Welcome to part 2 of my interview with Manchester's Springfield Elementary - last weeks Part 1 saw me chatting to lead guitarist Brad and bass player Liam about their first video shoot; touring Germany as rock stars and town twinning. Singer and guitarist Billy joined us midway through, so the conversation picks up again after Chris settled in and offered me my second drink of the evening a glass of red wine. Very civilised!
Debbie: So we were talking about the creative process when you came in... And they were saying how they do all the work and you just play...
Billy: Yeah that's what happens.
Debbie: Laughs... only kidding.
Billy: So was I (laughs)...Sometimes I'll have an idea yeah... Bringing a song to someone and saying; this part happens, then this part happens... I dunno.... sometimes, it's just a lot easier to have a jam and see what comes from that.
Debbie: So do you write lyrics before hand or after?
Liam: Yeah you've got a big book of lyrics..
Billy: I have lyrics... I either go back to some lyrics that I've not put music to yet, or do something that feels natural at the time or I feel like ranting about.
Debbie: When I was researching you before the interview I read that if The Sonics and The Brian Jones Town Massacre had a love child, your sound would be a mix of that. It's weird because I used to work for LV= Insurance and they use the The Sonics song, Have Love Will Travel in the adverts.
Billy: Oh yeah they do...
Debbie: When I read that and then I clicked on that song I was like get it off.. get it off (laughs)
Billy: (laughs)... not to be a nerd but it's not The Sonics version that they use in that advert it's erm the original version.
Debbie: It's really interesting that there is a massive genre of bands who come up when you look at you guys on Spotify there's Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs others like that. Who are your guys's influences, like musically?
Billy: We've all bonded over heavier stuff and things that cross over... we like psyche music as well.
Liam: We're going to see King Gizzard tomorrow, then going to see Sleep on Saturday and they're one of my all time favourite bands.
Debbie: Sleep? Not going to sleep? There's a joke in there somewhere.
Billy: I'm going to catch some Z's mate
Billy: Happy Mondays are a big one for me...
Brad: I think that's our biggest Manchester band influence.
Billy: A lot of people have said Joy Division.. Friends say you seem to remind me of that. You get one none review as well. We asked someone to review something and they said maybe not this time... But they said they liked this about it and disliked this about it. They said a but like Joy Division.
Debbie: I don't get that at all?
Billy: Really? I like that different people have different things they say about it.
Brad: Oh yeah. someone said you sound like Liam Fray..
Billy: so it's like a mix between Liam Fray and...
Brad: They might say Ian Curtis as well...
Billy: and Liam Gallagher as well..... Chris (drummer) was saying the other day. He has the worst shout outs ever. He was saying that it sounds like Liam Gallagher (laughs).
Debbie: Is that what he said?
Billy: Yeah.. (laughs)... I was like really? It did not sound like Liam Gallagher.
Brad: Basically King Gizzard is the most psyche band we play like.
Billy: Psyche, funky
Debbie: A bit like Psychedelic Porn Crumpets? That kind of stuff?
Billy: Yeah they're a bit rocky, this is more of a psychedelic kind of stuff... they had this one song that was really funky - had really cool bass.
Debbie: I love the bass on your latest single, Machine Fiend. It's really good to hear... if you look at the categorisation of the band on Spotify it's Manchester Punk basically. But I think punk and funk are quite similar.
Billy: Oh yeah for sure...
Debbie: I think the way they are both anti establishment and the cultures that they have.... So it's really cool when you hear them cross over. I don't know if you've heard of them there's a band called Talk Show. The singer Harrison is from Manchester they released their latest single this morning.
Billy: We saw you post about that actually
Debbie: Did you? The bass line on that is phenomenal. It grabs you by the lapels and pulls you and when he starts singing it's like; fucking hell! It's incredible! When you see them live as well they absolutely smash it out the park!
Billy: I've never seen them but they played at Dot to Dot didn't they? I made a playlist for Dot to Dot, but I never seen them.
Debbie: I went to see Pip Blom at Band on the Wall earlier this year (review here with video links and pics) and they were on and I genuinely try to get there for the support bands... I'd never heard of them and he started playing and I was like fucking hell! There drummer was insane. His voice was something else as well.
