Monday, 2 February 2009

Full Transcription of Spider and The Flies Interview

Spider And The Flies Full Transcription of Interview

This interview took place on Saturday 31st January 2009 in Tom’s plush flat somewhere in London.

How did the project flourish

S: Spider and the flies came about from tom and I spending countless hours and evenings exploring listening to and just kind of losing ourselves in electronic sounds from some of the earliest Musique Concrete straight through to brand new releases and everything in between. And I think it’s such a insane world that it’s something that you really have to discover for yourself. As a teenager, at school, the idea of dance music or electronic music was something that really scared me because it was something that I didn’t want to anything to do with my identity with riffs and guitars like the rebellious side of like avoiding what I was confronted with in the charts…

T: You think it’s something that’s sort of intangible, not real.

S: I think it was such a horrible time for electronic music as a kid or a teenager, it was something that you kind of just ignore. Chart dance music, was one of the reasons why I completely immersed myself in punk and garage but of course what lies behind the awful, face value stuff that is played on the radio all day, is the most amazing world of creativity that starts out as a science.

I mean most of the original electronic composers were actually trained orchestral musicians who were suddenly given a new instrument or sound to explore in a completely different way. So I suppose in the late 50’s the idea of messing around with the limited equipment they had you know working with oscillators and tapes, suddenly the idea of being able to explore a sound that was before completely unheard of, is just the most exciting thing in the world.

I think for me the first electronic track where I suddenly understood and completely got into everything must have been when I was I dunno, 18 years old, dancing at this mad club and then the 15 minute version of I feel love came on I was in quite an altered state of mind at the time, and as the song went on and on and on, I was obviously familiar with the track, this 15 minute track was the most insane freak-out, it was just like a mad euphoric explosion of synthesizers and wild kind of filtering and phased drums and I just lost myself in that moment.

Transformed by Donna Summer

S: Yeah, it just kind of I think yeah something clicks, and I suppose for me the exciting thing about electronic sounds is that it’s such a man made thing that its like it’s a very emotive way of communicating I suppose.

That’s quite paradoxic…

T: It’s jumping around quite a lot.

S: The earliest sounds that appeal to me, are kind of like the beginnings of working out what you can do, to the birth of dance music. Where you know it’s music to lose your mind to. That other worldly quality is something that from the earliest sounds to house, to everything really, it’s so affecting and I think that’s something that really appeals to us.

T: I remember sort of always being into the old much older records. The garage records that have electronic on them, I mean I don’t really know why anyone would consider putting (makes weird woohohoahfrdngr noise…) on an old garage record, I don’t know why they did it, but those are always my favourite ones.

There’s a great track called ‘Forest Of Black’ by Dirty Filthy Mud which is completely full of those sounds, that was my favourite one. Then it kind of was a natural progression of listening to completely electronic music. Opening your mind to the idea that dance music isn’t, this sounds really awful saying this now, but if all you’ve ever been exposed to is really awful soulless rubbish then you’ve got this horrible idea of what it can be like. It was opening your mind to the fact that it can be some of the most amazing music

S: The thing that is so inspiring and the thing that really drives us is the idea that in early guitar music it started to creep it’s way in…I don’t know what’s the right word. But the way that it’s affected generations from like acid house and then how in America…this is all getting a bit over the top…the impact that had on the London scene and what it’s evolved from into…you know what became rave and that into jungle and into drum and bass. It’s too difficult to say why you enjoy it, but it’s a world to easily get completely lost in.

It’s interesting what you were saying earlier about how it can be emotive music. Because of your garage / psychedelic influence with the Horrors, compared to the automated, very clinical techno influence- how do you find that differs in the process of actually making it and how you respond to it?

S: Well the process of writing is obviously completely different. It was amazing for Tom and I to work like this because it is working in such a different way. It’s not working in a band you know, writing together in a rehearsal room, throwing chords or ideas around, kind of that organic sense of playing and working. It’s such a different thing.

