Music interview: Spectres Of Love
Spectres Of Love are a trio brought together by a shared lust for the primordial swamp and garage rock, doo wop and 60s pop. The band features Mikelangelo (Black Sea Gentlemen, Tin Star) on lead vocals and electric guitar; Michaela (El Dinero) on bass & vocals and AJ True (Zombie Ghost Train) on drums & vocals. We spoke to Mikelangelo about their new single, Man Cave, amongst other things:
Man Cave’s sprawling, sexy and dirty rumblings has hints of Iggy Pop, Morphine and Kirin J Callinan. Were there any particular artists you were listening to in and around the time of writing and recording that influenced the nature of the track?
That’s good company to be keeping, love all those artists. I listened to the first two Stooges albums a lot as a teenager, and Iggy’s voice and the sound of the band drove me wild. Some of those early influences will always stick with me. I wrote Man Cave a few years ago. I knew it was a good one, and so I brought it to Spectres Of Love, along with a bunch of new tunes, and they nailed it straight away.
Having special guest Jon Creenaune on saxophone was a masterstroke, did you approach Jon with a set sound in mind or was he free to carve out his own contribution?
That’s Jon’s sound through and through. He knows how to play rock’n’roll saxophone like no one else I know. Jon is all about that growling sound and not too playing many notes. He’s got a great ear and his solos are really damn exciting! He and I both agree that The Sonics ‘Have Love Will Travel’ has the best sax solo in history, and he channelled some of that vibe in Man Cave.
You worked with engineer Geoff Lee (Boy and Bear, Frenzal Rhomb) and mixer Myles Mumford (Kim Salmon, Rich Davies). What did Geoff and Myles bring to the table that shines through on this project?
Spectres Of Love did our first few rehearsals at Zen Studios in Sydney, and when I found out they had a recording studio in the same building, it seemed the right place to record some demos. Geoff is the in-house engineer at Zen, we only met him the day of recording, it was a blind date. He’s a quiet achiever, we recorded four songs in as many hours and were thrilled with the results, so we’ve decided to release them, Man Cave being our first single. I’ve worked on a number of projects with Myles Mumford and we have the kind of relaxed trust that makes for fun in the studio. Myles is even more eclectic than me, working in classical and avant-garde music, through to rock and folk and beyond. He’s got broad taste and an exploratory bent, which I like in a collaborator.
Having all played in various other outfits, what’s makes this collective project so special?
While I love playing solo, and touring with my band of 16 years The Black Sea Gentlemen, I’ve been itching to put together a rock’n’roll band again. I write a lot of songs that don’t fit with the more acoustic instrumentation of my other projects, so it’s been fun to dust off my electric guitar and work with a cranking rhythm section. I met our drummer AJ True back in 2006 when he was a member of Zombie Ghost Train. He’s one of the sweetest guys I’ve ever met and we became friends and worked on a project together back in 2008 called The Honeymoon Suite. The band name, Spectres Of Love, actually dates back to then but we didn’t really get to carry that to fruition. AJ and I have always talked about doing something together again. He has been immersed in composing for film and television for a while, so I think he loves being back behind the kit for a change of pace. I met Michaela, our bass player, when I guested with her surf band El Dinero in Sydney a year ago. We hit it off straight away and did a string of shows. I suggested we start a group and work on some of my new tunes and some songs that I’ve had sitting in the vault, waiting for their turn. All three of us love delving into swamp, garage and 60s pop sounds, mixed with my love of dreamy doo wop and wild gospel rock’n’roll, it’s an exciting combo.
Lyrically and musically you are attracted to the social underbelly which always makes for an interesting sound and appraisal of the social landscape. How much is fiction and how much is fact?
Ha ha, good question! For me, reality and fantasy are always in some kind of dialogue, the art lies somewhere between the mundane and the mythical. Whatever I see, hear or experience goes in, and then comes out after going through some kind of process of creative digestion. The first swag of songs with Spectres Of Love delve into some dark places, but in a fun and exciting way. The world can be a scary place, but if we choose to see beauty, wonder and humour in the dark, rather than writing it off as something negative, there’s a lot more scope to life. One of our newest songs is called Dark Heart, and it explores that idea, going deep down a darkened tunnel to find something that shines in the shadows.
You will be playing some shows to promote the new single, any favourite places you like to visit when you get deep, down and dirty?
This is the first tour for the band, so we’re super excited. As well as shows in Melbourne and Canberra, we’re playing two big outdoor shows in Hyde Park for the opening weekend of Sydney Festival in January, which will be amazing. When I’m in Sydney, I stay in Potts Point, so Kings Cross is always a destination, whether by accident or intent. I’ve been chronicling some of the infamous places in the Cross, cos I’m not sure how much longer the strip will survive, so I may have to do some more research…
When can we expect to hear the full player?
We’re planning to have an album out in the first half of next year, which is pretty good for a band that played our first show on Halloween this year. I’m inspired by the creative inspiration and work ethic of 60s bands that put out an LP every six months. Two albums in a year, now that’d make me happy!
Spectres Of Love launch their single at the following venues:
Friday 9th December – The Polish Club, 38 David Street, Turner, Canberra
Tickets on sale now via venue website : $25 full, $20 concession/$15 Canberra Musicians Club discount
Doors : 7.30pm, show 8pm
Friday 23rd December – The Spotted Mallard, 314 Sydney Rd, Brunswick
Pre-sales : $20 + BF via Moshtix or $25 on door if available
Doors : 6pm, show 9pm
For more information go to: www.facebook.com/spectresoflove
Interview by Courtney Dabb.