Solabeat Alliance

By Andy

BEN: Right, to start with, introduce yourself and tell us what part you play in Spankboy
TIM: I’m Tim, and I’m the singer. I basically write most of the music, and also play guitar and keyboards when we’re recording.
BEN: How long has the band been going?
TIM: We’ve been going for about 4 years, but with the current lineup around 14 months.
BEN: Did you find that after changing the lineup the style of music you play changed too, or has it been more constant?
TIM: It’s definitely changed, because we used to be a really fast punk band, like NOFX or Green Day but now it’s got a lot more ska-y.
BEN: You’ve just come offstage after playing a blinder of a set here in London, what are the few minutes just before you go onstage like?
TIM: It’s really cool! I really look forward to it, especially in a place like this because you know you’re going to have a really good time.
BEN: Have you found, having been on the road for pretty much most of the year, that there are things that crop up time and time again that you absolutely hate?
TIM: Yeah, waiting around! And driving from one end of the country to another every day. We’re averaging about 6/7 hours a day, quite a lot.
BEN: That’s gotta take something out of the performance, if you’re travelling for 6 hours then playing a show?
TIM: It does, but our van’s really cool. Most of us can drive it, and there are beds for us.
BEN: When do you find that you write the most songs, when on tour or when you’re on a break?
TIM: When we’re on our breaks, definitely. When on tour you’re not really doing much but it’s really busy at the same time.
BEN: Do you find that the songs you write fall into the clichéd punk stereotype, where they’re about ex-girlfriends, shitty jobs etc or are you breaking away from that?
TIM: We’re trying really hard to get away from that – we’ve got it down to only 2 songs about girls, none about jobs or getting fucked over by record labels and selling out.
BEN: Looking at some of the more successful bands in the world, not just punk, some of their biggest songs are about love and being dumped – have you thought that some more success might happen if you did have some more perhaps ‘predictable’ songs?
TIM: We’re still trying to find our sound. I think we’ve found it, but we’re trying to work out what it is and where we want to come from! We’re writing a new album at the moment so there’s blatantly going to be songs about girls on it because it always happens.
BEN: This new album, any details?
TIM: We’re going into the studio on August during a week off to do 4 tracks, and we’re just trying out different studios at the moment. It’s all being done on our own again.
BEN: I also heard a rumour that you’re in talks with a label at the moment…
TIM: True story, but it’s still totally secret!

BEN: You’ve been touring for much of the year, which bands that you’ve toured with have you really hit it off with?
TIM: Lightyear are really nice guys, Capdown as well.
BEN: Capdown are supposedly going to be hitting the bigtime, according to a certain national radio station and they have a more traditional Ska sound. Does that bode well for you guys?
TIM: They’re doing well because they have their own sound. I like playing with bands like that because I find it boring if all the support bands sound exactly like the headliners. It’s all about diversity, which is why I like Capdown and Lightyear.
BEN: It’s all about originality I think. Looking at the biggest bands now, when Green Day started up about a decade ago, not many bands were following the Ramones-esque 4 chord punk structure and now it’s widespread. Do you think that in perhaps 5 years or so we could be seeing a more Ska based mainstream?
TIM: I think so in the UK definitely, especially with [spunge] in the charts, thats a really good sign. Hopefully there’ll be some bands with different styles too, as Capdown show with the dub element. That’s one of the coolest things about Spankboy, everyone listens to different music. Some are loving the dub, some are into punk and that’s how we write what we do.
BEN: So what are you listening to at the moment?
TIM: All the Trojan and Reggae Dub sets. So good to chill out to!
BEN: Is there a way in for a dub influence for Spankboy?
TIM: There’s definitely an influence and because everyone likes different music we try to get a mix, but I don’t want to write a song where it’s like dub bit, then a hip hop bit with a punky chorus. We try to mix it all in so it’s not obvious.

BEN: The underground scene in the UK is stronger than it has been for the last 5 years in my opinion, and with the continued popularity of dancehall culture do you think that’ll help you, or merely prompt other bands to jump on the bandwagon?
TIM: I’m not sure, because you can tell when a band is heavily influenced by ska or dub because it’s evident within their music, but you also get a lot of punk bands who take a ska element into some songs, so you end up with skate punk with brass. That’s not a bad thing at all, it’s different.
BEN: Talking of influences, what did you listen to as a kid, what made you want to be in a band like this and write your own music?
TIM: I used to be really into rave and hardcore music! Then I started listening to Green Day, and NOFX and Rancid are massive influences too, even though that doesn’t really show in our music. ‘…And Out Come The Wolves’ is one of my favourite albums ever and I’d really like to do that, write an album for which everyone loves.

