Words: Gabrielle White / @gabrielleblanche
SPQR are known for their gutsy, striking brand of art-rock, describing their sound as “Rock music, with all the thought and feeling that comes with that name!”. Despite a global pandemic, they’ve been seriously etching their name into the scene this past couple of years. From releasing an album (‘Ribbons’) and an EP (‘Low Sun Long Shadows’) in 2020 alone, to working with grammy award winning producer Mark Rankin and setting up their very own studio this year, it seems the possibilities are limitless for the group. I was lucky enough to get a chance to chat with SPQR about their new single, ‘Fault lines’, their upcoming LP (due 2022), and all things lockdown...
Thanks for having a chat with us guys! Let’s talk about the new single ‘Fault Lines’. What’s the inspiration behind the track?
Hello! God… I started this one so long ago that I don’t even remember what the inspiration was. I just remember starting with the bassline and building it from there which is something I was doing a lot back then. It has been around for many, many years in different forms, and this is the form that found its way out! Right place, right time I suppose.
I heard this was a shelved tune from your 2019 EP ‘Low Sun Long Shadow’ – what about it made you want to pull it back up?
Well… it never got thrown away ’cause no one ever thought it was bad enough just to chuck, even though I distinctly remember on multiple occasions me saying ‘that song is going nowhere’, haha. We decided it was a good idea to put out a single earlier this year and having exhausted everything I had on the 11 new tracks of the album I suppose in a way I had to push on with this one and work to make it a song that was releasable and that everyone liked! It was a slog.
There’s definitely a lighter, arguably more pop-adjacent sound to it; very 70’s/80’s – is this something we’ll see more of in the new album?
Though absolutely no track on the album is 170 BPM, yeah I suppose so. There’s a lot more actual ‘songs’ on the album. It’s far less thrashy and far more thought out and has way more going on than anything before. There’s still some weird fuckin’ ones on there that no one will understand too though, so don’t worry.
Speaking of the album, is there anything you can tell us about it?
Yes! I can tell you that it’s eleven brand new tracks and it should be out, if all goes to plan, early-ish next year. It has a name but I don’t know whether to share that yet, just so it’s a surprise.
What’s it been like working on the record with a giant like Mark Rankin? Were you intimidated at all?
Haha, yes. But I’m intimidated by everything and everyone. Mark is the loveliest person ever, and a hero of mine, so it’s been surreal to say the absolute least. When we had our initial phone call just hearing his voice down the phone talking to me in real time was nuts. A very special moment. And the album sounds great. The mixes are incredible. It was very humbling too. Mark is a very successful person and he certainly does not NEED to be mixing tiny unsigned bands’ albums at this stage in his career, but he facilitated it and us purely because he liked it and that is truly admirable, isn’t it? Just doing something because you love it.
It’s awesome that people like Rankin still choose to support upcoming artists and new music. It certainly seems to be only big things for you this year, especially as you’ve also started your own studio, ‘Studio 27’. How does it feel to have your own place, and any advice for artists wanting to follow a similar path?
I promise that once I’ve fully ironed out all the kinks of this new studio setup I’m going to do a step-by-step, clear, easy and detailed guidebook on how to set up a Pro Tools HDX system yourself. ‘Cause it’s been absolutely awful and the guidance out there is terrible, but through sheer will I have brought it to life! The world of Setting up a studio that’s anything more than a little bedroom affair feels very elitist and I’m gonna try and offer a way to make it less that way; so more ‘normal’ people have a chance at the quality and versatility that the bigwigs get to play with!
How’ve you found the creative process during a global pandemic?
I was furloughed from a job that just sucks every iota of creativity out of me so… really good! Wouldn’t have had a chance in hell of making the album if the pandemic hadn’t happened. That’s not to discount how awful it has been either. But on that specific topic you mentioned, it’s given me lots of space and stopped the ride just in time before it fully careered off the tracks!
It sounds like lockdowns actually inspired you. So, if you don’t mind giving us a little teaser of that inspiration, what’s your favourite line from the upcoming album?
“There stood a monument to all, the Real Thing”.
SPQR certainly seem to be the real deal and nothing is slowing them down. With a whole host of tour dates scheduled for September and their unnamed album set for release next year, it’s incredible to see artists continuing to grow and thrive through unimaginably tricky years. Great art always grows out of the hardest times, and SPQR are a testament to this. Their new single ‘Fault Lines’ is available to buy and stream now.