"Our first album was quite disjointed, this is way more consistent" - Spector open up about the making of Moth Boys
As they release their second album Moth Boys, we caught up Spector frontman Fred Macpherson to chat about the band’s strange journey to releasing their sophomore LP...
Your new album’s out today! Have you been waiting a while to release it?
“We’ve had it finished since the end of last year, but it’s basically taken two years. We thought we’d finished it at the end of 2013 and it was ready to go, but then we realised we weren’t going to be able to get the album out for ages and so we kept writing and that’s actually where some of the best tracks on the album came from. It was quite a weird journey…”
Did you end up with a lot of songs to choose from for this album?
“We wound up with 20, 25 songs, but it probably took us that long to figure out what this album was about, so there was always going to be plenty of trial and error.”
Was it frustrating that it took so long to get the album done? Your debut album came out back in 2012...
"No, because we really enjoyed the process of getting there. Had we recorded it, finished the songs and then had to wait and wait for it to come out then that would have been irritating. But it really took us a long time to figure out what kind of album we wanted to make, we could have easily put an album out in 2013 and in 2014, but it wouldn't have nearly as good as this one, it would have been quite ramshackle. Our first album was quite disjointed, this album took longer, but it's way more consistent."
Was that what you were looking for? More of a cohesive record?
"I think there were quite a few things we were looking for. We wanted to make something slightly slower and less bombastic. We wanted production that suited the songs, not just big production on every track, I think it's slightly less fun in places, but it's still got a sense of humour. It's a joyful listen, well maybe not joyful, but cheerful."
Are the influences different on this album?
"The first album was a bit like a tribute to the music we'd listened to growing up, a real throwback to epic indie rock, The Killers, King Of Leon, The Walkmen, emotional American indie bands, this album is a lot more European, we'd been listening to The Blue Nile a lot and 80s pop, but also artists like Drake, real honest lyricists. It's a lot less rollicking and raucous than the first album."
You're a four-piece now after your guitarist Christopher Burman left, has that had any effect on your sound at all?
"It's made us more focused. We've developed into a less guitar-heavy band and it's meant we didn't have a second guitarist sat there in the studio wondering when they'd be needed. We make way more sense as a four, when I write songs now I really struggle to think of the need for a second guitar part. Our first album was such a tribute to the great indie bands that we thought two guitars was a must. But I've actually realised that a lot of my favourite bands have one guitar and a guitarist with a lot of character, I think if we had a second guitarist now they'd mainly just be hanging around."
What kind of album is this lyrically? How do you think you've grown as a writer?
"I've learned to appreciate honesty and how important it is. There are one of good one liners on the first album, but this has a lot more style, last time out I wanted every song to have a couple of killer lines, whereas this time everything is a lot more purposeful and thought through. We've started take lyrics a lot more seriously, we were a lot more critical of everything this time."
It's quite a melancholy record lyrically, at least it feels like that when you listen to it...
"They do come across that way, but there's a lot of humour behind them. We've been trying to make classic pop songs, but use lyrics that kind of subvert that, to talk about alienation and include lyrics that involve far less male-led looks at sexuality."
How are lyrics for you? Are you writing all the time or do you have to sit down and force yourself to concentrate on them?
"I write them all the time, mainly it's when I'm not at home, I've got loads of notes on my phone, whether it's stuff I've thought of on the tube or what people say in conversation. What I find quite a lot is if I hear someone or I'm in a conversation with someone and they're trying to be funny then they quite often come sounding like lyrics. I'll find them in things I read, I'll take half a line from a book and half a line from something someone said in real life. Generally when I'm not trying is the best time. You do have to keep the lyrics constant though, I try and do it every day, it needs to be a conversation in your head that's constant."
So from all those words, why did you settle on Moth Boys for the title of the record?
"It's a title I've had for years actually and I've always really liked it. It's now a line from the last track on the album which is called 'Lately It's You', but the idea behind is one I've had since I was a teenager. It's this idea of this gang of characters who are like moths, it's a weird species, they can be destroyed so easily and they're so inconsequential that there's a real sadness and beauty to their lives. It ties all the lyrics and the songs together really well."