Following a hugely successful slot at SXSW thanks to PRS Foundation and BBC Introducing, it’s not often a successful unsigned band manage to resist the pressure of signing a major album deal right away.
We caught up with emerging Manchester band Spring King backstage at Liverpool Sound City 2015 to talk festivals, lyrics, and life on the road.
Why did you choose ‘They’re Coming After You’ as the title track for your new EP?
Pete: It was funny deciding the final name for the EP, because we went through quite a few different options. But in the end, there’s something about that song in particular that I felt captured the overall feeling of the EP. Lyrically, there’s an element of love and paranoia which became something of a recurring theme.
Tarek: Overall the EP is about things falling apart. A bit of chaos.
Latest single ‘City’ is gaining lots of airplay. ‘Who am I, what does it matter?’ Let’s explore that lyric?
Tarek: It’s a story about a person who doesn’t know who they are yet, and they’re trying to find themselves. But then I guess literally, what does it matter if you don’t know who you are? You never know who you are, because you’re always changing. Every day you’re a different person because you learn something new! It’s quite philosophical. It doesn’t matter who you were yesterday. Obviously it’s little changes but over time you look back at yourself and you’re like yeah I’ve changed, but I’m happy!
Do you guys have a debut album in progress?
Tarek: We’ve got some tunes together. We’re just starting the process of thinking what we want to do next. We’re playing a few festivals this summer, once that’s done we’ll have more time to concentrate on an album.
Tarek – You’re also a producer on Transgressive. Have you been working with any other artists recently?
Tarek: I just finished working with Gengahr, I did one or two mixes for their last single – one of the tracks made the album. I also did a track for a band called Beach Baby, cool guys. I haven’t been able to take on much else at the moment because of Spring King.
Spring King remain unsigned. Do you feel like you’ll eventually need to cut a deal with a major label, or is that not important?
Pete: It’s something we continually discuss and talk about a lot. We released EPs on various labels, but we haven’t signed an album deal yet. We’re in a place where we’re trying to decide what’s right for us, and fortunately we have options. But today’s a funny world for music, in a way, the label isn’t quite as important as it used to be. There are creative ways of releasing music now, and it’s exciting – not just for the artist, but also for the fans.
Tarek: There’s a lot of good labels out there who we could potentially work with, but we don’t like to rush into anything. It’s been a slow journey for us, we take each day as it comes. We don’t hope for anything, we just play and enjoy ourselves! It’s very organic – we still travel round in the same old car, and we still feel comfortable sleeping on floors!
Pete: There’s too much of a pressure on new bands. The industry has become so much about new music. There’s a new band every week, and everyone’s rushing to get their debut album out – but I think that pressure comes from the label. People need time to grow and develop.
Tell us about your experience at SXSW! How did that opportunity come about?
Tarek: We had just played CMJ, where we had applied for a grant from the PRS Foundation. Later we were playing a gig at KOKO in London, and our manager told us that PRS and BBC Introducing wanted us to go and play over there! It was amazing. We really weren’t expecting them to be so kind and give us another grant! With the help of BBC Introducing and PRS we got there – and we had the best time. It’s so good!
Andy: It’s an utterly insane festival. There’s something between 1,500 – 2,000 bands that descend on the city over a week, maybe 100 venues. Up and down this one street there’s people spilling out of bars left, right and centre.
Pete: And despite the craziness it’s also really well organised! Even though it’s crazy, you turn up and you get treated well – and the sound is really good.
But Liverpool Sound City is more your roots. How would you describe this festival to someone who’s never been before?
Pete: It really does feel like our roots, it’s our third time here! It was actually one of our first ever gigs as a band, so we can definitely say it’s a special festival.
Tarek: Liverpool is a second home for me, I went to university here. Sound City is different this year, there’s loads of stages and it’s the first time I’ve ever experienced Sound City with an arena vibe. I love the funfair! It seems like there’s something for everyone. It’s different this year, but in a really good way. A really, really good way.
What do you hope the crowd take away from your performance today?
James: We simply hope they enjoy themselves – it’s no secret!
Andy: Yeah, and hopefully they’ll walk away with one of our songs stuck in their heads.
Do you have any advice for anyone wanting to break into the music industry?
Tarek: Let’s give that one to the industry expert…
Pete: Ha! I think just work really hard writing songs and playing your instrument. Play as many gigs as you can, and the most important thing is to make sure you’re always being yourself and having a good time.
James: Yeah. Focus on how good your music is, and not what you’re wearing that morning!
Tarek: Trust your instinct. If you get a bad vibe about something or another, always trust your instinct. Whatever you do will fade away for a lot of people, but for you it’ll always stay there and you’ll want to look back and be happy with your choices.