Interview: Spector

Interview with Spector



As indie-pop outfit Spector prepare to unveil their debut album, we grabbed front man Fred Macpherson for a chat about “Magic FM rock”, near-death experiences and getting distracted by hats.

Questions and answers

Hi Fred, what are you up to today?

I just went on the Emirates cable car on the Thames. It was a bit too hot actually. And at one point it stopped and jerked and I thought, “This might be my final moment on this earth, and I never got to experience that 7digital interview ...”

Nice. So you’re playing a lot of festivals at the moment, aren’t you? How’s the tour going?

Good! Long... Every time you think you can see the sun over the horizon, you get to the horizon and realise you’ve got to go back to Sheffield. Or Kendal. Or Spain. Or Sweden. But every new city’s charming.

What’s the best festival you’ve played so far?

Benicassim was really fun. We had a really positive response and everyone seemed to know the songs. We ended up sleeping on the floor of our portacabin waiting for our tour manager to come pick us up at 5.30am, feeling a little worse for wear.

And we also went to Denmark and we were told that if we didn’t play for an hour, our fee would be cut. And we’ve never played for longer than 45 minutes so we had to work out how to add 15 minutes to the set, which was quite fun...

Do you get much chance to check out the other performers at the festivals you play?

We saw David Guetta. That was intense. (Laughs) We’ve seen some good bands though. We’ve seen Kasabian play a lot of festivals and we watched a bit of New Order on Ian Curtis’ birthday, so they played ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’. Jack White played when we were in Denmark but we didn’t go because we got distracted by a selection of hats.

What are the best and worst things about touring for you?

Being away from home the whole time, but it sometimes hits on the feeling of adventure which is more than staying your bedroom, watching re-runs of Eastenders does, which is what I’ve been doing when I’m at home. It’s kind of one of those “The grass is always greener on the other side” things, as Travis put it so well. The worst thing about being on tour is wanting to be at home but the best thing about being on tour is not being at home.

So congratulations on Enjoy It While It Lasts. Are you nervous about what the critics are going to make of it?

No, I’m excited and I want people to hear it. I mean, if it’s a journalist whose opinion I respect, I’d probably ask them what they thought of it anyway but it’s not going to affect the music I make. But it’s always interesting to hear other people’s opinions.

How long did the album take to write and record?

It took longer to record than it did to write. Actually, maybe that’s not true. But bits of it came out over a few years and then it took about six months to record, which is was much longer than expected. But that’s just because we went on a journey into sound... And then back out the other side.

What were your musical reference points for the album?

Pop music, I guess. Everything from Magic FM to indie-rock between the years of 2001-2006, 80s synth-pop bands, Roxy Music, Frank Sinatra and The Rat Pack. And bits of new-wave and post-punk too, I guess.

What’s the story behind the title?

I saw it on a poster somewhere and it just dawned on me that that was a great way of describing the theme that runs through a lot of the lyrics on the album. It’s about making the most of things and lost love and nostalgia and social monotony, so that’s kind of the entire message of the album: while it’s there, enjoy it, or you’ll spend your whole life regretting it.

So you worked with seven producers, right? Why?

Six or seven, I lost count at some point. And at the same time, the record label lost count of the bill... We wrote a list of people we wanted to work with, and then more and more people showed an interest in working with us, and we realised we wanted to take different songs in different directions, so it seemed like a great idea to work with loads of different people. And I actually think it suited the songs because it’s almost like a compilation.

Like a greatest hits?

Absolutely. Greatest misses.

How was it working with Trevor Horn in particular?

Amazing, he’s a big inspiration. And he has the sort of voice that everyone listens to. Whereas most recording sessions are just arguments. It was great to hear him talk about the history of music, and his experiences in pop. None of which I can remember now.

I think he just amplified what we were doing; I don’t mean physically, I mean metaphorically. When I wrote ‘Celestine’ and ‘Friday Night, Don’t Ever Let It End’, I didn’t want them to sound like indie music. I wanted them to sound massive – almost to a ridiculous extent, like Magic FM rock. And I think he brought the bombast to them.

What’s your favourite track on the album?

One called ‘No Adventure’, which is where it gets quite soulful, with some backing vocalists. A lot of the songs take a single feeling or idea and work with that, but on that one I poured a load of my own emotion into it and I enjoy listening to it because it helps me deal with certain situations in life.

Prior to Spector you were in Les Incompetents and Ox.Eagle.Lion.Man. Why do you think Spector are enjoying more success?

We make commercial music that people can sing along to. I can see why nobody was really that into Ox.Eagle.Lion.Man; a lot of the songs are seven minutes long about things like bringing up children in forests... (Laughs) Whereas Spector are more honest and more fun; it’s kind of like party music, to a certain extent.

You used to also be a presenter for MTV2. Who was the best person you interviewed?

Probably Daniel Kessler from Interpol, which was the second ever interview I did. I was a massive Interpol fan growing up and he was really insightful. MGMT were good; they had psychedelic minds. There were some bad ones but I won’t name them. The toughest bands to deal with were those who had an inflated idea of themselves.

Does seeing behaviour like that help keep you grounded?

No, it helps me become more obnoxious than I am in most interviews.

Have you got any plans to revive your TV career at all?

Only when my music career fails. TV’s easy; so easy it’s almost stupid. You just have to say what someone’s already told you to say, or you have a conversation on air. I don’t think it’s really much of an art so I don’t plan on getting back into it.

But what if it was light entertainment, like a quiz show?

That would be good. I believe in entertainment. I’d like a Vegas show where I could work on the music and chat. Or I could bring back ‘The Generation Game’. I could be the new Jim Davidson...

Right... So what’s been the highlight so far?

Going to America to play Coachella, it was a complete honour and I never thought it would happen.

And what would you like to achieve ultimately?

Inner contentment and happiness.

And finally, aside from Enjoy it While It Lasts, what’s the best record released so far this year?

Frank Ocean’s. It’s an obvious one to say but he just writes better, more interesting and more heartfelt songs than anyone else. It’s definitely the most real thing I’ve heard this year. What other good albums are there? I don’t know... There’s some good albums coming out this month, though...