the moment, more pop, more throwaway”. If Moth Boys is anything to go by, I’m sure it will be incredible.