It was a real kind of release of energy, ok we’re writing as this band, but there was this other thing you could really do. The possibilities are endless, you could do whatever you want. And the point was, we were doing it for everyone’s enjoyment, but it was a chance for us to be let loose and try and explore.

T: There was no way out, there was no one telling us, whispering in our ear.

S: Funnily enough on that note, when we recorded the mini EP was kind of recorded in two sections the flip side of the vinyl release. The first five tracks on the CD were our first foray into recording and writing in that way, we had just been working with the Horrors up until that Friday and I think we booked in the Sunday. We literally got back from touring and decided to go straight into working like that.

We thought well lets not write this music lets actually think about, lets write to a theme or lets come up with a story ‘cos that’s obviously something we were interested in, in some of the concrete or the Joe Meek, more avant garde or experimental side. We thought, you know, lets actually write a story and then create the sounds for it.

It was very much played live at that point there was obviously a lot of programming involved.

T: It was all programmed, none of it was sequenced.

S: The other couple of tracks that feature on the LP we recorded a year later and you can very much hear how the sound has completely moved on. The original thing is quite organic and quite filmic, it’s certainly not the sequenced programmed…(inaudible).

Can I just confirm when exactly you started recording?

S: We actually recorded the first five tracks last summer.

T: We were gonna go on tour in America, we found out that was over and we had a week off so we decided to do this thing we’d been talking about doing for ages.

S: It was our first experience in a recording studio working like that.

How about the actual recording process how did you come up with the concept for each track? Is it just you literally messing about and seeing what happens and hoping you’re happy with the results or is it actually scientifically calculated?

T: It’s completely both ways, most of the time. The two most recent tracks, one of them was just like a 10 minute jam we were doing at the end of the night cut up into 4.5 mins. One of them was just us taking turns and putting parts on, it’s a real studio based thing, We’ve thought about taking it live.

Yeah, are you gonna have any live dates?

T: We would really like to, but its hard because of the way we’ve done it you either have to learn how to play the tracks you’ve already done, which would take more time that we’ve got or you have to do something improvised which could go either way.

S: We’ve kind of discussed what we’d do to take it live and we’ve wanted to keep as true as to working with the analog equipment and try and not get lost in the fact that you could just bring a laptop and have everything programmed at the touch of a button.

We’ve discussed the idea of having a load of drum machine, sequencer and keyboards clocked up. In theory you know, you can create and play within those limits, but still completely explore.

Visually that would be more exciting as well…

T: But there is a danger of it getting a bit tangerine dream, I think the trick is to keep it really minimal, you’ve gotta have about one keyboard each.

Reading the press release and your description on your Myspace you’ve kind of created this time traveling, out of space exploring…

S: We just made that up as the week went along didn’t we? There was a record called ‘I Hear a New World’ a kind of Joe Meek solo project, he worked with a live band, one of his regular studio bands but it’s really a record he used to explore and to play around with his studio world. And the various techniques that he’d been exploring of treating sound, very much in the way that the concrete musicians were but without really knowing it.

His exploration of tape loops, weird reverb units and echo chambers he’d built and he was really driven to explore electronic sound and this record was actually a journey into space.

Each track had a narrative and featured different aliens and life form and it told you about their personality. He created this world and each track had its on world within it, the music so vividly came to life. There were only 100 copies pressed, that was such an inspiration to us that we wanted to pick up where he left off and go on our own journey, our own vision of space. We thought that was a really inspiring idea.

I’m interested as to whether each track has a concept to it?

S: We did want to write a story for each track

T: We did but you kind of end up getting carried away with the music, but then it ends up coming back on itself and you’re like where’s the character now and how’s the story gonna end.

S: The first track is our launch into space…there’s our version of the kind of Cantina bar, our kind of robo-disco track we stumble across walking into a crazy club full of insane robots off their heads kind of dancing. There’s a mad space chase track which I just had this vision of speeding through a meteorite shower.

