Interview: Spinn

Interview: Spinn

Words & Photos by Gary Lambert

There has been a tradition within British music circles, and indeed, Liverpool music circles for bands to be typecast as big in Japan. This has always been a disparaging statement suggesting that they have the ability to get success abroad where they would be seen as exotic, yet being so ordinary that they would not be able to get any success at home where they would be seen straight through. In fact, in the late seventies Liverpool had a sarcastic punk band named Big In Japan just to goad such bands. Well Spinn claim on their merchandise that they are Big in Japan*, but when they’re already selling out 600+ capacity venues in their home city before their first album is released, there’s no chance they’re unable to be successful.

And these lads are not ordinary either. Whether it is their musical ability to weave together the retro song structure of The La’s legendary album with the pure pop production that you would associate with The Lightning Seeds; or their ability to constantly engage with their fans; or just the hair of singer Johnny; everything that Spinn does seems to be designed to improve the chances of Spinn. It also seems to be great fun being in Spinn. Half an hour spent in their company takes you on a magical journey of laughter, anecdotes, and not the slightest hint of fear. When I met up with the four-piece they had just finished recording a green screen music video on the back of being in university that morning until 11am. And then they were going off to do a mini-tour of Europe a week or so later (which they will be home from by the time we go to press). Everything seems to be taken with a smile and straight in their step. So welcome to our Spinn-terview!

We started off with talking about the music video as it was fairly obvious that the lads were quite happy about doing it. “We’ve done a performance video in here before, but never one like this. We’ve had green screen effects and the wind machine going too”. At this point, I had to wonder if Andy’s mop top hair moved in the wind. Apparently one hair moved when it was at full blast, but I don’t quite believe it, “his hair is made out of plastic”. “The video is for our single Believe It or Not. We just pissed about with a green screen. We’ve done some album promo stuff too today”. This turned into a light hearted mocking session as one of the guys turned up in a green t-shirt underneath and green jumper so had to borrow clothes for the recording. The t-shirt came from H&M not Topman Sean was adamant he tell us.

The band have quite a traditional origin story. Andy and Johnny originally knew each other from being in the same school, and when Andy moved on to pastures new, he met up with Sean and continued playing music. When the band Johnny was in decided to call it a day, Sean and Andy decided that this was the time for them to step things up by bringing in Johnny to play alongside them. “We played with a couple of different line ups for a year or two…. Whilst dressed as mods. And then we found Louis”.

Louis is the Birmingham native drummer in the band, but when they met him he wasn’t on sticks. “We went to see a gig, and it turned out to be Louis’ last gig with that band. We didn’t even get to see his band play, we missed it”, Louis takes it up from there “I was the frontman in the band, but I wasn’t tall enough. I used to be a drummer before that, but then I delved in to being a frontman during a weird phase in my life. I don’t look back on it fondly. There was one song that I sung whilst shaking maracas. That was the point I lost it completely”. Some kids have six months of goth, others drop their sticks and grab a mic. “Being the drummer in Spinn has sorted my life out”.

Friday 3 May marks a landmark day in the life of Spinn as their eponymous debut album is released. I had been fortunately sent a copy of the album before the interview and it gave me the opportunity to tell the lads how impressive I think it is. It’s the sort of album that you’ll piss people off over, encouraging them constantly to get it into their lives. They’ll thank you in the end. The band are definitely confident about it too. In the words of Johnny, “I did an interview with Dork and I said to them, ‘it’s just the best album’”. This isn’t a “bigger than Jesus” type statement of bravado, but instead it shows how much the boys like their own music. Every one of them has a massive grin as they talk about the album and how pleased with it they are. “When we were writing it, we did get really into that scouse pop sound like The La’s and The Coral, so I’m glad that that influence has come through without it sounding too much like we’ve boxed ourselves off as a Liverpool band”. For me, this is a highly accurate piece of self-analysis because with the levels of swirling guitar that infiltrate the sound of Spinn, it could be very easy for them to head into the realms of Cosmic Scouse.

“We think and hope that the album will go down with people quite well, but we know that we’ve got to work it hard once it is released. We’ve got a big album launch tour to do as well”. This is a bit of an understatement. There’s hardly a HMV in the country they’re not turning up at in those few weeks after the Spinn: The Album hits the streets. “The album was recorded in the main in Studio B at Parr Street Studios. We had recorded the album separately rather than have a go at doing it live, but it doesn’t really work for us. A lot of our music is about being precise and it is difficult to get it lined up perfectly. At the minute, we’re a pop band making nice, clean, indie pop music. The future might be different, but right now we are not going to lie about who we are. Unless you’re into one of the hardcore scenes, we reckon that you’ll enjoy a Spinn album”.

The trip to Japan could not be missed off our chat. “We went in October. It was brilliant, but hard work. We only had one day off whilst we were there so we tried to squeeze in as many sights as possible like temples during that day. We’d been up for about eighteen hours after we’d added in Japan, so we all ended up arguing at a train station due to jetlag. Japan has got its shit together though. Even on the train there’s loads of room. Which for Johnny who is over six foot is important. We played a few different sized venues too when we were there. We played a 1,000-1,500 capacity venue at a festival, and played like a 300 capacity venue for our own headline show out there. That was mad because we had sold out that room practically so far away from home. People were queueing for ages afterwards to get autographs and stuff”.

The Japanese music fans are definitely well remembered by Spinn too. “It was crazy. We were getting recognised in shops nowhere near the venues. It was the maddest feeling. There was one time we were in a record shop and this guy froze when seeing us. We asked if he was okay. If we walk through Liverpool nobody stops because they recognise us, so for it to happen here caught us by surprise. The fans are super polite too. They don’t shout you, they just approach you and wait until they catch your eye. They even wait outside after gigs to give you boxes of cakes. They were following me around the supermarket after one of our gigs, asking me what I was going to get”. Johnny liked this as it removed the language barrier in the supermarket and he ended up with their Spinn fan’s recommended meal deal.

Liverpool and Tokyo are definitely on board. Where is going to be next to be caught up in the fun and sunshine that is Spinn? We will find out in May. Get down to HMV. They’re going to leave you all smiling.

*Note: The Spinn qualities listed on the t-shirt are as follows: Approachable lads; Wear jumpers; All about haircuts; And guitars; Mums love ’em; Big in Japan; The Millenial Beatles.

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