Wednesday, 2 November 2011

We're Only Here For The Banter - Spook School

Edinburgh four piece The Spook School have only been gracing us with their collective presence for less than one year. And yet I've been wanting to feature them on the blog since I first heard 'History' back in June. The fact that it's still one of my favourite songs of the year is testament to how good they are. But enough of the gushing praise, it's very unbecoming of me. The Spook School have a c-86, distorted twee pop sound, and have been steadily playing gigs across the central belt for the last couple of months now. Check out what Adam from the band had to say.

Hello, how are you?

I'm fine thank you. How are you? That's what you're supposed to say isn't it? It's not true though. I'm not fine at all. I've been sitting eating grapefruit segments out of a can whilst watching YouTube videos for 3 hours. It's not a good state of affairs.

Tell us a little bit about your music and influences.

We make simple indie-pop rock 'n roll music. Partly 'cause that's what we're in to and partly 'cause none of us can really play guitar. I think we sound a bit like if Buzzcocks were girls who lived by the seaside and were scared of talking to strangers. Suppose Shop Assistants, Television Personalities and that kind of stuff has quite an influence, but most of the time we're just trying to be David Bowie or Marc Bolan and failing. Lyrical themes tend to include cross-dressing, miscellaneous confectionery and the banality of conformity (that sounds like a really shit album title!). I always feel a bit out of my depth with these 'describe your music/influences' questions.

Scotland has a thriving music scene. How do you find being a part of that?

When we first started playing together and putting our stuff out there I kind of expected the 'music scene' folk to be a bit clique-ish and turn their noses up at us as some kind clueless group of amateurs. If anything we've found it to be the complete opposite. Everyone we've come into contact with has been really nice and friendly and helpful and brilliant. If it wasn't for the opportunities we've been offered by other bands and bloggers and studios and venues I think we'd still be pissing about making noise underneath a vegetarian café (if it hadn't gone bankrupt).

Which Scottish artists would you recommend to the Scottish Fiction readers?

Oooh. There's too many. I've been listening to Bubblegum Lemonade a lot recently. He's brilliant (and we're playing before him at Glasgow Popfest. Eeek!). In general we've been introduced to quite a few really good bands we'd never heard of before as a result of being part of it all. Was very impressed with Edinburgh School for the Deaf when we played with them, and we're good friends with Be Like Pablo and Thank You So Nice. They're wonderful. I could go on for ages. There are so many great bands in Scotland at the moment. We've really picked a very busy playing field to go in to, but it's a very fun playing field. It's got swings and roundabouts and everything.

What is your songwriting process like?

It's all quite intuitive I guess. We know nothing about the theory or rules about song-writing, but I think it's better that way. Can't imagine The Velvet Underground ever sat round a table going “Lets write a song in 4/4 in the key of E that modulates in the third trimester” or whatever. Generally Naomi or I will have some chords and/or a cool riff with lyrics in a half-baked state. Then we'll try and play it with the whole band and see how it sounds. We're still making changes to songs we wrote over a year ago, so it can take a while to produce something that sounds remarkably simple (if you're us). But I think that's partly because we're learning so much at the moment.

You recently made your Glasgow debut at The Captain's Rest for Ayetunes Presents. How was the 'weegie' experience?

It was really cool. One of those experiences that makes you think “we're kind of almost actually a proper band”. Yeah, it was good. In fact I wrote one of our very non-regular blog posts about it here (

What could we expect to see/hear from your live shows?

Lots of noisy jingly-jangly guitars, Matt Damon abuse, some reverby ukulele stuff, stupid dancing and Niall’s chest. You can expect to have a lot of fun. At least we hope so. We always do.

I'm sooking up here, but 'History' is one of my favourite tracks of 2011 so far. Are there plans afoot for more releases?

Hahaha, thanks. We’re both honoured and slightly baffled. I'd really like to have more recordings, we're just kind of figuring it out how to do it so it'll sound half decent. I guess we don't spend as much time on it as we should. I for one seem to spend most of my time eating tinned fruit. If we had the cash, we'd be back in the studio quick as a flash. As it is we're currently trying out alternatives. You get all these people going “Young people can write and record whole albums without even leaving their bedrooms these days!” but these young people they talk about must be a lot more clever than us. We went round and did some 'as-live' recording with Nora at Henry's Cellar Bar a couple of weeks ago. So depending on how that sounds in the end, we might let folk have a little listen to it.

What does the rest of 2011 hold for you?

We've got a couple of gigs at the Wee Red Bar coming up that I think are going to be ace, then Glasgow Popfest which we've been excited about for months now.

Other than that I don't know really. Parties? Cakes? I imagine the government will continue to fuck people over, so we'll have to distract ourselves somehow. I'm thinking about building a scale model of the Taj Mahal out of spagetti. It will be quite tricky as there are lots of curved edges.

I might be presumptious here, but as you name check John Cleese in 'History', what's your favourite Monty Python sketch?

Think Anna's probably the biggest Python fan, so I'm perhaps the wrong person to ask about this. Although me and Naomi grew up in the village where Holy Grail was filmed, so have something of an affinity with that film. I really like their defence against fruit sketch, although clearly learned nothing from it given the current tinned fruit situation. Don't think John Cleese is my favourite though. I like Eric Idle. He has nice hair. Or at least did have.

What's been your biggest achievement so far?

Hmm... I think just people from proper bands and blogs and stuff saying they like what we're doing. I never expected that to happen. Getting asked to play Edinburgh Oxjam and Glasgow Popfest's quite an honour too. There was one gig that me and Niall played in dresses. That was quite an achievement I think.

Thanks for speaking with us, would you care to share a joke with us?

I would definitely care! I like this Tim Vine one:

"So I rang up a local building firm, I said 'I want a skip outside my house.' He said 'I'm not stopping you.' “

I like any skipping based joke really.


Direct yourself in a most direct way towards The Spook School's website, Facebook, Twitter, Soundcloud and Bandcamp. Phew that's a lot of stuff. Worth it though. 

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