Music interview: Spod is forever
We talk to the legendary Spod about making music and making videos:
Hey! Thanks for taking the time out to speak with us at Something You Said.
G’day, thanks for the e-chat!
Going from the rollicking, boisterous & bombastic stylings of Taste the Radness came your most recent offering Taste the Sadness. I know you are big fan of Beck and y0u wrote an article for The Music about a man who went from someone who could take a collection of sounds/words and shit out solid gold to a heartbroken and defeated man. Was this something you felt in the subdued and quieter approach of Taste The Sadness?
It definitely fuelled my interest in approaching my past and seeing if I could re-contextualise what I do. I find how people deal with their art or career as they evolve through time fascinating, and Beck is just a heartwrenching example of someone losing grip of what makes them special. I’m all for him making the change to a mature, inward looking style and was looking forward to it as Mutations was a masterpiece, but when Sea Change happened, it’s as if someone else took over his body, kept his talent but couldn’t hang onto his heart. The songs are great, but they just feel so cold, as has everything he’s done since. Just heartless.
Everything up to and including Mutations are some of the best albums ever made. God forbid someone doesn’t change or evolve, but you can only hope that as you grow you don’t lose your identity. I’m a huge Harry Nilsson fan, from Nilsson Schmilsson which was bought when I was young just because the cover is amazing, and then fell in love with his weird dark pop. With TTS I just wanted to take the idea of how ‘growing up’ would affect a party record / party guy, so I just wanted to see where I’d end up if I took the heart of Taste The Radness and left it in the suburbs a broken, unresolved mess.
As someone who works in many mediums, do you feel that the triangle between music, videography and design is equilateral?
Sure, It’s all the same to me, really. You just set a destination and try your hardest to get there however you can. Try and make a world that represents something that you find interesting, be it sonically or visually and just dive in. Sometimes it’s a mess, but most of the time you surprise yourself of where you can get to when you can subdue the agonising terror of failure.
Your work as a videographer/director is hugely impressive, having produced video clips for The Vines, The Laurels, Richard In Your Mind and Catcall. In terms of amazing video clips, what is the one video clip you wish you could have directed and why?
Oh thanks! I don’t know, do you mean a clip that’s been done that I wish I came up with or a song that I wish I could have made a clip for? I’ll address the first; The clip I wish I came up with as it exists and directed: Beastie Boys – Sabotage by Spike Jonze. I was obsessed with this when it came out, one of the clips that planted the seed of wanting to make music videos, for sure. Such a great homage to 70s cop movies, which I was obsessed with, and what a dang song!
I’d love to make a clip for Ween. That’s top of the list.
In creating video clips and working alongside different artists, do you really try and get in their head to develop the best clip possible as you see fit or largely work from a storyboard they have already provided?
I’ve been lucky that I’ve always had complete control of every clip I’ve done, getting to shoot the clip I dream up. If I can’t see a video in the first few listens to a song, then I know it’s either going to be a hard slog, or not going to happen. To be honest, it’s not worth it unless you have a strong connection to the song & complete control as you’re normally working with very small budgets, so you’re driving off passion more than anything. The hardest thing is balancing what you can afford to get help with vs what you need to do yourself. I tend to work mostly alone from coming up with the idea, to shooting and editing. I’d love the ability to get help from more skilled people but there’s never the budget for it, and I feel bad about asking people to help out for free which is probably my biggest weakness as a director. I also have no leverage in the advertising world which gets people a long way with getting access to top notch production crews. That said, if I could I’d just like to make completely solo videos like I did recently for Palms Bad Apple, you just need to be clear with yourself and the bad of what to expect. I did Candelabra for RIYM solo too, but that took about two months of post production for no money and that’s just not something you can do but if I didn’t need to make a living, that’s a dream life. Actually, I’ve made a lot of my clips completely alone. What a loser.
The personalities you work with are as varied as genres of music you have been involved with. Who have you worked with that has really taken you by surprise?
Craig Nichols. To be honest, I was expecting it to be a bit of a nightmare, or just to completely lose control, but he just got in and did it, no hassles. It’s always fun making clips for Richard In Your Mind & Donny Benet.
When it comes to your own performances, you are an absolute tornado of energy on stage (as your fitbit data can validate) with perhaps the longest boo-yah ever recorded. What acts did you catch when attending gigs that made you think.. fuck yeah, now that is how an act should perform on stage?
Definitely Beck from his Mellow Gold to Midnite Vultures era. From being a loose, wild no-rules performer that would barely hold it together to becoming a tiny, white James Brown, he was just an absolute mammoth of a performer who just went for it.
A lot of what drove me to perform this way was from what I wasn’t seeing. It was a time in live music (the 90s) where people were playing beautiful, heartfelt music and the crowds were sitting on the floor or not being involved at all. Whilst I enjoyed that, it felt like the band was condescending the audience, having in jokes to themselves and not involving people, or not being grateful to have the stage. That used to drive me nuts.
These days it’s more common than not that someone will jump into the crowd, but when I started it was a truly shocking turn of events and would terrify people. Some of my favourite memories are supporting Further at the Hopetoun and playing between bands when they’d be setting up just getting in people faces. Further would egg me on, and vice versa and our shows got pretty chaotic which was exciting. But yeah asides from being reactive, I loved 80s punk bands like Black Flag who were all just violent energy and confrontation so I felt like I was just mixing that with hip hop and making this weird sex punk stuff.
Your tongue in cheek bravado & chauvinistic lyrics are a trademark of your tracks but often have a biting reality to them, is this the best way to express derision towards the people and elements in society that deeply get under your skin?
I don’t know if it’s the best way, but it’s a way I tend to default to quite a lot. I usually let something bother me so much that I absorb it and reconstitute it into its most basic elements and reproduce it in a form that I feel shows it for what it really is while defusing it and making it amusing for me.
How related is the Spod persona we see on stage to the everyday Spod we see walking the streets of the inner west?
SPOD is a man-sized ghost that lives inside me all the time. It’s a magnifying glass on what I love and hate, and if I have or haven’t had my morning #coffee then who knows what’ll happen!
You recently played some shows in the States, how did you find the American experience and what social observations did you make about the American way of life?
Geeze, that’s a big one. People are richer and poorer than heck, there’s tonnes of great content to consume and cool things to do and top food to eat and crazy people to avoid.
Word association pop quiz, how would you describe the following:
– Campbelltown: learnt to ride a bike by pushing it to the top of a hill and sitting on it.
– Global warming: is real.
– The Kardashians: aren’t real.
– Time travel: sucks.
– Cats: rule.
– Spod: is forever.
Can we expect to see any additions to the range quality Spod line of merchandise… A summer Spod brew perhaps?
Merchandising is the new album sales, so I’m going to delve deeply into the physical market offering a range of hot products that the current kids of today shall enjoy and consume with pride and hope. You’ll be able to buy signed headshots from SPOD.COM.AU and that’s a promise.
What does the rest of 2016 have in store for you?
Finally finish my next album, I have a music video for myself I’ve been putting off making for a few years that will kick all that stuff off. Asides from that just bringin’ home the bacon, livin’ my life and bein’ a good man to my missus.
Thanks for your time!
Thank YOU xoxox
Interview and photgraphs by Courtney Dabb.