Manchester band Spring King became one of the hottest acts in the country off of the back of Zane Lowe playing their song “City” as the first ever track on Beats 1 back in June of last year. Since then they’ve been touring pretty much non-stop and we managed to catch up with them before their recent show at Concorde 2 in Brighton (October 27th). Here’s what Tarek, James, Pete and Andy had to say.
Hi guys, how are you doing?
Tarek Musa (Vocals/Drums): We’re in Brighton today, it’s nice here, I like Brighton, we’ve played a few times at The Great Escape and that’s always a pleasure, it’s nice to be back.
The top result for Spring King on Google describes you as: “a small-scale, art-pop-punk project based in Manchester”. What would you describe yourselves as?
James Green (Bass): We always used to get called art-punk or art-pop
Pete Darlington (Guitar): I don’t even know what art-punk is.
Andy Morton (Guitar): I think like for me I think some of the early recordings are a bit more art-punk, but I wouldn’t have described us as an art-punk band, I think that stuff to me just, I don’t know, it’s kind of a bit more left field than where we currently are now, like a punk rock band, we’re more of a straight band, at least the album material, it’s just a bit straighter than it was in the past, but also, and I know we’ve been talking about like new music, there’s so many different ways that we can go because we all have such varied tastes. We have a lot to offer that we feel people haven’t had a chance to see yet.
James: I’ll just say we’re fast and loud, that’s the way I normally describe it.
What are the differences for you as a band when you’re playing a headline gig versus a festival?
Tarek: festivals are normally like half an hour, unless you’re headlining, I don’t know, the crowd can be a bit different, sometimes its people who are there for you, sometimes it’s just people who are there on a whim, or people that have heard about you that want to check you out. I feel like you know playing at a venue or playing a show is always going to be your fans, mostly, or people who have heard the songs at least before they’ve come down, it’s a different atmosphere.
Can you think of the worst gig you’ve ever played?
James: We did a gig to one person in Nottingham at Stealth, whilst there was a club night going on in the same complex so you could hear the club night whilst we were playing and, yeah, lots of bad things happened.
Andy: The actual stage seemed OK, but when the night began we realised that we were in like a complete nightmare. When all the people started turning up for the club night it started to get a bit of a surreal feeling about it…
James: Someone was really racist when we were loading out and then someone vomited basically on our gear and then also we were parking the transit after loading out when a tram came. It was pretty bad, but equally part of the same complex is a venue called Rescue Rooms which we did with Courtney Barnett and we were going to do on this tour but we had to cancel it because of illness, the rest of the thing is like really nice, it just so happens that the first time we did a gig there was diabolical.
Do you ever get on each other’s nerves? You’re touring constantly, that must be pretty intense.
Pete: We don’t speak to each other quite a lot of the time. Just so that when we’re sat in the van we will just like be quiet for literally like 6 hours, then when we get out of the van we go ‘how’s it going?’
Andy: I think we occasionally piss each other off but like not in a crazy way, like it would happen with anybody that spent that amount of time together, just little things occasionally…
You’re not getting in separate private jets to shows yet then?
James: I mean if we had the money… [Laughs]
What is your daily schedule, how do you stay on form and not turn up like a zombie?
Tarek: Well we’re very like placid for most of the day I think, like we just kind of sit in the van, listen to our music, read our own books, sometimes play computer games or have a chat, if we’re up for a laugh we’ll have a laugh, but most of the time it’s quite relaxed and laid back. I’ll wake up and I might say ‘morning’ to Pete, but it’s like we both know we’re awake and we are going to be together for the whole day so there’s no point me going ‘how did you sleep?’ ‘What did you dream about?’
Pete: It’s a little bit like marriage, like a 10 year marriage!
Tarek: Just conserving words until they are needed. But then we get on stage it’s like this other side of our personality comes out, we’ve got to put on a show. I think that there is a new wave of bands that are coming out who are just like people who just want to play music and they don’t care about living up to the getting really fucked up, and all that stuff. We all take vitamin B12 and shit and like…
Pete: I can show you my supplements in a bit, where the magic happens…
Andy: For me there is nothing worse than getting on stage after all the effort it takes to get to that stage and just feeling horrible, so I just really really try to kind of keep myself in check, obviously occasionally you go off the rails a little bit, but not really that much, because to get to a show is not just the actual travelling for that day, it’s all the booking that gets involved, it’s all the conversations about it, it’s all the rehearsals, it’s like so much work.
Do you have a favourite city to play in?
Pete: Bristol is one of those cities for me.
Andy: Manchester is fantastic.
James: I always think Glasgow.
Pete: Glasgow always man, Glasgow is mad. I think cities have different flavours as well as how you think the crowd will be, especially certain venues as well you just know by the venue or by the place that you are in whether it’s going to be good or not and what sort of crowd it’s going to be because of previous appearances. So I think that’s quite interesting actually, I have ever really thought about that.
Tarek: Leeds is getting rowdier.
James: The only reason I don’t like Leeds is because they do the like ‘Yorkshire! Yorkshire!’ chanting, I don’t get it.
Andy: Last night people were chanting about how lovely we were.
James: Which was borderline embarrassing; it was really nice, thank you.
Andy: It was just kind of like a whispery ‘James, James’. [Laughs]
Which do you prefer? The hatred or the whispering?
James: I quite like the ‘You’re shit!’ to be honest, it’s easier to take because I just can literally be like well you’re all cunts, so fuck you all, I can’t call people who do it a nice way anything, other than maybe say thank you.
You’ve said in the past that you try to write and record a song a day, how do you cut all of that down into one album or one setlist?
Tarek: Well you pick some songs, but then you end up being like ‘well I wrote those songs a month ago now and I am bored so let’s write some new ones.’ A lot of songs on the album, we went to the studio and wrote them, we wrote Rectifier in the studio, wrote Take me Away in the studio.
James: There’s one old tune that I really really want to start doing live called Potion, if the world only knew…
Tarek: We used to play a song called Vampire a lot live and we kind of stopped for the past few shows and last night some guy was like ‘play Vampire tonight!’ and it’s like a tune you would only know if you really dug deep in to the Spring King vaults. It’s a weird tune and in some ways we love playing it live, but then you play this amazing set and like you end on Rectifier and everyone’s like ‘that was an amazing night’ or you could play a tune called vampire and half them are like ‘what is this?’
Andy: I think that there is a joy to be had about perfecting the sound, about how it should be in the moment as well, because I think it’s taken us a while to get this set list that we’re happy with, I think it’s kind of a show, we want it to have its ups and downs, I don’t really want to just throw things in there because it would upset the feeling. It’s taken us a while to get to what we want at the moment…and it’s still shit. [Laughs]
What’s the best thing the South could bring to the North and the North to the South?
Pete: The north could introduce overground trams to London and destroy the underground, because I hate the underground.
James: I think the North could bring like manners and nice people to the South. To be honest the only issue would be that you’d have loads of really abrasive but polite southerners, with little Scouse accents.
Andy: I like the countryside of the north, the hills, I like a lot of that stuff, when I get the chance to go back that’s the stuff I really enjoy, that’s what a lot of people would like. You’ve got the beach and everything here which is cool, but just to go to a forest….
Tarek: Bring patience to the South as well, everyone is rushing around all the time, I’ve seen people like go ‘For fucks sake!’ on the tube because they’ve missed the fucking train and they’re like every 2 minutes. Obviously that’s quite rare, we’re talking extremities here.
Spring King seem to play a different city every single day, and they’re well worth seeing if you get the chance. Plus they always manage to book an incredibly good support line-up (special mention to Get Inuit and Kagoule at the Brighton show), so you really can’t go wrong.