Friday, March 23, 2007

Mini-Interview: The Spires

There are no White Stripes-style “Are they or aren’t they?” questions surrounding Ventura-based melancholy pop duo, The Spires. They’re married and proud of it… And, perhaps more important to the listener, they’re also really rather good and play in LA fairly often

We spoke with them on the verge of several local performances in the area about their past, present, and future.

Hi, you two. How are you doing today?

Tired, but always happy to talk to you, Joe.

So, how long have you been married? How did you meet?

We have been married for six years - a shock how quickly it's gone by. We actually met quite awhile before that - Jason was my brother's friend as teenagers. I first met him one night when my parents were out of town - my brother was throwing something of an illicit party and I came home from work (before my brother or anyone else got there) to find Jason standing on our porch smoking cigarettes.

I asked him if he wanted to come inside to wait for everyone else and - believe it or not - he turned me down! Not exactly love at first sight, I guess.

How did you decide to start playing music together?

I don't think I decided anything - we were driving home from a friend's house one night and Jason told me I should take drum lessons so he would have a drummer to play with - the next day he called the drum teacher at the local music store and I started the next week. A couple months later I got a drum set and we started playing in our living room (very quietly).

So, Jason, you’d never sang or played guitar and, Colleen, you’d never played drums. I’m guessing you were a little nervous for your first few shows.

Terrified - we only played once before we recorded the first record (Amplifier) and it was god awful - a train wreck. Colleen forgot to tighten the lugs on her drum and it fell over mid-set - adding to the chaos.

Who are your influences? What were you shooting for when you started playing? And how has that changed?

I don't know if I have any influences in the traditional sense - I have more sounds that I hear (which could really be from anything) and I want to follow them to their conclusion of being played and recorded.

Now, I think we try to straddle that kind of naiveté that you have when you first start - which I think is important - with trying to keep it interesting for us and trying new sounds. The Spires are built low to the ground and sturdy for the long haul, not for speed. I think you have to take a band on its own terms as far as its evolution and not compare it to others too much.

How did your first EP come together? Who did you record it with?

We had no intention of actually recording it - Jason called his friend Dave Bassett one day (who has a studio in his house - Chateaux Relaxeau) and on a lark asked him when he would record us (since this is Dave's job we didn't actually expect him to have any time for us).

Much to our surprise, he had two days available the following week. So we thought: We better learn how to play these songs! Sadly, that recording cost us our Honda which exploded under the weight of our equipment on a hot July day in the Valley.

How were your album and new EP Sky Sky different?

The LP for us was different from Amplifier in that we have played most of the songs out live before we recorded them. I think there are some good songs on there but I think we lost the thread there somewhere in the middle due to circumstances outside the studio - it took a long time to finish the record and by the time it was done we had kind of moved on mentally and musically - most of the songs on it didn't really get played out again once the record was done.

With Sky Sky, once again - an accidental EP. We just went into our friend Craig's studio in Santa Barbara (Garage Majal) with our friend Jeff Sparks to record a song and ended up coming back the week after that, and the week after that... It came together very quickly and overall the result is probably more what we intended.

So, you’ve played Smiths night at Part Time Punks at The Echo before and people seemed to love it. What did you play?

Jason: We played Girlfriend in a Coma and Back to the Old House. Back to the Old House has been in the set for awhile - we love playing it.

The Smiths are one of our favorite bands and I think that we definitely owe some debt to them for our sound. We would like to have played more but we didn't have time to get our act together as much as we would have liked to.

You’re playing the Velvet Underground night at Part Time Punks soon. Which songs do you have planned for it?

Well, that's all very top secret right now - I don't want to give away too much. But we do have a whole set, say eight songs or so, planned. We have brought in the Sterling and John doppelgangers to round out our sound. We thought a two-piece Velvet Underground would be kind of lame. We are very much looking forward to the whole affair.

You two live out in Ventura. What's the music scene like out there?

What scene? Ha! Well, that's not fair - there are a couple cool places for bands to play, like Buffalo Records and Zoey's Cafe. We don't actually know many of the bands that are probably around - we tend to play with the same people when we play around here at all.

Some of the bands that we think are good are Franklin for Short, Tall Tales, and Maria - those are the ones that kind of come to mind right now.

What’s next for you?

Plenty of shows and hopefully another full length record in about a year. And trying to grow Beehouse Records as long as there is money to do so.

Last question: Who are you listening to these days?

Mostly my new iPod which has freed me from the musical tyranny of Jason! I love the Clientele right now; Clap Your Hands Say Yeah; just got Lanterna from our friend Mark and I love that. And a week never goes by that I don't put on GBV at least 3 times.

Jason: Lots of John Coltrane; a lot of Velvet Underground learning those damn lyrics! The Johnny Greenwood Is The Controller Trojan records compilation. And (think it's called) the Many Sides of Fred Neil. We both love the new Sam Prekop like crazy. Colleen is not big on Fred Neil (Colleen: See above regarding Jason's tyranny).

That's it! Thanks for your time.

The Spires will play a live on-air performance on KXLU 88.9 FM today at 7:30 PM (simulcast available online); at Part Time Punks at The Echo as part of the Velvet Underground night on Sunday, April 1st; and at the Eagle Rock Bowling & Drinking Club at All-Star Lanes on Sunday, April 15th.

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Blogger Octavius said...

This is the link to The Spires on

2:51 PM  

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