Image by Paul Samuel White
Having already built a reputation as one of the country’s most strident and exciting new bands on the back of their debut Dying, Bristol noise rock maestros Spectres have upped the ante once more on their ambitious, disquieting new album Condition. Ahead of their UK tour, we spoke to the band’s guitarist and vocalist Joe Hatt about their new work.
Coming off the back of their remix album Dead, where artists likes Factory Floor and Blood Music radically reworked their material, I asked Hatt if the experience had influenced the band whilst working on Condition. “It was incredible working with some of our heroes and favourite artists, and for a band of our size to have managed to put something like Dead out still seems very audacious. I think initially we thought it would shape Condition more than it actually did, when it came to writing this album we realised there was plenty more we wanted to do with our guitars before we bring drum machines and broken Korgs to the mix. We are looking forward to that day though.”
Certainly, even the most cursory listen to Condition will reveal an album full of surprising, innovative arrangements with few real comparisons right now. Talking about how they structure their material, Hatt explains, “it is very improvised. When Adrian just suddenly started emitting that noise [on Colour Me Out], the rest of us started doing whatever felt natural over it and we just locked in. We played that live for the first time recently and there is still space for us to improvise within it which is always where the real fun happens, for us anyway: I think we extended the end by about five minutes.”
As Hatt notes though, their open attitude towards improvisation and chance doesn’t mean that they aren’t serious and thoughtful about their work. “I guess the album is the chance for us to prove that we aren’t just an ‘all pedals on all at once and hope for the best’ band, we do spend a lot of time writing our songs, and I think this album hopefully highlights that.”
Their unusual way of work and the art it produces also makes the band something of an outlier between circuits. “Someone like Pharmakon can propel more ideas, emotion and bile in three minutes than most guitar bands pedal out over five albums. In terms of the band, I think we belong in that ‘scene’ a lot more that we do in the psych rock or shoegaze scene we kind of have to moonlight in to get shows. I think maybe because of our extra-curricular activities with the music industry, whilst also ironically not wanting to play in front of ten people all our lives, we will never be taken seriously as an experimental band. We are adrift between two islands where we don’t belong. I recently had someone I’d never met before shout at me in a pub for half an hour about how he hated everything about the band, and that we were regarded as the Coldplay of the Bristol Noise Scene to the real noiso’s. I enjoyed this, because I knew I could use it in interviews for at least a year.”
Spectres play The Museum Vaults on Sunday 23rd April. Condition is out now on Sonic Cathedral.