Interview: Spotlight Kid

Photos: Mat Gallagher
Interview: Paul Klotschkow
Saturday 18 June 2011
reading time: min, words

Taking in members from Six By Seven, Bent, Model Morning and The Kull, Spotlight Kid are about to drop a new LP and play at Glastonbury. And, according to drummer Chris Heath and guitarist Rob McCleary, they’re the cockroaches of the Nottingham music scene...


How did the band get together?
Rob: Me and Chris Moore, our guitarist, have a friend in Madrid, so we went over for a few days. And on the same weekend we were there Chris’s old band were playing a gig so we went along.
Chris: It was in a pole dancing club and brothel, and also an arts cinema. They were showing this film before we played about this porn star who only had one foot, and she’d use her stump... If anyone knows where to get this film from, by the way, I would like to know.
Rob: After the gig we went to the pub, and it was the first time that me and Chris had properly really chatted, and we really got on.

The band has a specific sound and style; you get bundled in with the ‘nu-gaze’ scene...
Chris: You can call us shoegaze – we don’t mind. I like to think that we are a little bit more ambitious than most shoegaze bands, though. And you can hear the vocals, which is a challenge that we want to achieve. Bands like Spiritualized create that amazing blanket of sound, and if you can put a song in there you are on to a winner.
Rob: We get compared a lot to My Bloody Valentine but I don’t think they would ever write a three minute pop song. It’s a great comparison, but it doesn’t mean anything.

You supported The Joy Formidable in London at their request recently. How important is it to get hooked up by bands who have broken through and been signed?
Chris: They told us; “We fought tooth and nail to get you on this gig”. Because they are in a position now where they are on a major label and they’ve got agents and managers, and everyone has got an agenda. They were like, “That’s all very well, but we want to put this band on.” From a practical point of view, that sort of thing is essential. It does no end of good for us and if a band like that puts you under their wing, it means a lot.

You’re playing Glastonbury...
Rob: Dean Jackson, he’s the man.
Chris: And Tom Robinson from BBC Introducing. I think it was Tom Robinson that actually got us the gig, as there was a panel of judges...Zane Lowe, Steve Lamacq, Jo Whiley... Emily Eavis.
Rob: It wasn’t about getting the most ‘likes’ on Facebook and all of that rubbish. I just know that as soon as my fringe is let loose they going to have to put us on the telly.

When can we expect the new album?
Chris: We have just been finishing it off. There’s ten tracks and most of them we already play live, but there will be three or four that we don’t. It goes all over the place; there are six minute build-ups, there are acoustic bits…
Rob: We’ve got proper songs as well, songs that can be played on the radio and that go against the shoegaze ethos. Our next single is going to be three and a half minutes long. They are like pop songs, but full on and in you face with great melodies and a great energy to them. We recorded it all live in two days in Norwich...
Chris: ...with a genius producer, well, more of an engineer, at a little rustic old converted church. We are putting it out ourselves. No-one is buying albums in this country, so I’d like to focus on Japan and America.
Why did you decide to record it that way?
Chris: Financial reasons. I also think that this band is a good live band now. We’ve been going long enough and understand now that you have to be tight, you get found out if you aren’t. I didn’t want to do more than three takes for one song.
When you are writing a song how do you know when it is finished?
Chris: We did the Camden Crawl recently and as the stage was the size of a table, we stripped it down to a psychedelic sound like the Cocteau Twins because we had to. That is when you know that a song holds up by itself.

What other Notts bands do you like?
Rob: We record at Rubber Biscuit so we are surrounded by bands all of the time but we’re stuck in our own little world. I like I Am Lono, I think they’re amazing. I love Pilgrim Fathers, and Amusement Parks on Fire have been one of my favourite bands for a long time. I really love Hello Thor too, what they are doing is brilliant. And there’s Fists, they’re really good.
hris: I like them. They’re kind of brittle, they reminded me of Pavement. I love Swimming, that last single was brilliant.
What is the most memorable gig that you’ve played in Nottingham?
Chris: Hockley Hustle – there was a great line-up on the stage we played.
Rob: There wasn’t any PA! The organisers turned up without a PA. Rescue Rooms was great when we played there recently. Going back to what I was saying earlier, no-one really knows that we exist here. I would love to play a gig at The Social where everyone knows the songs. Dog Is Dead did really great to sell out the Rescue Rooms, but I know how long it took them to do that. They were promoting that for six months easy, every week they had a little advert for it in the NME.
What’s next for the band?
Chris: I think the strength of this band is playing to people. Over the last couple of years we have been building up a  few contacts in London, and we’ve started to make in-roads in places like Manchester, Birmingham and Leeds. I don’t want a long gap between albums, I want the other one to be out within the year to keep the momentum.
Rob: From the start I have always said that it is all about the music, the songs, and if the songs are good enough... I know it’s about luck as well. We’ve had luck; we’ve had bad luck and good luck. We are very ambitious, we properly mean business.
Chris: Playing Glastonbury Introducing stage is just the start. If no-one takes any notice on this album, hopefully the next one. We are like cockroaches – you can’t kill us. If we get the hype then we have got something behind us as well. Hype really gets you going at the moment. There are so many bands you don’t know what is good or bad.
It’s the idea that if you aren’t a new band then you aren’t very good...
Chris: It’s like starting a new relationship, the honeymoon period. You have to capitalise on that and ninety-nine percent of bands don’t.
Rob: We are a new band. This whole thing is starting again, the new album is a new band, we are doing things that we have never done before. People think that we have been going for years, and no, we haven’t.
At this moment how does it feel to be in Spotlight Kid?
Chris: After last night, it’s great.
Rob: The bit in All Is Real when I am just playing the note, I’m stood on the monitors and I’m stood right at the front. It’s filling up and I can see all of the people, and I’m thinking, “I’m not going back to work, sod that.” I could do that every night forever.
Chris: One day you can be playing a festival in front of five hundred people then the next gig might be in front of thirty, but we will still give it our all. We make pop music, but we bury it with noise.
Any final words for LeftLion readers?
Rob: All this talk of there being no bands coming out of Nottingham needs to end. It’s just waiting to happen. We only exist if people buy our records and if you talk of Nottingham having no bands, if you don’t come and see us...
Chris: That is why we are trying to promote ourselves. Behind the scenes it’s great with the Dean Jacksons and LeftLions of this world.
Rob: Then there are people like Will Robinson of I’m Not From London – every night he’s got gigs and it’s all sorts of random stuff. The Maze have always been pushing Nottingham. Don’t get me wrong, there is a lot of bad out there,  but it’s all about finding the good ones.

Spotlight Kid play with Frontiers, I Am Lono and Jake Bugg at The Bodega on Wednesday 22 June 2011.

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