BEN: What do you guys do outside Spankboy? Is there a time for jobs or lives outside the band?
TIM: Yeah, until we did this tour we didn’t tour because of jobs, we had 3 people at Uni as well. Our drummer’s just finished his degree and now we’ve got 2 left, hence tour ending around September! We play every night so we don’t have much time to do anything else, and we also found that the tour just gets longer and longer.
BEN: Do you think that with putting a big emphasis on touring then having a break helps you, or do the breaks kinda make the people forget about Spankboy?
TIM: I think you need the time out on the road to learn what people like and see what elements of your set go down well, and it’s important not to leave it too long before touring again. I think we left it too late before, a lot of the promoters thought we’d given up! It’s been ok this time though.
BEN: Does your set change much night to night?
TIM: Yeah, we tailor it to the first couple of songs and then decide how it’s going to go.
BEN: What’s been your favourite place to play?
TIM: It’s really surprising, there’s a place in Taunton called Cafe Mambo which is just a cheesy nightclub which started doing music nights. We’ve played there 4 times and there weren’t that many people there, but once the guy phoned up and said ‘You gotta play, everyone wants you to play’ so we turned up. They had the fattest PA with really good sound, and by the time it got to our set it was so rammed we couldn’t get to the stage! We started playing and it was like a sweat-pit, like a swimming pool on the floor! Everyone knew our stuff as well.
BEN: With the rise of the internet and mp3s, do you think that it could be the scourge of the music industry or is the most important thing just getting your music heard?
TIM: At our stage it’s the most important thing to be heard. If someone buys our CD at a gig, we tell them to copy it for their mates. Anyway, some people check out your stuff on the net then buy your CDs.

BEN: Establishing a fan base is one of the hardest things for a new band, have you toured overseas yet?
TIM: Not yet, we’re going to Europe in March next year…
BEN: That’s gotta be scary…
TIM: I’m really looking forward to it! We don’t find it scary any more because we know we’re going to have a good time and hopefully the crowd will too. Anyway, if they don’t, we’re out of there in half an hour!
BEN: Is enjoying yourself onstage more important than being as tech as possible?
TIM: Yeah, because people know what level we’re at.
BEN: As the gig tonight showed, it’s not just a gig – there’s an element of putting on a show too. Does that take attention away from the music?
TIM: At our level it’s important to have a show and interact with the crowd as well as get the music through. Because we’re playing pubs rather than proper venues, if you just play your music, after 3 songs people will turn away and face the bar, so it’s a good way to meet people too!

BEN: Just to finish off, some quick questions…what’s your favourite film of all time?
TIM: ‘Dazed And Confused.’ Not many other people like that, because very little actually happens! And the Kevin Smith films too…
BEN: I just love ‘Clerks’ for the line “My girlfriend sucked 37 dicks!” “In a row?!”
TIM: Yeah, that and Mallrats are my favourites. Nothing happens in those either!
BEN: Favourite drink?
TIM: Tequila!
BEN: Oh dear…that’s evil stuff!
TIM: We used to love cider too. We named ‘Adventures In Blue Flash’ after White Lightning and put a big blue flash on the cover. Our funnel (Note: this involves pouring a pint of beer down some poor sod’s throat through a 1 inch wide tube) used to be used for downing one of those huge bottles of cider!
BEN: Carnage…favourite sandwich?
TIM: Hmmm…I’d go for a Ploughmans.
BEN: Dude, it’s all about the Cheese and Pickle!
TIM: Perhaps,. but a Ploughman’s is pretty similar…
BEN: Gareth or Will? I want an answer!
TIM: Oh man…who did ‘Light My Fire?’
BEN: Will I think…I’m not proud of knowing that!
TIM: The other one then! That was a travesty him murdering that song.
BEN: Another hard question…Terminator or Terminator 2?
TIM: Terminator, I’m going for the first one.
BEN: Ach, bad answer!
TIM: Haha, we getting a bad review now? It’s because I saw Terminator when I was younger, and it had such an impact on me. And Arnie…Arnie’s Arnie. No need for girls!
BEN: Dude, there’s a line and you crossed it!
TIM: OK, sorry, sorry…
BEN: Last question. There’s a fight…a gorilla versus a bear. Who wins?
TIM: The bear!
BEN: No chance…
TIM: Have you seen how strong bears are? They’d destroy a gorilla! The gorilla has more skill, but the bear would win for pure strength.
BEN: Nah, gorillas are 6ft wide, and built of solid muscle! They’d own a bear, no question!

And with that, the argument continued late into the night.


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Interview: Greywind [Reading 2016]

Interview: Arcane Roots [Reading 2016]

Interview: Trash Boat [Reading 2016]