Interview with St Spirit

Hailing from Crystal Palace, nineteen year old Myles, Sam, Ryan, Joe and Josh formed whilst together at college last year. But it would appear that jamming and creating music wasn’t the only thing distracting them from their studies – their band name inspired by the island San Esperito from cult Xbox game Just Cause. Thankfully the allure of the addictive computer console didn’t effect the quality of the music, Radio One’s Huw Stephens and Steve Lamacq, as well as XFM’s John Kennedy confirming their musical genius with frequent plays of their latest release.
The upcoming debut album was recorded in a living room by the band. Mixing duties were then taken on by world-renowned engineer Adrian Bushby. You’d be forgiven for making the presumption that this part of the process was completed in some plush state of the art studio somewhere, particularly when considering that Bushby’s talent has been previously utilized by superstars including the Foo’s and Muse . However, the truth is more in-keeping with the St.Spirit… urrr… spirit. The record was actually mixed in a garden.
The debut single, Pigeon, will be released on February 28th. It is the lead track taken from their debut EP of the same name, which will be released on February 20th. I spoke to Myles McCabe (lead vocals and guitar) , Sam Robson (guitar and vocals) , Joe Reed (Bass guitar and backing vocals) to find out about the process and get a handle on what St. Spirit is all about.

When did you all know you that you had a talent or interest in music?
Myles: I was about 10 years old when ‘School of Rock’ came out; I was already a massive Tenacious D fan and Jack Black was like my idol, that film blew my tiny mind.
Sam: I would tap on tables and chairs etc..
Have you all been in various musical acts before this?
Myles: Some of us still are in various musical acts, SamT, Fledgling, MC Carbohydrate to name but a few
Sam: I used to be in a couple of bands but nothing as serious as this.
What jobs were you doing before deciding to make a go of the band?
Sam: Jobcenter.
Myles: I sold appetite suppressants
What makes you feel this formation is ‘the one’?
Myles: Just a hunch.
Mission statement of the band?
Myles: I think just like, try and make good songs that sound good
What do all members bring to the band? Please describe the band personality traits.. is one a good organizer and another good at settling arguments for instance?
Myles: Really none of us are either of those things, not in the slightest.
Joe: Ryan brings funny drawings
Can you outline the writing process for you – who takes on the lyrics, where do you write, is it a completely collaborative experience?
Myles: Sam and I work on the music together. Sometimes I write the lyrics in afterwards, sometimes I write them along with a song and we arrange it together. Most of our ideas happen as we’re recording, we approach it like we’re just doing a demo and we just try out everything. We usually spend about 5 or 6 straight hours recording each track, then Sam mixes it a bit when I go home.
You’ve undergone a line up change. Can you tell me the reason behind this change?
Myles: The lineup has changed a lot over the odd 3 years we’ve been doing this, Sam and myself have been the only consistent members.
I hear you record everything in your house. Is this merely because it is convenient? Is it to have as much control over the recording as possible? Does being at your home make you work more efficiently?
Myles: Yeah we do everything at Sam’s house, even given the choice of a big studio for now we would definitely stick with Sam’s. I think it does come down to control and convenience. I don’t know about efficiency, some days we’ll mess around with ideas and it won’t sound good so we won’t record anything at all that day and that’s totally fine, there’s no pressure.
Max makes all of your videos. Do you let him decide the treatment for the visuals, or is this something you work on together?
Myles: Yeah Max is my brother so we usually bounce ideas off each other and develop them a bit together but ultimately he has creative control over the videos.
Do you find it easier to instill the ideas you want when collaborating with family or friends? Perhaps you feel able to flag up any issues more freely than with someone outside of your circle?
Myles: Yeah as I said, Max being my hermano makes it a lot easier for us to share ideas, we sort of use each other as a sounding board for our individual projects as well. As for instilling musical ideas I think we’ve learned that it usually works best not to get too attached to our respective preconceptions about how a song should sound.
There’s a very DIY nature to what you do. Is this something you’d try to maintain to an extent, even as your success and opportunities grow?
Myles: If the DIY thing stays, it stays. It’s not the kind of thing you can really affect but we’ll always just do what sounds best to us, we’re probably going to end up walking a pretty lo-fi line for the foreseeable.
What do the rest of your family and loved ones think about you pursuing a career in music?
Myles: They pressured me into this, I wanted to be a doctor.
Sam: They’re cool with it.
Adrian Bushby mixes your work. He is currently working with Muse, and has worked with incredible acts including Foo Fighters, Smashing Pumpkins, Depeche Mode, to name but a few. What do you think sets him apart from other engineers?
We’re not signed and he’s doing it because he likes the music, we really appreciate that. Whatever he’s doing to those tracks is definitely working, what exactly that is, I couldn’t say.
Are you with him for the majority of the time he is mixing or do you leave him to it – him sending updated files to you throughout the process?
Myles: The process is really between Adrian and Sam, they do it all online.
Have you ever tried to get glean some stories regarding his rather exciting former and current clients?
Myles: He has a pretty awesome collection of Star Wars stuff.
Does anything daunt you about progressing in the music industry?
Sam: Not really, we all really appreciate the stages we are going though.
Will you guys be the sort that reads every review? How do you deal with criticism?
Myles: As the man himself once said: “Fuck critics, you can kiss my whole asshole”  but yeah… most of the reviews we’ve had have been pretty positive.
Dream collaboration?
Myles: SamT?
Sam: MC Carbohydrate?
Dream support slot?
Myles: Manchester Orchestra maybe
Sam: Take 6, as it is only a dream.
Joe: Prince.
Last gig you attended?
Billy Bragg supported by Akala and Sound of Rum at the Forum up in Camden, Max was seeing Okkervil River down the road at Koko, luckily my Billy Bragg ticket was free so I didn’t have to agonise over which gig to go to. Actually I played bass for Port Isla since then, does that count? Just remembered I saw Scroobius Pip at the Banquet night New Slang on my birthday. That was pretty special.
What is on your recently played list?
Myles: Quite a lot of Antlers and Mountain Goats but it’s mainly Elliott Smith
Sam: Deerhoof, Jesu, Eric Whitacre and a few other that I can’t remember
Joe: Vetiver, My Bloody Valentine, Weezer & I’m digging the new Wooden Ships stuff.
Ones to watch for this year?
Palace Of Justice, Dead Red Sun, Ex Libra’s
Aims and goals for 2012?
Myles: To release an album, write, record, gig.
How would you describe your single Pigeon (out Feb 20th) in one sentence?
Myles: Talking really isn’t a strongpoint of mine, the track is probably best left to speak for itself.
Sam: Ditto the above

See the guys live…..
2nd February – Camden Barfly, London, NW1
14th February – The Social, London (Huw Stephens Introducing), W1W
17th February – Amersham Arms, London, SE14
29th February – Buffalo Bar, London, N1

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