We caught up with The Spectre Collective over the lockdown for a chat about their latest album, which came out in March.
When/where was the new album recorded?
We started putting together some tracks around August last year, and worked on them gradually all the way up to the release date. Will was still writing lyrics 3 days before the album came out. We recorded the foundations of the tracks at Pyramid Club (usually live as a 3 piece), and then did overdubs at Jono & Will’s place in Island Bay.
Who produced/engineered the album? How did the tracks come together in the studio, or at home?
Lochie Noble produced & engineered the album. He’s also in the band, so he knows what sound to go for. A lot of the songwriting happens during the overdub stage, so Lochie sets up the gear and then we experiment with little noodly bits, percussion, and atmospheres etc.
How did the songwriting happen? Are there any overall themes within the songs/album?
Pretty haphazard on this one. The last album Electric Waffle was instrumental because Will couldn’t be fucked writing any more lyrics, but this time the battery was recharged and it was fun for him to dive back into the wordplay of it all. We’re interested in juxtaposition, so even our tonally lighter songs deal with dark subjects. ‘Cherry Farm’ is about a psychiatric patient who is subjected to abusive LSD experiments, learns the secrets of the universe, and then forgets them because of the trauma. ‘Herd Immunity’ is set in a world where no one is vaccinated, and follows the parents of an immuno-compromised boy who decide to kill the neighbours’ children so he can live a normal life. ‘Filth & Fortune’ is about psychopathic paedophiles in positions of power. ‘Gemini Method’ is about a true murder technique invented by a mafia hitman. So ya know, pretty fun stuff. The name of the album is really just two words that sound good together, but in retrospect it could be a comment on the weaponisation of confusion and hysteria as a form of control. Maybe. I dunno.
Were you going for a different sound/approach on this album?
We had no idea what this album would be stylistically or thematically, so it took us a bit longer than our other albums to figure out what to do. At first we thought it’d be a heavy one, but because the last album was kind of gimmicky, we decided to play around with all sorts of genres and tones and approach it song by song. Will is a self-conscious vocalist, so he wanted to try and get the vocals sounding nice. Lochie’s engineering is getting better with each album, so he was keen to get it sounding full and lush, and he did a stellar job. Playing things slightly more accessible for audiences was important too, but what we think is pop is still weird for most people. We tried to avoid the simple evil minory stuff, and Jono really brought his sensibilities into the fold to create some really cool dynamics in the songs.
Was there any specific gear you used to capture that?
Nothing specific to capture any particular sound. Just whatever we could beg and borrow from people. The Korg MS20 is always a fun little creature to get spooky sounds out of.
Is there a particular single/track that you feel captures the essence of the album?
Most of the songs are completely different from each other, so not really. The album is bookended by a light fluffy opening track and a heavy, doom-laden ending track. Everything in between is a free for all. We’re super proud of ‘Swamp Fling’, and ‘Herd Immunity’ was very rewarding to make. Wabi-Sabi essentially sums up the mantra of the band, in terms of its content. Hopefully there’s something for everyone in there.
Is there a physical copy available? If not which digital platforms is it available on?
We can’t afford to make any physical copies, so it’s on Bandcamp, Spotify, and whatever other streaming platforms exist. If someone wants to donate funds towards vinyl of our stuff, we’re all ears!
Are you working on a video/videos for any of the songs? Are you doing any gigs or promotion for its release?
We released a video for our single Swamp Fling. It features our friend Oli Devlin from Hans Pucket, and was a real joy to film. We removed a song from the album, but will probably do a video for that at some point and put it on the next album. No tour planned, because everything is messed up in the world right now. Hopefully people just listened to the album while they were quarantined and can relate to the paranoia of it all.