We should all be paying more attention to what goes on in Manchester. I know I’ve been guilty of ignoring that city to the north of London, but we’re all missing out because that’s where Spring King is from. The band released their debut album Tell Me If You Like To in June, and it’s been getting quite a bit of airplay. If you’re in the UK, you can catch them on tour this fall. In addition to sounding totally ass-kicking, their drummer is also their lead singer. That alone is worth the price of admission.
ATYPICAL SOUNDS got to trade some quality emails with Tarek Musa, Pete Darlington, and James Green, and find out how they’re preparing to tour, and what’s good in Manchester.
I’ve been to London but never Manchester. Do you think people are missing out on anything by not visiting?
James: I think Manchester has a great atmosphere around it, the people are much more welcoming on the whole and there’s a lot of amazing culture that you wouldn’t necessarily find in London, from the Northern Quarter bars and restaurants to places like the Whitworth Art Gallery and areas a bit further afield like Chorlton and Didsbury. It does rain a lot more though…
What are your favorite venues in Manchester for seeing live music?
James: The Deaf Institute has always held a soft spot for me since I worked there, otherwise Soup Kitchen hosts some of the best small shows and club nights in the city and The Castle is an incredible pub and amazing venue for more DIY acts. I’ve seen some awe-inspiring shows at The Roadhouse, but it shut down recently which was devastating.
Are there any good record stores over there?
Pete: Piccadilly Records is my favorite record shop in Manchester. I grew up in a town outside of the city called Macclesfield. Almost every weekend I would go into town and pick up a CD from Piccadilly. So many of the records I bought there changed my life! They have a really varied selection, from underground US releases to Tropicalia to the latest pop stuff. You have to go there if you visit the city.
James: There’s also an amazing dance music specialist called Eastern Bloc – the guys in there are all top level DJs and really know their stuff, and are always more than happy to help you out with recommendations!
Is there anything you learned while recording Tell Me If You Like To that you wish you had known prior to recording?
James: I think we had a pretty good idea of what we wanted to achieve before we went into the studio, although we’d probably like to plan a little bit more before we start on the next record – we wrote quite a lot as we were going along when recording TMIYLT, and it’d be nice to start with a few more songs fully fleshed out next time around.
Your Facebook page says you don’t have a record label. I’m a little surprised, since the band seems to be doing so well. Is there a reason you’re not signed?
Tarek, you’re the drummer and also the lead singer. I feel like it would be more difficult to drum and sing at the same time than it would be to sing and play a different instrument (like guitar). Is that true?
Tarek: I only started singing and drumming at the same time when we started this band. It was definitely a real challenge at first. Now it’s become second nature though, so I’m not sure!
You have a fairly extensive tour coming up in the autumn. Do you need to prepare mentally for something like that?
Pete: Touring can be tough mentally as well as physically. When I’m not on the road I try and eat as much home cooked food as possible, sleep in late, meditate and read. It’s important to start the tour feeling as rested as you can. Besides that, we tend to do a few serious days of rehearsal just before the tour starts to make sure we’re feeling confident about the set.
What do you do to kill time on the road?
Pete: I play a lot of video games and try to read as much as I can. Passing time isn’t too hard when you’re on the road with your friends. There’s always something to argue about and discuss.
James: Honestly I’ve never heard of them, but I’m just flicking through some of their back catalog whilst typing this and absolutely loving it! Thekla is one of our favorite venues, we played there with a friend’s band called Spector and also recently at Dot to Dot Festival and it was INCREDIBLE – horridly sweaty and just perfect!
Will you be coming to New York any time soon?
Pete: No plans at the moment, but I’d love to go back. We played CMJ a couple of years ago and that was a lot of fun.
James: CMJ and SXSW last year were two incredible experiences for us, both personally and as a band, so we’re praying we’ll have the chance to come back!