Saviours of indie rock are rolling into Sheffield

Spector.  Photo: Bella Howard

Spector. Photo: Bella Howard

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Spector are a band tipped for major things with frontman Fred Macpherson earning comparison to Jarvis Cocker. Mark Butler spoke to him.

It can’t be easy dealing with the pressure when you’re tipped as the breakthrough band of the year. And the tidal wave of hype behind Spector is only growing.

They’ve rubbed shoulders with Bjork and the Red Hot Chili Peppers on Later... With Jools Holland, they featured prominently in the BBC’s Sound Of 2012 poll, and pundits are even hailing them as the ‘saviours of indie rock’.

Singer Fred Macpherson winces when this is raised.

“I feel a bit bored by the hype now,” he admits. “There’s always so much noise about who’s going to be the next big thing before anyone’s even heard the album. Being hyped doesn’t mean the music’s going to be any better. But I know our album is good. We’ve made the best album we could make, that’s good enough for me. Anything else is a bonus.”. He’s in reasonable spirits: but the rain has slightly impacted upon his sense of optimism.

“I like grey weather generally,” he muses. “It’s only when it’s paired with debilitating costs that I realise England might not be the Jerusalem I thought.”

Perhaps best-described as the missing link between Roxy Music and The Killers, Spector are a dab hand at producing infectious dance-ready anthems and epic ballads, combining slick rhythms and emotive, uplifting melodies.

Added to this is the immense live presence of Macpherson, who peppers the London band’s shows with surreal banter between songs. When they packed out Leeds’s O2 Academy in May, he earnestly pronounced: “If anyone should perish in the mosh-pit – make sure you bury them in consecrated ground.”

He’s earnt comparisons with legendary Pulp singer Jarvis Cocker. “I’m not too cool with that,” he says, slightly alarmed by the suggestion. “I don’t think I’ve an ounce of his wit and intellect, and I’m nowhere near that talented. He’s such a cultural icon. I don’t think you can live up to that.

“We’re not particularly rock and roll I regret to say, we’re a band full of neuroses,” says Macpherson. “The reason I talk to people in the crowd at gigs is because I feel awkward between songs. When everyone stops cheering and we’re sorting out instruments, I need to fill that silence.

“It comes from wanting to make contact with the crowd.”

Spector have built up a loyal following, and have toured extensively – a process Macpherson describes as “psychologically damaging”.

“You either enter this netherworld of alcoholism and sexual deviance, or sink yourself into the mundane: like the motorway services that punctuate the long trips between shows.

“But we’ve had shows that remind you why you do this in the first place. Sheffield was spectacular. When it goes well, there’s nothing better.”

The five-piece are back in the steel city tonight – the home town of drummer Danny Blandy – where they are set to be one of the highlights of the hugely-popular Tramlines Festival.

Further Yorkshire engagements await later this summer too, with an appearance on the NME/Radio 1 stage at Leeds Festival in August.

“It’s going to be crazy, and a chance to really show what we can do,” says Macpherson. “Hopefully people will be up for getting a bit lairy.

“We love playing in the North, and Northern crowds really are better. They worry less about acting cool and they just want to drink and have a good time. Yorkshire gigs are always highs.”

In the meantime, Spector are hoping to justify the hype with the release of their debut album Enjoy It While It Lasts – a record that Macpherson describes as an optimistic, feel-good affair.

“It’s about focusing on the positive times in life, and that’s the spirit that runs through the entire album. Life is full of bleak grey days and long dark nights that can really get to you, but it’s also punctuated by brilliant moments and the spirit of adventure. With all our songs it’s saying ‘enjoy the good times’.”

Despite Macpherson’s insistence that the band lack a sense of rock and roll nihilism, the album title arguably hints at a desire to burn out, rather than risk fading away.

“I don’t think anyone should aim to burn out,” says the singer. “But if we do, I hope that we do so in spectacular fashion.”

Tramlines on track to attract record audiences

In just a few short years, Tramlines has found itself a major musical festival.

The free festival this year will feature more than 70 venues playing host to bands over three days and expected audiences of more than last year’s 150,000. The festival, opening tonight and running until Sunday, will host acts including Roots Manuva, We Are Scientists, Beth Jeans, Reverend and the Makers.

Spector play Tramlines Festival in Sheffield tonight, and Leeds Festival on Saturday August 25. Enjoy It While It Lasts is released on 
August 13. www.tramlines.org. uk

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