T: ‘Jungle Planet’ has got the best one, Jungle planet is a planet which from the outside doesn’t look like anything, it just looks like a bare, horrible barren planet . But you can go through it and when you go into it it’s all jungle and the song is suppose to be flying through the planet. There’s an alien tribesman trapping people. And there’s loads of creatures going (makes weird noise corresponding with the weird noises on the record). It opens up into this huge space and there’s this disgusting monster in it, then it’s the escape from the disgusting monster.

So it is a concept album then?

S: It is a concept album but we didn’t want to be too like erm…


T: Yeah exactly

S: Well the thing is it’s such a visual thing, we didn’t really need to explain what’s happening because it paints a picture that if you are to listen to it from start to finish you can hear what’s going on. If you’ve got a loose idea of what’s happening I think you could literally paint your own picture.

You won’t be having any epic story in the sleeve notes then?

Both: No.

T: We toyed with that idea.

So that’s solar influences covered, would you say you’ve got any B movie, horror influences at all? With the artwork and the human fly image?

Both: No

T: That was more just like we came up with a name and then come up with the concept afterwards. There’s not an awful lot of good material to be found in B movies and horror stuff. I don’t know, I’ve got a few sound tracks but there’s nothing that amazing. No, that’s never really been an influence for us, we’re not really big film people, we’re big record people but not film.

Where did your relationship with Barry 7 from add N to X spring from, how did you meet him?

S: I met him djing at the old blue last, I was playing a track by Michael Cox, he came storming over and was sort of like ‘what’s this track, what’s this track’ and I told him what it was and immediately we started talking and we just became friends.

T: It was the opposite way for me, he was playing a record that I really wanted and we just hit it off, I think we’ve got a very similar love of music and electronics and he spurred us on to buy as much equipment as possible and as a result we’ve got too much. He was really supportive.

You’ve talked a lot about academic side to music, have you studied it?

T: No not at all, I kind of wish I had now, it was something that at the time the idea of music technology sounded like the Anti Christ, why would you want to scientifically break down that. Now I really wish I had.

S: I always see myself as a punk finding music in (any) of it’s form. The best thing about working with these new machines…

T: old machines

S: yeah well, old machines, is hearing and learning how they work and how sound is affected.

T: I come across a lot of people that know a lot, but you know, they ain’t got no soul (laughs). It’s not like you can’t learn it or do it yourself, if you put in the effort you can.

S: I think that’s one of the really inspiring things of the Radiophonic Workshop, is that they were inventing this science as they went along.

T: Them and Raymond Scott are the two kind of big people…I’m curious to know how many people were influenced by them immediately after and I’m pretty sure it’s actually next to no one. I think now what they were doing was miles ahead of their time.

S: There’s a really amazing album called White Noise I had before actually knowing anything about the Radiophonic Workshop and it is a psychedelic record made in ’69 heavily features electronics. Delia Derbyshire was approached to work on that record.

T: The way it was made is pretty much like exactly how Madlib or J Dilla made their records, except they were cutting up tape instead of putting it into samplers, it’s just as weird, just as psychedelic and just as amazing.

In terms of your contemporaries, would you say there’s anyone around doing what you’re doing?

T: Without sounding really wanky, there are some bands I really like but I don’t think they see themselves in the same ball park as we are and I don’t think we do either.

S: We just are in our own contained unit, maybe this is like the electronic wing of what we’re doing and we’d definitely like to go and explore other wings as well. But there’s definitely some amazing electronic music being made at the moment.

T: Mostly in The Hague, some really great dance tunes coming out of the ghettos in The Hague.

Do you know Underground Resistance? I was just reading an article about ‘Mad’ Mike Banks and the whole Detroit scene…

T: Yeah, yeah he’s amazing, but he’s in Model 500 now. Like Model 500 live is like a complete techno all stars team. I mean Underground Resistance, as far as their concerned no one outside of Detroit should even hear their records. That’s amazing, and that music is so much more punk than punk has been for a really long time.

Is there any relevance to the clockwork theme?

