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"Does your timeline make you tired?" - An Interview w/ Spector looking at their best ever lyrics!
London-based Spector have been riding at the top of the Indie game for over 10 years now. Ever since their debut album 'Enjoy It While It Lasts' took off with hits like 'Chevy Thunder' and 'Celestine' they have become renowned for their delicate Indie/Electro balance and countless melancholic anthems. However, one thing that has always set them apart from the crowd and earned them a cult following is the honesty, wit and romance of their lyrics. From off-hand one liners and clever metaphors to strong emotional vulnerability their words simultaneously capture the raw unfiltered essence of every day life and romanticize them to a stunning degree. Following the release of their 3rd (or 4th depending on which side of the fan debate you lie) album 'Now or Whenever' we caught up with lead-singer and songwriter Frederick Macpherson to look back through some of their most poignant and impressive lyrics over the years.
Chevy Thunder - "Give me a minute while I fix my tie, give me a minute while I take my life"
This was a pretty bold and in-your-face sentiment to plant in the first few lines of your debut single! Did you ever feel an element of risk writing such raw lyrics so early on?
"No, at that point I was probably less self-conscious about lyrics because I didn't think anyone would really be listening to them. I definitely didn't think about that line in the context of it being our first single on a big label etc. I was more worried about whether I should be singing about an American car at all. But I'm glad it's there because those kind of lines set a good foundation for where we were going, mixing intense emotional stuff with super light hearted dumb stuff lol".
All The Sad Young Men - "It's all meaningless now as it was meaningless then. All the miserable girls, all the sad young men"
The Moth Boys record is full of dark lyrics and they feel more personal on that record too. Is that how you were feeling at the time?
"Moth Boys was a funny one, because I think there was this sense we hadn't quite fulfilled our commercial expectations the first time round, which is quite lucky in a way - because if EIWIL had been a complete smash hit we'd have probably never ended up writing a song like 'All the Sad Young Men' which is probably my favourite thing we've done. I think that's how I was feeling at the time, or maybe I just felt more ready to sing it. I guess everyone goes through phases of thinking everything's meaningless, but it's funny in a way that our most emotional song is written from such a cynical perspective".
Bad Boyfriend - "Baby if you're lonely now just wait till we're alone"
This track is incredibly self-depricating. Do you ever feel vulnerable putting out such self critical lyrical content?
"Not really, but probably mainly because lines like that are cushioned by so many jokey lines and stupid puns/wordplay etc. Maybe if we were huge pop stars it would feel more vulnerable because people would be wondering how the lyrics related to our lives, but generally people come to our gig screaming words like that and are throwing pints five minutes later. Maybe writing vulnerability but not feeling it is a toxic trait we're promoting lol".
Untitled in D - "Does your timeline make you tired? Has your young person's railcard expired? Let's go somewhere in real life, Switch on your out of office auto reply"
These lyrics feel a lot more real and relatable than, say, the dramatized storyline of 'Chevy Thunder'. Do you actively aim to make your lyrics relatable or are they just a reflection of your own day to day life?
"I wouldn't say I'm preoccupied with being relatable, but I want to make sure our lyrics sounds like they're from a certain time, especially because a lot of the production and arrangement is a little retro. On the new album I veered away from what people sometimes refer to as "social commentary" as it seems like there's so much of this kitchen sink 'day in the life of an english bloke' thing going on atm. I wanted to try and bring back a bit of the more evocative imagery of our early stuff that wasn't always super literal".
American Warehouse In London & Do You Wanna Drive - "midlands summer night dream"
Does art and literature influence your songwriting and lyricism a lot?
"Film influences me more directly than literature or visual art because that's the medium I consume the most of. I've almost definitely seen more films than I've heard albums. I do read quite a lot, but not much poetry, so I don't know where the wordplay comes from. I just feel like as a lyricist you have to go beyond rhyming, bending and breaking words and phrases in ways that then open up new paths. Now or Whenever was a bit of a different writing process to what's come before because I kind of let the words write themselves, from line to line, without necessarily thinking about overall meaning. This isn't always successful but I think American Warehouse is our best stream of consciousness song and says a lot without really saying much".
D-Roy - "Existing is exhausting. Everybody says we should be talking"
Can you explain a little about the lyrics behind D-Roy?
"Jed wrote the first draft then I wrote the second draft kind of re-interpreting where I think he was coming from. It's about friendships, and how their breakdown can be as upsetting as the end of romantic relationships, or even more romantic in fact. I think repression (of men especially) stops us from admitting that a lot. Friendships are real relationships too, whether you're sleeping with someone or not".
Do you have any favourite lyrics off the new album? "Mcdonalds on the dashboard / Horizon in our eyes" (Do You Wanna Drive) is a nice description of a memory everyone's experienced. I also really like "mummify me baby, wrap me up like a king" (Norwegian Air) because it's kind of psychedelic and felt great to sing. And all of Bad Summer and American Warehouse.
How closely invested do you feel when performing your lyrics live? Do you feel emotional hearing such personal and vulnerable lyrics being sang back or is it almost surreal? "During a performance you don't necessarily have time to think about that as you're just trying to make sure people have a good time. Now some of these songs are ten years old I barely think about what the words mean at all. But that's because we're lucky enough to have an audience who usually imbue them with so much meaning it's kind of like watching a performance from the stage rather than on it. That's what's surreal. It doesn't matter how it feels to us, we're just responding to how it makes other people feel". Which tracks are you most looking forward to playing live on tour and why? "American Warehouse will be fun to play cos we don't have many of those songs with, I don't want to say "jams" but you know long instrumental passages. I also think Catch You on the Way Back In is the type of song that was written to play live, and after the last few years will probably feel the most cathartic". Do you have any unreleased lyrics that you can share with us? "I've been saving the world from your recommendations / Making origami out of invitations" is the opening line to a new song lol".
Head to https://www.spector.co.uk/ to book tickets to their current tour, order their new album or just to hear the melancholic rainfall (you'll understand when you visit their site!)