Billy: They are really good I'd love to see them.
Debbie: Sorry where I was going with that...... even though their drummer and singer are really punky their bass is really funky and it's really cool to see when those 2 genres blend successfully so thank you for that it's really cool.
Billy: There's definitely less stuff that we do like than what we don't like.
We talked about my transition and other stuff trans related then for a bit, but this interview about the band and not me so I'll pick it up later in the conversation.
Debbie: So aside from music what else are your passions?
Billy: I'd say film definitely is one of them.
Debbie: Favourite film?
Billy: I couldn't say just one... any of Kubricks. 2001- it's insane how modern it looks even now it's crazy. I like trippy films and ones that make you think.
Billy to Brad: What about you?
Brad: Kubrick for sure..
Billy: Say something else! (laughs).
Debbie: Mines maybe controversial now because of things that have happened since, but I love American Beauty, it's such a beautiful film.
Billy: Yeah that's a great film.
Debbie: People forget that it won 5 Oscars! What a film!
Billy: I was watching this new documentary on R Kelly on Netflix... and it's there everything is hidden in his songs. His songs were good and they're the songs of my childhood but it's there!
Debbie: It's like that with me and Michael Jackson now.
Billy: I think that the documentary was a bit weird. It was very one sided and if you watch the press shots for the documentary it struck me as a bit weird. I don't know I'm on the fence with it all.
Debbie: It's a bit like Machine Fiend.. bringing it back to the band
Billy: Yeah full circle.. it's too controversial and we'll never know.
Debbie: If you look at the political landscape and consider the whole history of punk and how it as a fuck you to society and you consider the juncture you guys are at in society now.. it's phenomenal how much you guys can draw just from current politics never mind anything else. Climate change and all of that as well
Billy: I think in any times of turmoil there's always a great reaction from our community. It's not just music, it's film, it's any kind of art. You don't want to live in the shit times, but at the same time art flourishes in those shit times.
Debbie: So we've talked about your passions... Brad what's your passions?
Brad: I love film and cameras and so I've been taking pics of the band. So I got this purple one from Germany but it makes things purple. I need to bring it out when we do some trips stuff.
Debbie (to Liam): What about you what's your passions outside of music.
Billy (mimics): Drinking lad!
Liam: Just revolves around music and the pub.
Billy: We like reading and TV! Get that in the interview! We love to read get that in we're smart lads! (laughs)
Debbie: What's the last book you read then?
Billy: err... Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain. It's really interesting... anybody who's worked in hospitality will get that one.
Debbie: You should always be nice to waiting staff. They're the ones taking your orders and carrying your food.
Billy: Yeah! It takes a certain type of personality to be a chef.
Debbie: I was a head chef!
Billy: Oh really?!
Debbie: Laughing.... I was nice though... I used to get on with everyone.
Billy: Were you part of the old school though? They were quite harsh and used to drink a lot..
Debbie: I used to cope with going out with mates and stuff... Cooking though it's quite a life skill though isn't it.
Billy: I've started working on a food stall as well. Doing a bit of cooking and that.
Debbie: No way!So you're a man of many talents. Cook, sing, play guitar.
Billy: Well its made me think more about cooking in the home... the best cooks are people who put stuff together.
Debbie: Always season your food... but here's a chefs tip for you. If you've done loads of seasoning and you're not tasting it, try squeezing some lemon juice on it. It lifts all the flavours.
Billy: I love it (cooking) it's like when you play music with your mates in the band for 3 hours a week and you don't have to think about anything else. It's the same. When you're in the kitchen you can forget about anything.
Brad: Yeah I did that the other day with chicken and loads of spices. Squeezed lemon on it and I've been gardening this summer and put some Lemon Basil on it as well.
Billy: Oh you've been growing Basil as well?!
Debbie: I think cooking and punk rock are quite similar actually... you throw loads of shit together and at the end of it you get something quite magical.
Billy: laughing.... it is yeah!
