With Guitars take you back to 1996, the band in question have just finished recording the yet to be released ‘Spiders’ album and following the success of ‘Neighbourhood’ and ‘Female Od The Species’ landed a UK Tour support with Dodgy, leave it to front men Tommy Scott and Jamie Murphy to fill in all the gaps, Esther Swales is your guide
Over the last two years top quality British bans have finally re-emerged with such a pace, that it’s startling; all very pleasing. The essential components of a vibrant music scene; inventive, stirring music played by bands unashamed by their role as entertainers are everywhere once more. If evidence were needed that the musical climate is no longer suffocated by the strait-jacket of constantly categorising music into ‘alternative’ and ‘commercial’ then consider the success of Space’s brilliant single ‘Female Of The Species’. A few years this mad Scousers hybrid of a Sinatra-esque soundtrack, with vibraphone, would have been considered too weird for Radio 1 play; and to indefinable for a music press obsessed by pigeon-holing and credibility. Fast forward three years and crap like credibility blessedly, become irrelevant and ‘Female Of The Species’ is a gold selling single of the year candidate. Chatting to Tommy and Jamie from the North West band they reveal themselves to be excited by their success but acutely aware of their origins Jamie states unequivocally that he relates it to one man – “Chris Evans”.
“For me every song is written as if it is a film…” Tommy Scott
“With his Big Breakfast Show and TFI Friday, Chris Evans now has the power to make or break any act that he takes a liking to. He is a powerful man. You just have to look at the way he broke Mike Flowers, to realise that he probably has six million people in his pocket. We were lucky because he heard our first single ‘Neighbourhood’, really liked it. He was disappointed when it got banned because he thought it should have been a hit. (It was taken off the playlist because the lyrical reference to serial killers coincided with the Dunblane tragedy.) So then he heard ‘Female Of The Species’ and got right behind it.”
While Evans is currently experienced a semi-backlash he has at least led the charge towards convincing Radio 1 bosses that playing the likes of Black Grape and Space would not repel listeners. Tommy the veteran of “a stupid amount of bands” aggress adding “what I most like about the music scene at the moment is that finally a lot of the boundaries are collapsing. I have always hated the snobbery of that ghetto thing where only one type of an audience can listen to you. We want grannies and everyone whistling our songs and I’m really proud we’ve been getting that. To me that’s what music is all about. We can still keep our credibility because we’re not bland, our lyrics are weird and we’re not interested in sounding like anyone else at the moment. So we are still getting it across while doing our own thing; that is the fundamental thing to making music you’re happy with.” Tommy nods happily when OI say that ‘Female Of The Species’ sounds like a weird Sinatra song saying that the origins of the song lied in his Dad’s liking for Cole Porter.
“’Female Of The Species’ I wrote for my Dad. He died about a year and a half ago, what I remember hated everything I ever did. He would sit and hear what I was doing and say “That’s crap that is lad, why don’t you write some decent tunes?” He was into Sinatra and Cole Porte. Music like that; I always wanted to write a song that me Dad would like and that’s what ‘Female Of The Species’ was.”
Tommy also smiles when I refer to the rather epic sweep of the song bring reminiscent of a John Barry soundtrack.
“Well for ‘Female…’ I got all the lyrics off B-movies that I found in a film book. But that is typical because I’m not that interested by other people’s music, I’ve always been into films and cartoons, that is where I get all my songs from. For me every song is written as if it is a film, everything got to have a story not just be words or girl-boy dong. In my head it is a proper film, I can envisage a plot with a beginning and an end.”
Jamie and Tommy are an interesting contrast to each other, Tommy’ quiet manner and dry laconic humour making him the opposite of Jamie whose manic energy, humour and Adidas bottoms tag him as a typical friendly Scousers. Having just completed recording their debut album ‘Spiders’, Jamie forcefully asserts that Space do not have a standard sound.
“What we’re most proud of is that every single song sounds different. I don’t mean that we contrive all these different styles but it’s just the way that our imagination works. I’m into that much different stuff that I couldn’t stick to just one style because it would bore me so much. I mean you get some bands who’ve five albums and they all sound the same What’s the f**king point of that man? That’s the way that we see it. You got to get value for money haven’t you?”
Tommy adds “I would hate to be pigeon-holed and honestly I don’t think we can be. The time we start writing songs that are in the same vein all the time, we will spilt up. Simple as that, When I know that we are not doing anything different anymore, I just wouldn’t want to be in the band. I take the approach that if you’ve got more subject matter on your lyrics then you’re bound to write in different styles because the song will demand a certain vibe.”
Watching the band on stage later as support act to Dodgy their belief in their diversity is justified the band blend funk, rock and trop hop with stick in the mind choruses to some effect. While new tracks were somewhat sprawling and incoherent the overall set was both daring and inventive. ‘Spiders’ needless to say to say be worthy of some attention on its release in September. Jamie approaches me after the gig and challenges me as to whether they were as unpredictable as he guaranteed. As I nod he adds “That’s the thing not just part of the NME crew The music I’m still listening to is stuff like Prodigy, Chemical Brothers, Orbital and Leftfield – even though we sound nothing like techno that’s the stuff that really amazes me. I’d rather listen to that than some boring shitty arsed guitar music like Sleeper. They have to be the worst band to come off the face of the earth. The idea of ending up lot terrifies me For me, dance music is the most stirring stuff about, and whoever said dance music has got no soul is stupid.”
Tommy joins him and is instantly surrounded by ‘ladeez’ interested in proving to him they are capable of the witchcraft to cause him shock and indeed horror. He’s quietly embarrassed and turns to me while signing another autograph and whispers “You know I can’t take all this seriously. We can’t believe four scruffy gits like us have got where we have. You don’t think it can happen because your paranoid, I mean they are just our songs. I mean can’t see why someone would like them, I just sit and write in the house, I don’t ever think anyone going to be interested.” He may have to adjust this view because on tonight’s form Space may be very big indeed.