If someone out there is going to make a video of a Spectrals song, then I hope they use the Spike Lee shot: the director's trademark move, borrowed from Mean Streets. It involves standing a camera and an actor on the same dolly then tracking. You focus on the actor, who is usually suffering some terrible heartache, while the world—all woozy and strange—blurs around him. Spectrals songs are like that. I spoke to one-man wall of sound Louis Jones about hats, hopes and L.U.V.
Download: Spectrals, "Don't Mind"
Every time I've seen you play you've been wearing a different hat. Do you own loads of hats?
I've got quite a few hats haven't I? If you've seen me play, then you'll have seen most of the hats that I own, there aren't any secret hats. I started getting into hats because my hair was that awful in-between length, I wanted to have dead long hair but that isn't an overnight accomplishment. I've got to tell you though, I'm starting to phase the hats out, my red Supreme one has took a bit of a battering and it's starting to become more of a talking point than it ought to be.
Do you still record Spectrals as a solo project, even though you play live with a full band?
I still do it on my own, apart from the drums, which I write but don't record, I'm absolutely dire at playing the drums in anything resembling "time" and I can't see myself ever getting any better, so now I get my little brother, who also does them at my rock concerts, to come help me with them, it means I can do things a lot quicker, and also, I promised my Ma I would try and keep him out of trouble, he is a liability. I can get by with all the usual instruments but I'm not even remotely interested in being able to shred on any of them or whatever, as long as I can make them sound like what I have in mind for the song then that's ace. People who are precious about things like that get on my nerves, If anybody introduces themselves to me as a "guitar player" or "vocalist" I usually do my best to give them the vague off.
Where would you draw the line? Would you play trumpet if a song required it or get someone in? How about a bassoon?
I think I'm going to have to get someone else in to do saxophone and things like that, because that's next level sort of stuff, you can't just pretend to play it and get away with it. I'd also like to have some girls sing on Spectrals songs. What does the bassoon even sound like?
I think itís like an oboe, but... bassoonier. How is your album coming along?
I'm gonna do an EP before I do my album, the record label Moshi Moshi are going to facilitate it's release. I just finished recording it to analogue reel-to-reel tape with Richard Formby. Some songs that are on it are "I Ran With Love But I Couldn't Keep Up" and "Peppermint."
When it sells millions will you continue producing yourself or will you get Will.I.Am or Rick Rubin in to give you a hand?
If it sells millions I'd like to keep recording very much the same way but with older and weirder equipment. Hopefully I would also be able to boycott PC computers all together because they upset me. At the moment I am enjoying doing things with Richard, who I mentioned earlier, because he is totally down with me having a sound in my head and trying to work towards that rather than what his or someone else's idea of a record sounds like. I get the impression that some producers are just soundmen like you get at a gig, but in disguise, trying to stamp their name on things, and I'd like to avoid those people if I could.
Your music can be quite disorienting. It's like classic pop music in a hall of mirrors. There's something unsettling about it. It reminds me of the way David Lynch uses songs. Like Roy Orbison's "In Dreams" in Blue Velvet. Except your songs don't need a film to draw out their weirdness.
I'm glad that you get it. That is my whole thing: really sweet songs with nasty lyrics, or classic sounding songs that have been fucked with a little bit. It's not out of a considered attempt to shock anyone or anything silly like that (not that I think they ever would) but just because I like to listen to things like that. I do my songs about girls and L.U.V. and all that, and in my limited experience, a lot of the time that can be an awful, bizarre, and disorientating feeling, I'm just trying to get that across.
Now that Phil Spector is in jail are you going to continue his legacy? By that I mean producing awesome pop music, not killing women.
He's still my guy, whatever he is supposed to have done. I think he should've got given a pass on account of all the ace songs he produced. Just kidding. He's a sketchy character but I cherish that. There's a lot of boring people around, especially in music, which is quite odd if you think about it.
The new Spectrals single "7th Date" / "Don't Mind" is out Monday on Slumberland Records.