Spectres are one of the symbolic bands among post-punk collectives of modern wave of the genre. They were never afraid of musical experiments, staying authentic in the same time, adding to their creations from beautiful melodies of electronic synths to old british anarcho-punk influences.
In the October, 2019 the band released out an EP called Provincial Wake, where it was noticeable they moved more to new-wave. It's interesting that for cover art was used a snapshot from soviet band Альянс video. On the new album Nostalgia, which is coming out on the 13th of March 2020, the old sound seems not to be back. For cover art was used an image of russian photograph.
What is the reason of the sound changing? Where are all these soviet art ideas came from? We decided to ask about everything Spectres' guitarist Zach Batalden.
Hello! You’ve got a new album coming very soon. Comparing to previous works and based on few tracks dropped on bandcamp it’s going to be less gloomy and have more «positive» sound. The singles still sounds great by the way. Is this a whole new album sound or just couple of experimental tracks? What did make you to change your sounding?
I think generally the singles are a good representation of what the album sounds like. We didn't really make a decision to change our sound, it just sort of happens over time. We all listen to a lot of music and after 15 years of making music I would hope that we wouldn't be writing the same songs over and over!
The cover of Provincial Wake is a snapshot from soviet band Альянс music video. How did the idea to use it came to mind? Why did you choose this girl among others in the video?
We have been pretty interested in Eastern European post punk/new wave/etc. for some time and really obsessed about that song and video in particular a few years ago. It's strange to feel so drawn to a song in a language that you can't understand but it's such a catch song and his vocals are really incredible. Anyway we thought that video was pretty amazing on a lot of levels, its like a strange time capsule showing a very specific moment in music that not a lot of people know about. It's sort of unintentionally funny at times, but also there's these very sincere looks on the faces of some of the crowd. Our lead singer Brian just really connected to the face of the girl and the look in her eye and he wanted to use the image in some way. We experimented with some different cover designs but the image of her face just kind of worked of us, and we like to acknowledge our interests so it just seemed like a cool way to pay homage to a great band as well as visually represent the feeling of the songs
The cover of the upcoming album also uses «classic Russian photograph» as mentioned on your bandcamp page. Who is the author of the photo and how did you find it? Second release with russian piece of art cover… Is it a coincidence? Or a hidden message?
It's actually the third time! our first 7" "Cold War" also has an old soviet photograph on the cover. We actually don't know who the author of the photograph is. It comes from an old soviet magazine called Prozhektor from 1928. We did our best to try and research who the photographer might have been but no credit is provided and it seems that most of the staff were killed during the purges and the magazine was discontinued. I personally have an interest in the artwork and photography of the early soviet era and felt that this image had a very dreamy quality to it. It is very difficult for all five of us to agree on artwork that we like but when I brought this image to the band everybody just connected with it and we felt that it matched that feeling we tried to create with the songs on Nostalgia.
Melancholy in your music - is it a lyrical image or is it how you feel, the way of life?
The music comes from the real feelings that we experience. We have always tried to approach the creative process of writing lyrics and music in a very sincere way. Some of the music has become softer or more pop influenced but we feel like the dynamic created between this sound and melancholy lyrics is very interesting.
How often do you play in Vancouver? What is Vancouver punk/music scene like? Could you advice some new/old notable bands to listen?
We play five or six local shows a year. We try not to play too often as we do not want to be a boring local band that everybody has seen a million times. I would say the Vancouver Punk/Music scene is medium sized. This is a very very expensive city to live and work and survive in which makes it less attractive for people trying to do anything creative outside of the commercial sphere. That being said our music community has persisted and we still have a fair number of active bands and venues.
Our album was produced by Jason Corbett who is the driving creative force behind the band Actors, and features guest vocals from Shannon Hemmet who plays in both Actors and Leathers. Brian (our lead singer) has a side project with his partner and our former bassist Nathan called Nouveaux so check out all of those bands. Also check out our friends Girlfriends and Boyfriends, The Moore, Lie, and no longer active bands Infidel, Night People and Petroleum Bi Products.
What’s the difference between touring Canada / USA / Europe?
You are treated the best in Europe. Pay is generally good, you drink for free at venues, good accommodations are almost always set up and people treat you with a high deal of respect. Canada is slightly better than the US in this regard, but generally in North America you can't count on having accommodation or food provided by promoters and you are often only given a few drinks. Touring is fun no matter where you go but it's definitely much easier in Europe. The other big difference is the distances that you cover. In Europe you can play a decent sized show ever few hours down the highway. Where we come from in western North America you often drive 6-12 hours between shows so it can feel a lot more exhausting and be more expensive in travel costs.
You have been playing together for 15 years. How often did the band lineup change? Have you ever experienced crisis moment when you wanted to stop? What did make you to continue?
We have had multiple line up changes, though Brian and I (Zach) have been the primary song writers so we have continued. I personally have not had a moment where I wanted to stop but there have been times where it felt like we might because of people leaving the band. We continue because making music is very fun and worthwhile thing to do and because we are all very good friends.
What is more important when you play in a punk band – friendship and good relationships or playing skills?
I guess it depends on what you are trying to do but friendship is the core of this band definitely. When Spectres started I could barely play a guitar at all and none of us would have qualified as good musicians or skilled songwriters. But we had fun and learned with time and I think we've made a catalog of music that we can be proud of and picked up a lot of skill along the way.
Where do you get an inspiration?
From listening to music and from the world around us. Life provides plenty of inspiration for sad songs!
How to stay punk when you are after 30?
Commit to what you believe in, make time for what is important to you and don't ever get caught in semantic discussions about what 'is' or 'isn't' punk.
What every band member doesn’t go out of home without? (what do you usually keep in your bag)
Well these questions are being answered by just one of us so I can't speak for the rest of the band but I always bring books to read and music to listen to when we hit the road.
Which of dead musicians would you like to ressurect if it were possible?
Adrian Borland, would love to have seen The Sound live.
And the last question that my friend told I must ask because it’s the most «post-punk question». Is Bela Lugosi dead?
Dead and buried I believe!