When you’re faced with an album of the quality of ‘Spiral of ascension’, particularly when that album happens to be a band’s debut, then it’d be exceptionally foolish not to sit up and take notice. Spires have crafted a work that is by turns beautiful and brutal as well as jaw-droppingly intricate and inventive. Drawing upon inspiration from all manner of sources, Spires’ greatest success is integrating those influences within their framework in a manner that makes the end result thrillingly unique and exciting.
Having spent a week in the company of the album, we were lucky enough to get hold of Spires main-man Paul Sadler and ask him a few questions about the formation of a band who certainly deserve to become a household name and the writing of an album that belies the short life-span of the band and suggests remarkable things to come.
- How and when did Spires form?
The band has been around as a concept for quite a few years now, I think the first few tunes were written back in 2005. I’ve known Paul C (guitar) for a long time, as we’re both from the same neck of the woods (Wakefield/Leeds), so I asked if he’d hop on board. Al then joined up on bass maybe 6 months later, but it wasn’t until early 2008 that we finally settled on Chris on the drums, and Paul C moved over to Manchester to concentrate on the band. Up until that point practicing mainly revolved around getting drunk and having a laugh, but I suppose that’s when we really started to get our arses in gear!
- Your members have all been involved in other projects – how did your experiences shape the development of Spires?
I think it always helps to have experienced band members, as people often don’t realise how much effort, time and money it takes to be in a serious band. I also think having been in other projects in the past has allowed us to realise that Spires is the one thing we’ve all wanted to do really, almost as if everything else has been leading up to this. Because of that, we’ve all been prepared to dive in head first and give it our all, even if it drives you insane at times!
- In the press sheet the band are described as “initially the brainchild of… Paul Sadler” – is Spires, then, a solo project that has taken on a life of its own?
I suppose you could call it that. I was never really happy writing music with other people, as I always felt for this kind of music that’s going to lead to a compromise. The beauty of songs like Spiral of Ascension and Broken Hourglass (the long sprawling ones) is that they represent one person’s vision, that has been conceived, shaped, moulded and agonised over. However, as we’ve become more comfortable as a band the writing process has become more organic. The Infinite Descent was the first time me and Paul C really collaborated on a song, and it works beautifully, as Paul is a great riff writer, and I suppose my main skill is arranging and structuring songs. The writing process definitely seems to be moving more in this direction, which is great.
- It sounds like you had a lot of problems, in particular, with finding the right drummer – what were the issues there?
Well, I think you only need to listen to the drums on the album to realise they’re bloomin’ difficult! So for a completely unestablished band to find a drummer to pull that kind of stuff off is always going to be a bit of a nightmare. I think we went through maybe 4 potential drummers before finally finding Chris, some who were just not very good, and some who didn’t seem like they’d be able to commit. Even when we found Chris, he still needed to improve on certain elements of his playing, but you could tell the enthusiasm and willingness to put in the effort was there, and that’s paid off, as you can hopefully hear! He has come on an amazing amount in a couple of years.
- What artists would you consider to be direct influences on the sound of Spires?
Many! It’s always a tough question to answer, because I think artists often inspire you on a subconscious level, without you being aware of it. I’d say there’re also different forms of influence, as some artists really inspired my love of music in general, but you’d be hard pressed to pick out the influence within Spires. On a more direct level, I suppose the main influences you can hear in Spires would be Opeth, Emperor, Morbid Angel, Tool, Mastodon Cynic and Soundgarden. If there’s a common theme there, I guess it’s that they’re all originators, and have a tendency towards experimentalism that I love.
- What about lyrical influences?
Lyrically, the main theme running through the album is religion. It is always something that’s baffled, yet fascinated me, and I guess that’s why most of the songs seem to be preoccupied with ideas such as the afterlife, the dangers of blind faith and hatred and violence in the name of religion. Nature is also a topic I love to write about, although I think this ties into the religious theme as well. For example, Symmetry is about appreciating the small, beautiful things around us every day, that are so often missed, or trivialised in the name of searching for more ‘spiritual’ truths. Not enough space here though, rant over!
- Your album, Spiral of ascension’ has garnered a lot of acclaim – you must be very pleased with the result?
It’s something we’re all really proud of, and the fact that other people seem to love it is great. I think especially with this kind of music, there’s always a part of your brain that worries about whether you’re overly self indulgent, and satisfying your own ego. So to receive some great words of praise is almost a relief, it justifies the time and effort that you put into the music.
- Was it a difficult album to record? How long did it take?
I guess it was not so much difficult as time consuming. The thing with recording is that if you get it wrong at any one stage, the whole product can suffer for it, so you have to be absolutely meticulous with the recording process. As its self produced, that’s some fairly high stress levels, especially when the material has become so engrained in your life, it’s almost like having a baby! Overall, from start to finish, the whole recording and mixing process happened over about 6 months, although as we’re all in full time work, it was done fairly sporadically, i.e. drums this week, bass a few weeks later etc.
- The artwork is just one of the many standout elements of the record – how did you find the right person for the job and to what extent was the band involved in the design?
Well, the artwork was actually done by my girlfriend, Daniella Morrison. I knew she’s a great artist (I would say that!), so it wasn’t really difficult to find the right person. Plus my life wouldn’t be worth living if we’d gone with someone else! We had various concepts for the artwork as a band, but she more or less took the reigns on the actual realisation of this, and I think it’s a really beautiful, organic looking album because she was allowed to just do what she felt was right for the music.
- Can we expect some kind of UK tour in support of the album?
Hopefully! We play fairly regularly in the North, but it’d be great to play all over the country, it’s just the organisational side of things that needs sorting, as well as finding the time. We’ll have to see what happens, but I’d certainly say a tour is on the cards for next year.
- Your press sheet promises another album soon – do you already have ideas coming together for that?
Hah, might have been fibbing a bit there, it takes us a long time to get songs together and rehearsed thoroughly enough! We have started writing some songs for the next album, but it’s currently mainly jumbled collections of riffs, that need filtering and organising. Ask me in a few years!
- What are your ambitions for the future?
Take over the world, ala Pinky and the Brain! Failing that, we just want to carry on writing and gigging as much as we can, anything else is a bonus. Being overly ambitious often results in watered down, compromised music, a commercialised image and inflated ego. At the end of the day we all do this because we love it, so whatever the future holds, we’ll still be doing it for the right reasons.