The Spangles released their debut album “Sweet FA” last year and are currently out on their “Everything Sweeter Than Everything Else” tour. We caught up with Ben and Polly from the band at their Newcastle show, as well as Ace Carlton who’s was standing in for an injured Ginna for a few dates.
How’s the little tour been going on?
Polly: Wicked so far and this is only the third day.
So do you put out on the third date?
Polly: We put out on the first date. We like to get it out of the way first, then we can concentrate on the proper relationship.
So how did the band come together?
Ben: Me and Ginna wanted to start something when Danny (McCormack) re-joined The Wildhearts (Ben, Ginna, Danny and JJ Watt were previously in the band the Main Grains together). We always wanted to do something kinda sixties-inspired, Pop-Punk (but I don’t mean what most people would think of as “Pop-Punk”), old school seventies Punk Rock. Ginna and Polly had been in a band before (Phluid) for about 13 years. Polly teched for the Main Grains and he came along on tour. Basically the three of us in the back of the van were like the happy little fucking elves having a great time while everyone else was miserable. So it was like “We should start a band, because we’re having so much more fun”… and so we did! It’s been absolutely beautiful ever since – up until Ginna did his back in.
Polly: Yeah, about a month ago, Ginna did his back in so we gave Mr. (Ace) Carlton a call, who plays with Matty Cassidy.
Last year we toured with Matty Cassidy Band as The Spangles and we had such a fucking good time so we thought we’d have a bit of Ace. So he turned up last Wednesday night and learnt all the songs.
Well… I say “learnt” ... you’ll see tonight! (laughs)
The first album Sweet FA came out last year and it got loads of good reviews. How was it recording with Dave Draper?
Ben: It was amazing. The Main Grains did something with Dave prior so we knew how good he was, he’s always fun to work with so we knew it had to be him. He’s a great Pop producer. We took him some basic 3-chord Punk Rock songs and everything else on the album, apart from the drums, bass and rhythm guitar, was all his ideas pretty much, a lot of the vocal harmonies and the little guitar bits. He knows how to make an album sound good.
Polly: and he’s fast!
Ben: So fast, and fun. Everything gets done properly and you have the best time doing it.
Polly: And he also always starts at 9 and finishes at 6 every day. So you’re not doing any three o’clock in the morning sessions or anything like that. It’s almost like having a job! We were in a little B&B and the alarm would go off after 7. We’d get up, have a shower, go down and have a hot breakfast and then “right, we’re all off to clock in again”. Then 6 o’clock, hats off, “right lads, we’ll go down the pub”.
It came together really fast as well, didn’t it?
Ben: Super quick. What normally happens is: you get together; you write some songs; you rehearse… and then you book a gig in three months’ time and you get bored waiting around. You book studio time and wait half a year for that because the studio’s booked up. No - we wrote some songs in the first couple of days, and I decided to book a gig for July.
It was a bit like: “Ben no, that’s only seven weeks away!” But I knew we’d do it, and it would be fine. We did it. It was a bit ropey, but it was a good first gig…
Polly: Was that the one where we were reviewed saying that they’d be surprised if we’d actually have met each other?
Ben: Yeah! I think we’d got maybe 9 or 10 songs finished as a band. So we decided: “Alright, let’s get some studio time”, and Dave was like “I’m free in November” and that was it. “Fuck it, we’ve got three months to get everything sorted!” It was a case of “let’s just fucking do it, let’s book stuff then we’ve paid a deposit so we’ve got to do it”. It worked well, I think. We started in April and we had an album in November!
Polly: It was only supposed to be a fuck about.
Ben: Yeah, it was supposed to be a bit of a laugh, but it’s ended up being great. It’s so much fun
So obviously The Main Grains folded because Danny’s gone back to The WIldhearts, so Ben, this is your main gig now, and you’re also working with Ryan Hamilton and it seems any band who needs a guitarist…
Polly: Warner Hodges as well!
Ben: Yeah, just trying to get my finger in as many pies as possible. I want to quit my job basically. It’s fucking hard to make a living doing this, and I’m clawing my way up slowly.
Polly: And now we’re all encouraging Ace to do the same.
Ben: (To Ace) Yeah, you need to join 17 bands!
You did loads of gigs last year – what was the best?
Polly: We had a really good time at Call Of The Wild. That’s the one with the picture of me and you (Ben) hugging on stage, so that must have been quite good.
I don’t think we’ve had a bad gig. We’ve not had any catastrophic horribleness. The first gig we did with Ace could have gone wrong, but it was just a good laugh in Harrogate.
Ben: Even if the gig’s not 100%, because we’re all actually mates, that’s why we have so much fucking fun. If it’s a bit of a shit gig, just turn it into a night out! We just get a bit more pissed and then it doesn’t matter. The gig was alright, we did good, but we’re still having a great time.
Polly: Croydon Rocks was the one where we hadn’t practised for a month…
Ben: I’d been on tour for five weeks so we couldn’t rehearse…
Polly: There were actually audible moments where Ginna goes “How does this start again?” We got another review like “They look like they’re just winging it, but they seem to be having a really good time, so…”
Ben: That was a cracking day as well…
Polly: Yeah it was, we got really good reviews and stuff.
I’ve never seen a bad review of you guys yet…
Polly: No, we just have a nice time.
Ben: It’s just a laugh, it’s fun. It’s what it should be: good catchy songs, have a laugh. Someone said last night, in Edinburgh that they could tell that we were having a good time on stage, and it made it so much easier for them to have a good time. I haven’t got time to stand around pretending to be cool, Blue Steel-ing it up.
Polly: That’s mine and Ace’s job.
What’s coming up next, after the tour?
Polly (pointing at Ben): Well he’s got Warner-shit going on…
Ben: Yeah I’m away for all of May and a big chunk of June. I think we’re going to try to do something towards the end of April, if we can get it booked. We’re hopefully doing something in November, and in the meantime, we’ll try and get the album together. Then, hopefully, by the end of the November tour, which will be a co-headline. We can’t say who yet because it’s not finalised. We should have the funds ourselves from going out and gigging and penny pinching to fund the album ourselves. Well we’ll probably do a pre-order.
Just not through Pledge Music…
Ben: We got stung last time, we didn’t get paid.
That must have really hurt.
Polly: It’s such a shame because it was such a fantastic platform, and it was just fucked up by greed.
The Idol Dead (Polly’s other band) used them a couple of times…
Polly: Yeah, we had a big fantastic one.
What about The Main Grains?
Ben: No, we were going to. I’d bought countless albums through Pledge, it was a great format.
Polly: Has Matty?
Ace: Yeah I think he did a few times.
Polly: Dogs D’Amour too, they got stung big time, with distribution stuff. It’s a shame, but we’ll see… we’ll have to go back to the old way of doing it. Recording it in a shed on a fucking C90.
Go for C60, you can pick them up a lot cheaper.
Polly: you can’t get a full album on a C60 though. Ace has got no idea what we’re talking about.
Ace: Yeah, I’m just laughing along pretending I know.
It’s alright, we’ll sit down afterwards and explain – we’ve got diagrams and everything.
Polly (to Ace): Do you need to plug any Matty stuff while we’re here?
Ace: Yeah, it’s great, it’s the best thing ever, honestly, buy it all and come and see all the gigs.
When is Matty’s new stuff due?
Ace: Soon, very very soon – That’s brewing in the pot. But he’s his own worst enemy and he needs to choose what songs are going where. And when it does it’ll be fucking mint!
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Interview - Scott Hamilton
Photo - Neil Vary Gig Photography