Fred Macpherson, lead singer of Spector, admits it is hard for anyone, regardless of genre, to make it in the music business. However, after a string of semi-successes with bands Les Incompétents and Ox.Eagle.Lion.Man, it seems Fred has found his true calling with Spector, whose last album entered the charts at number 11, with an eagerly anticipated second one on the way.
He expresses his admiration for fellow band, The 1975, in the way they made it “against all odds” through excessive touring and building up a fan base from the grassroots. For Fred this is the “noble and honest” way to make it, but above all you have to be “willing to get ignored” for a long while before anything starts to happen.
Spector are first and foremost a London band. Fred talks wistfully about his hometown and the state ofits music scene. “It’s so sad walking around Soho now. The Astoria, Mean Fiddler, Metro – there are a good ten music venues in that area that have closed down in the last few years. There are only about two left – The 100 Club and Borderline.”
Conversation moves onto recently released track ‘All The Sad Young Men’, a melancholy epic complete with swirling synths and his
passionate vocals. “The tracks we have put out from the second album are bombastic in style but there are moments of calm on there too. They’re really just hints at the overall sound. The album as a whole is very colourful and expansive”.
I wonder whether the song’s downbeat tone indicated a change of direction from their party-ready indie tunes of yore. “Well ‘Chevy Thunder’ from the first album had a downbeat tone to it but I think the songs on the new album are more honest, and more self-indulgent in a way”.
He dismisses the idea of there being any overt influences, but says that he was listening to The Walkman, Drake and Pusha T around the recording of the album, and admires the lyrics of Tom Waits as well as the vocal delivery of The Blue Nile singer Paul Buchanan: “He has a certain fragility to his delivery”.
Nominated for NME ‘Villain of the Year’ and ‘Best Twitter Account’ in 2013, I cautiously question Fred on whether he felt he was perhaps a little too conspicuous in his relationship with the media around the release of the first album.
“The year we came out there weren’t many good bands about, so the press courted us. We would just say something funny or stupid. It was just PR. Everyone should stop taking themselves so seriously. You shouldn’t be reading music magazines if you take life too seriously.”
The year we came out there weren’t many good bands about, so the press courted us. We would just say something funny or stupid. It was just PR
We move onto the topic of vinyl records, Record Store Day having just taken place the weekend before. “I understand why people find [Record Store Day] a bit corporate,” Fred says. “It is a bit novel. I was away for it so I didn’t go, but hopefully the band will put out a record for it next year, get something on vinyl”. He expresses his appreciation for independent vinyl record label, Death Waltz, but laments the fact that he got into vinyl so late in life.
“Every album I buy now is on vinyl. I have a depressing number of CDs that I’d bought from HMV when I was younger. CDs will be gone in ten years. Its natural that we will end up with digital downloads and vinyl. You get the clinical sound of downloads and then on the other end of the spectrum the warmth of vinyl. And I love the artwork”.
Fred goes onto to laud Australian musician Nick Cave, especially his last album Push The Sky Away, which he describes as “his best album yet…its great to see older artists staying fresh”. Along with describing Katy Perry as “amazing” he also reveals his love of hip-hop, especially Kanye West and Drake.
It may be odd to hear the lead singer of an indie rock band profess his love of hip-hop, however Fred’s lyrical style is jam-packed with the acerbic wit and fast-paced narratives usually associated with the best in the rap game; a particular lyrical highlight from the first album was the unbearably pretentious line “A quarter-life crisis, teen Dionysus”. In a musical landscape where lyrics are underappreciated in lieu of big beats or effects-laden guitars, Spector are refreshingly experimental in their approach to composition.
As May arrives, Fred eagerly awaits the festival season. “If you stick around it’s like a holiday. If you’re playing later in the evening then you have to stay sober unfortunately, but we’re usually on in the late afternoon…it’s a good platform for our music and the people who go to festivals usually have an open attitude.”
Their first album was released amid a tornado of NME-induced hype, however the tracks recently released for the all-important sophomore album have been attracting a lot of respect, and a sense that Spector are growing into their sizeable reputation.
A standing as one of the best live bands on the UK circuit and a stream of quality indie rock songwriting should see them outlive the ‘NME curse’ of recent years that has seen the demise of far too many promising but overhyped bands (Tribes, Viva Brother, The Twang etc.).
We should be seeing Fred and co. tearing up festival stages for many years to come.