THERE is another band…
out there with a very similar spelling to that of spudd cannon. To be fair; their (the other band) music is not as fiery, interesting and full-on as the lower-case-spelt alternative. I have been talking with the trio – Mikey and JJ take up most of the answers – about their E.P., Dude, Where’s My Boat, Man?, and the themes that inspired the songs. They talk about their formation and where they head next; new artists worth a shot; whether, they feel, too many groups are avoiding a D.I.Y. approach to music-making – they provide advice to new artists.
I discover what music makes them tick; how they spend their time away from music; the sounds and artists who made an impact on them growing up; what the inspiration behind their name is – and what the vibe is like in their part of the world, Bishop’s Stortford.
Hi, guys. How are you? How has your week been?
Mikey (Vocals/Guitar): It's been good. Well, mixed, I guess. We did a photoshoot and made a video at the weekend but, then, it's back to the harsh reality of day-jobs until, hopefully, someday we can do this sh*t full-time…
JJ (Bass): …But, on the whole, it's been quite productive, actually.
For those new to your music; can you introduce yourselves, please?
Mikey: We're spudd cannon. We like to play energetic, no-nonsense Punk-Rock music. Our sound has been likened to early-Green Day; Cheshire Cat-era Blink-182; the Sex Pistols and FIDLAR. To be honest: we're pretty okay with that.
Can I ask whether there is a special story behind the name, ‘spudd cannon’?
JJ: Mikey came up with the name…
Mikey: It's from a video game called Bully that came out years ago. The protagonist is a teenager attending boarding school and a ‘spud cannon’ was one of the weapons you could use. I just thought it sounded kinda cool for the band.
Dude, Where’s My Boat, Man? is your new E.P. What sort of themes inspired it?
I guess you could say that In My Back Yard is written a little tongue-in-cheek - but it's primarily about boredom. Shy Guy Says follows a similar theme: although, more specifically, it describes social anxiety as well. Magic Stars is about having good memories of a relationship; albeit you're glad it's over. A to Z is a song about lust.
JJ: Our best work is usually based on events or people.
Life is pretty swell right now, so the songs are generally uplifting. We've written songs in the past with quite a sour taste - but they're not working for us right now.
Will there be any singles from the E.P. arriving?
Shy Guy Says is, probably, the single we'd pick. We've just shot a video for it that we're super-excited about. We do have a couple more tracks on the way, though, that we are planning on releasing as singles
The E.P. was recorded in a basement and has that D.I.Y. feel. Was it important to keep things raw and ‘proper’?!
It was important to keep it cheap...!
Mikey: Seriously though: incredibly important. In previous bands, I've gone down the route of paying for people who claim to be engineers or producers; doing hours upon hours in studios and thinking the end result/mix sucked. By recording and mixing our E.P. ourselves, we gave ourselves the freedom to showcase a handful of songs that properly replicate who we are and how we sound live: three guys, one drum track; one bass track, one guitar track and one vocal: no dumb effects, no Auto-Tune; no bullsh*t.
Sometimes, that feels lost in music today
JJ: Mikey was the main guy behind mixing. He has no training or experience as such - but we're stoked with how it turned out
Bishop’s Stortford is where you hail from. How did you find one another? What is the scene like where you are?
Mike's dad used to be Charlie's cricket coach and knew Charlie was a drummer. Mikey was starting up his first band at the time. Me and Charlie went to high-school together and started doing bits and bobs musically there. I met Mikey through him. Our eyes met across the room; instantly there were sparks.
Mikey: Unfortunately, we're at a point where we feel the local music scene is dissolving. We've seen a lot of our favourite venues close in recent years, such as The Square in Harlow.
I can hear Punk bands like Green Day and Ramones in your sound. Which artists did you all grow up with?
JJ: There was a time when I exclusively listened to AC/DC. They're a huge Rock influence of mine. I guess the Punk side of things came from when I was an angsty teenager…and it never really went away.
Mikey: None of our parents really listened to Punk. My dad played a lot of Genesis and things like that when I was growing up; so there was always music in the house. But, discovering bands like Rancid, Sum 41; Nirvana and Silverchair when I was a teenager was a huge eye-opener.
What do you think of the band scene right now? Do you think the best band-made music is coming from the underground?
JJ: I think I've seen a lot of 'underground' bands that I think should be making headlines. I don't think the majority of this generation enjoy going to small gigs like I used to when I was growing up - so these new bands aren't getting the recognition.
Which is a damn shame.
Can we see you tour soon? What gigs do you have coming up?
Mikey: We've been so focused on getting the E.P. finished and our material up-to-scratch that we've stepped away from the live scene for the time being…
Charlie (Drums): …We will always primarily be a live band, though.
JJ: We have been known to throw our own shows in the past. We're looking to play as much as we can this year.
How does your music change when you bring it on the stage?! Is it somewhere you all feel very comfortable?
Mikey: Our music doesn't change that much: we intentionally recorded our E.P. fast to replicate the live sound. We keep things simple in recording: plug in and go.
JJ: It took me ages to get comfortable on stage. It's always harder when it's your music - because you're worried about what people will think.
Mikey: Being on stage isn't something that fazes me, personally. I have confidence in our music and our songs. It is nice when a new audience seems to appreciate it as well, though.
IN THIS PHOTO: SWMRS
What do you all hope to achieve, personally, in 2018?
In terms of music; I think the sky is the limit for all three of us. But, personally? Not sure. Maybe I'll finally get a decent haircut.
JJ: I compete in powerlifting. I'd like to hit some big numbers this year.
Charlie: I'd like to successfully orbit the sun. Just once.
Have you each got a favourite memory from your time in music – the one that sticks in the mind?
Mikey: The bad ones, as well as the good, seems to stay with you. Playing the O2 Academy in Islington was a cool experience a few years ago. But, then you have times like when the stage collapsed mid-show at a festival gig.
JJ: I got thrown out of one of our gigs once - for shenanigans. That memory will stick with me. I think my favourite memory would have to be the first time we played live together. I wasn't new to gigging at that point; it was just really comfortable on stage. We had a lot of fun.
What advice would you give to new artists coming through?
Pick a sound you love. Don't go with the trend. Don't necessarily be in a band with someone just because they're talented.
It's tricky to explain but you need to find people on the same wavelength as you. Me and Charlie have so much chemistry that we complement each other and know what direction we're going in when we play together. We can look at each other and know what to do next to give a song a twist.
Mikey: I would also say not to believe all the people who claim they can promote, grow or better your band - especially if there's money involved. There's nothing you can't do on your own.
Do you get much time to chill away from music? How do you unwind?
JJ: Music is probably how I unwind, actually. Work is frustrating. My other hobbies are frustrating. When we're all in a room together, it just works.
Finally, and for being good sports; you can each choose a song and I’ll play it here (not any of your music - I will do that).
Social Distortion - Don't Drag Me Down
Charlie: Sham 69 - If the Kids Are United
Mikey: Wavves - No Shade
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