Audiences are wrapping their arms around Manchester quintet Spokes as their orchestral approach to indie is likened to artists such as Sigur Ros and Arcade Fire. Liam Morley, guitarist and one of Spokes' three vocalists, talks to The List about their new label, album re-release and the church that inspires them as the band prepares for a UK tour.
What's your story?
I met Owain when we were doing music at university in Preston, we started out recording songs on my computer. We imagined this big sound that we weren’t really getting, that’s when we decided to put the band together. We’ve all known each other and been friends for a long time so it’s been really natural process.
To be cliché, describe your music!
It’s difficult to answer that one without reverting to clichés again. A lot of people describe us as a shoe-gaze band primarily but since that’s as a derogatory term. I’m probably going to wish I hadn’t said it. I suppose it’s down to the fact that we tend to mix an influence of 60s pop music and folk with much noisier and drone elements. People are often surprised that there’s only five of us, they’re convinced it sounds like there’s more people playing. The place we hole up to write and rehearse has a lot to do with it I think, it’s just got a big, warm reverb that we feed off. It’s an old building that connects on to a church and although we’re not religious people it’s hard not to be affected by the atmosphere that brings.
Who do you hate being musically compared to?
When comparing us to Hope Of The States once someone called us Spokes Of The States, that was pretty annoying, although it probably just made them sound silly really. We know that people have to make comparisons so we try not to be too bothered by them.
The Untitled Demo on your MySpace page is just splendid. Is that new?
Thanks very much! It’s very new yes, as you can tell from the title. Since the last record we’ve shifted to using a group vocal sound which features heavily in that song. We used to be purely instrumental and that song’s so different that we thought it best to post that as a kind of warning. It sounds really different to us and we wanted to clue people in to what we’ve been doing.
You're re-releasing People like People like You. How did you get snatched up by Ninja Tune Records?
One of the guys in their office who bought our record was playing it to Peter Quicke who does the A&R for Ninja Tune and it turns out he liked it enough to come and see us play. Fortunately the show went really well and they offered a deal immediately after. Like most people we own a lot of records from that label so we were really happy to sign. We originally put out People Like People Like You ourselves with very little money so we’re really glad more people will be able to hear it now.
Will it be pressed and pretty and for sale by the 20 March gig?
It’ll be released on 6 April and should be out in the US shortly after that. While we’re on tour we’ll be selling our original limited edition pressing. It’s going to be exciting to see the counter version in shops and everything.
Looking forward to heading up to Scotland?
Ruth and Johnny have a lot of family in Scotland so it’s just like going home for them - we all love it. I think audiences can tell when you genuinely want to be there and that leads to a great response. Our equipment blows up without fail every time we go to Glasgow so we’ve got something to prove next time. Edinburgh’s been good to us though so we’re just going to play the best show we can and try not to break anything!
What was the last gig you went to?
I don’t actually get to go to many unless we’re playing it these days but I saw Silver Apples not long ago and he was amazing. I also met Peter Broderick when he played in Manchester last which was great. If you don’t know his name yet then you will do soon.
Spokes play Sneaky Pete’s, Edinburgh Fri 20 Mar and Halt Bar, Glasgow Sat 21 Mar.