T: the idea it would be like a clockwork spaceship…

No homage to Clockwork Orange then?

T: No that would have been to easy.

This seems a lot more mature, it’s different to the kind of NME front page idea? Less NME more The Wire.

T: We never strived for that kind of thing with the Horrors.

S: Unfortunately other people have more power to create a mould/ image of you than you do yourself. We would have made this in exactly the same way as we did with the Horrors regardless of what anyone wrote or put on their pages. It really is what happens on the other side that says something.

T: Maybe it was a lot camper than we thought it was, we never had the intention of it being a shock horror thing.

S: We were just like 19/ 20 year olds playing guitar music, we didn’t think that anyone was gonna listen to that


T: None of us had ever written a song it was just a fun idea.

S: It’s just what we would have always done, if noone had paid any attention to the Horrors we would have still been doing it. We certainly weren’t really interested in what people were gonna think of it. We just did it. It’s the same as Spider and the Flies, wherever we were, we would have done that as well. It’s not in any way a considered move.

T: It’s not a case of ‘look how interesting we are, we make electronic music’ like what Coldplay did or something, ‘We listen to kraftwerk and we rip them off as well’.

Its just timing is it not? I was 18, you can’t expect like Leonard Cohen or something straight away.

I wasn’t saying that you’re intentionally trying to stray away, it’s just that listening to your album it’s not as accessible to some of the kids that maybe listen to the Horrors and are expecting something completely different.

T: They like it

S: I don’t know what I think, the reason we’re making music like that is because we

Explored and heard amazing music. I’m hoping it will have the same affect on people because actually there is a world of great music that isn’t rubbed in your face every day and that’s actually where the best stuff generally lies.

T: The Cave Club is a really good example of this, it’s basically an underground psychedelic club, we switched around and said we want to do the electronic stuff, and all the same people came down and stayed, people are open to that idea.

S: Great music is always great music. There’s just too much shit music around, it blurs people’s vision.

T: if you wanna eat fish and chips everyday then that’s your problem, your missing out.

You haven’t got any ideas for touring?

T: What with Spider and the Flies, not at the moment, no way.

S: We were planning on doing a live launch for the record we’ve been so busy doing other things that we haven’t sorted it out yet, but if someone was to say to us, ‘You’ve got a week off in August’, not even that far, ‘you’ve got a week off in May’ or something, ‘do you wanna play a gig?’ we’d probably say yes, we would and even if it was just a one off thing, we’d love to and we will as well.

T: Unfortunately I think the idea of a week off in August is way off.

So you’re just playing it by ear?

S: Yeah, that’s the way this entire project has worked. But there’s new sounds being created on a weekly basis.

T: We’ve been asked to do live sessions for the BBC and XFM, but instead of doing live sessions we’ll write three tracks each, instead of doing a session, so yeah they’ll come out.

What do you get out of this project that you don’t get out of other projects?

T: Initially it was, it’s was a chance to do, ‘cos we were touring lot when we’d started doing this record, we were playing songs that we thought maybe were a bit immature maybe we weren’t too happy about playing and this is a great chance to do something that we really wanted to do.

Now to be honest, I don’t really feel like I’m getting anything else out of this than the other band. It’s a bit more…fun I dunno its different to the Horrors, where you would have to sneak it in. It was initially a great opportunity to do things that we couldn’t do.

S: That’s not even true either, we’ve just recorded a (horrors) record that features a lot more…

Have you found that it’s seeped through, both projects have collided?

T: I think it would have been ridiculous for us to do another album that sounded exactly the same as the last...

S: (Interrupting) Well it was out of the question, it would just never happen.

Danke schön to Tomothy Furse and Rhys ‘Spider’ Webb for taking time out of their busy schedule to take part in the interview and subsequent photoshoot…the results of which I am yet to see.

The feature produced from this interview should be in the April or March edition of Artrocker Magazine unless something goes horrifically wrong or the editors think it’s shite...i'm not kept in the loop on these things. Watch this space, actually i wouldn't if i were you nothing will change.