When Spires’ album appeared on my desk, almost a year ago now, it came as a shock. For sure the album packaging promised wonderful things with its appealing and intricate design but nothing really prepared you for the wonders within. An endlessly inventive work that incorporated all the best elements of Tool, pink Floyd, Opeth and many more it was progressive in the most genuine sense – ‘Spiral of ascension’ is simply a forward looking, intensely fascinating piece of work and in the intervening year it has found itself back on my player an endless number of times. Meanwhile the band has been working hard to promote the record – regular gigs, rehearsals and interviews with magazines and sites as the word slowly spread about the album have kept the band busy and now, with a Terrorizer sponsored tour kicking off in a matter of days (see dates below), the band are getting the chance to meet fans across the country face to face, an opportunity that should hardly be missed.
We were lucky enough to interview Spires when ‘Spirals of ascension’ was first released, but with the album finally finding its way onto a digital platform, we thought it a good opportunity to have a few words with Paul Sadler (vocalist and guitarist of the band) and see how the last year has been for a band whose debut album has been critically lauded (check our review here) in almost every quarter:
1. When last we spoke you’d just released the mighty fine ‘Spiral of Ascension’ album – what have you been doing in the period since that album’s release?
We’ve been really busy actually! We’ve mainly just been promoting the album in any way we can. As the initial release was not really an ‘official’ release as such, it still seems to be being treated as a ‘new’ album by the press, so we might as well keep plugging it as much as we can. We still find people getting into us now on the merits of that album, so we might as well keep the ball rolling and plug it as much as possible. Some highlights for us since we last spoke are getting approached to play 2 sets at Bloodstock 2011 (electric and acoustic), and going on a mini UK tour with London based Prog Metallers Talanas over the summer, both of which helped us reach a wider audience, which is exactly what we needed!
2. The album’s just been released digitally so hopefully it’ll have the chance to reach a wider audience – given the amount of effort you put into the album’s amazing artwork and packaging are you concerned that digital customers may miss out on that side of things?
Well obviously I think we’d all prefer people to buy the actual physical copy, not just for the artwork but also as it helps fund us as a band more directly, but as you say, anything to help us reach a wider audience can only be a good thing; we’d rather people know who we are, regardless of how or why. I’ll admit it has taken us a long time to get it released digitally (exactly a year in fact!), and I suppose it was because of these reservations, but we’re getting to the point now where there’s not that many physical copies of the album left, so I guess it allows us to hold off re-pressing the album a little longer!
3. Have you progressed any further in developing the follow up to the album or are you taking your time and working on promoting your current album for the time being?
A bit of both really. As I mentioned earlier, we’ve never really stopped promoting ‘Spiral…’, as people are still just discovering it to this day, but we’re certainly working on the follow up as we speak. It can be quite hard to divide your time up as a band effectively, as we always seem to have gigs to prepare for, which involves running through all the old songs so they don’t get rusty, but at the same time we’re devoting as much time as possible to getting some new songs together. So far we have 2 complete songs for the follow up, and are already playing one of them live, which seems to be going down really well. I don’t want to give too much away, but I feel the new material is a noticeable step up in the song-writing department, and we have become much more comfortable with each other’s instrumental capabilities, so we can write songs that really push ourselves as musicians, yet really sound convincing and solid.
4. You’ve received ubiquitously outstanding reviews for the album – were you surprised at all by the response you’ve received?
Definitely! Obviously we all thought it was a good album, we wouldn’t have released it otherwise, but the response from the press and fans has been better than we could have hoped for! And the crazy thing is that reviews are still coming in; as I mentioned earlier, it still gets treated as a new release in some circles, which is fairly bizarre for us. Obviously the only problem with the praise we’ve received is that it puts a fair amount of pressure on us to go one better for the next album, and I’m finding I’m becoming extremely perfectionist about quality control for any new material, but I guess that’s not an entirely bad thing!
5. Has the album’s critical acclaim seen a rise in the number of fans at your shows?
I think we’ve reached the stage over the last few months where we could credibly claim that we’ve actually got a nationwide (and surprisingly large overseas) following. Obviously in Manchester it has been this way for a while now, but it has taken a lot of hard work to get to the point where we can play in other parts of the country and expect people to actually turn up. I guess that’s why we decided to do the tour now; it seems like the right time, and hopefully can only gain us more attention.
6. You’re about to embark upon an eight-date tour, followed by a show in Leicester, what can fans expect from the Spires live show?
We always give it our all when it comes to live performances, and hopefully fans can be safe in the knowledge that they’ll get a tight and passionate performance, regardless of the venue or attendance. The good thing about this tour is that we’ll probably be playing slightly longer sets than usual for most of the shows, so we can really focus on bringing all the different aspects of Spires to the performance, rather than just playing the heavier material, and play some of the tracks that we don’t play as often. As I mentioned, we’ll also be playing some new material, and I think some fans are eager to hear where we have gone from ‘Spiral…’ Generally speaking we seem to have an ability to turn heads when playing live, and really make people listen to the music, which may not sound like much, but is rarer than you might think! I think this is due to the fact that there aren’t really that many bands on the UK scene doing what we’re doing right now, so we tend to stand out. It would also be rude not to mention our touring partners Incassum, who are a Manchester based female fronted metal band, with fairly progressive tendencies. They’re good friends of ours, and a really great live band, so I think we’re bringing a really good package on this tour, I’m sure each night will be one to remember.
7. What’s next for Spires after this tour?
I guess the focus has to be on the follow up album; it takes us quite a while to get songs to a state of completion, as they tend to be fairly intricate (as you’ve probably noticed!), so we need to step up and really get to work on new material. Other than that it’s just more of the same; gigging and promoting. We’re going to do a short run of acoustic shows in the new year, as well as a few Scottish and Irish dates (we’ve somehow never made it quite that far yet), and are even looking at doing some European dates. Hopefully we will be also doing some festivals next summer, both overseas and in the UK. So at the moment we’re showing no signs of slowing down, and why would we; we love what we’re doing!
‘Spiral of ascension’, the really rather amazing debut from Spires, is available now via Genepool Distribution and you can find out more about the band at their official sites listed below.
If you want to see the band live (and trust us, you do) the dates are:
Thurs Nov 24 Trillians Rock Bar Newcastle
Fri Nov 25 Bradford Rio Bradford
Sat Nov 26 The Ringside Hull
Sun Nov 27 The Yardbirds Rock Club Grimsby
Weds Nov 30 The Peel Kingston
Thurs Dec 1 Face Bar Reading
Fri Dec 2 The Old Bell Derby
Sun Dec 4 Alter Ego Manchester
Support for these shows comes from the mighty Incassum.
Spires will also play a one-off festival in Leicester
Sun Dec 11 The Musician Pub Leicester
With Winterfylleth, witchsorrow and many more…