Brad: I think if you're a chef you can get quite angry and if you're a punk you can be quite angry as well, so yeah.
Billy: There's this book we've all shared as well and read it's called.... Selfie - How the west got self obsessed. It's really good. It's something you know in the back of your head. It goes on about how it's been years of societal change.
Debbie: I've noticed it in my lifetime and how society and ideals have changed. Thatcherism, the fall of industries to rewards for everything.
Billy: Yeah they mention that in the book, with participation medals? If you reward them for being last, then people grow up feeling entitled because they're not learning anything basically. It's just the world we live in. People think they're entitled to everything.
Debbie: I think that ultimately... when you strip everything away.... All people are seeking is validation. Whether it's from their partner, within themselves, from others in their social group. Wherever.. and if you don't get it from within your social group, then you seek it from strangers. If you share an amazing picture on Instagram and get 10 likes, but then you share something stupid and get 300 likes then you share the stuff that's damaging because it gets you more likes.
Billy: Basically, that's what Machine Fiend is is like. But it's ironic because as a band you have to be social media savvy and you're writing songs about it but you're also doing it! Do you know what I mean? I feel like with the band it's different because you're trying to get more people to like the art. People take pictures on social media and they say look how good I am and what I'm doing and you're not here!
Debbie: I love posting pictures of me in a basement with loads of sweaty people than pictures of stuff like that.
Billy: Me mum used to take pictures and put them in albums. It's nice to look at photo albums. Me and me girlfriend went to All Points East in London and I took a roll of film. Rather than put them on a disc, I put them in an album so me and her can enjoy them rather then everyone else be looking at them. It's nice to have something between me and her you know? That's our thing for us alone.
Debbie: I share a lot on social media, but there's also a lot I actually don't share. I mean you have to have a private life also.
Billy: For sure for sure. The only thing I mainly share is the band stuff...
Debbie: I've asked the other guys this... who's your favourite Simpsons character?
Billy: Oooohhh....... Long pause..
Debbie: Is it Ground Keeper Willie? (Billy bears a string resemblance)
Billy: (laughing) it might be actually! I kinda look like him. There's like the periphery characters I love all them.
Debbie: Like Mole Man?
Billy: Oh he's really sad... bad stuff always happens to him. But the other ones too.
Debbie: Sideshow Bob?
Billy: Every show with Sideshow Bob in is a class show!
Liam: Millhouse is cool as well.
Debbie: So I ask bands this with every interview. I give you a tenner and you can choose 2 classics or a new album what do you choose?
Billy: Depends really. Depends what's just come out - I'd probably get 2 classics. Trying to think of albums I've always wanted. The White Stripes - Get Behind Me Satan. Piccadilly records is great as well. I love vinyl as you get more as well. I love The Black Angels as well. You got this really good booklet with really cool illustrations on every single lyric page.
Debbie: The last vinyl I bought was The Blinders live at the O2 Ritz.
Billy: Oh fair! Are you into The Blinders?
Debbie: I fucking love them. I've seen them 3 times this year. They were gonna be playing their live album launch recently but it's been rescheduled. My mate he know the lads from them growing up in Yorkshire, so they played YNOT and I was coming out of the tent and my mate was walking towards me... He went Debbie and I turned around and Tom as standing there! I stopped. I had a bit of a fan girl moment. Live, they are absolutely phenomenal.
Brad: Maybe a King Gizzard one.. Not just because they're the band we're seeing tomorrow.
Debbie: If you want to listen to a band that is current as well I would recommend Creature by Yonaka. It's an absolutely phenomenal album!
My thanks to Brad, Liam and Billy for allowing me to take up your rehearsal time to do this interview. It was such fun! I actually got to meet Chris at the gig on the Saturday at Blue Rinse and he's as lovely as the rest of the lads.
If you want to see the lads live (I recommend you do) then you can catch them on the following dates over the next few weeks:
Saturday 19th October 2019 - St. Mary's Church, Cheshire - tickets
Saturday 2nd November 2019 - The Snug Coffee House, Atherton, Wigan - free entry
Saturday 9th November 2019 - The Zanzibar Club, Liverpool - free entry