Frontman Ben and guitarist Jamie filled in for drummer Nathan and bassist Niall as the four-piece band from Manchester recently joined us over Zoom, for an interview. The boy’s talk of space, cutting shapes on stage and staying original in an ever-changing music scene.
So Ben, tell us what it’s like being the frontman of a band?
Ben: I love it, I’m more comfortable up there [on stage] than I am in the crowd. I got in a band so I had room to move, and the crowds – I can feed off the energy.
Are you all from Manchester? How did you meet?
Ben: Jamie and I are both from Timperley. Niall, the bass player, is from Whilmslow and Nathan, the drummer is from Wigan.
Jamie: Ben and I went to school together and basically grew up together. I’ve been playing guitar for years but Ben had never really sang or been the frontman of a band before.
Ben: When we were at school, whenever you would go down the music corridor you would always see Jamie strumming away on his guitar. I walked past and thought “look at that loser” (joking) so later down the line I joined in after we started drinking. We embraced each other.
Jamie: I knew Nathan from a previous band, we got on really well even though I’d only known him a few months when me and Ben started talking about starting a band, so we got him in straight away and we clicked. Niall was a friend of a friend – as bass players always seem to be… they just exist… but we found ourselves a gem.
Ben: Yeah, Niall is just so versatile. We call him versa-Niall, because he just does everything. I feel like we could give him any instrument and he could do it.
Jamie: He’s really good with all instruments, he has so much knowledge of music in general too. I just play but Niall is good at adapting. The drummer and the bass player build the foundation of the band which is what you want.
You haven’t been together that long really have you?
Ben: Since 2019… our first gig was June 2019 and I think back then we must have had about five or six gigs and we released a couple of demos. Then in 2020 we had our first headliner and then lockdown happened straight after.
How did you find making music during the pandemic?
Ben: Lockdown actually ended up being alright ‘cause creativity-wise we just got to focus.
Jamie: We wrote so many of our tunes during lockdown, the majority of them were written in 2020.
A lot of bands used that time to focus and pump songs out didn’t they?
Ben: I learned how to play guitar – sort of. Not even on purpose, I had one lying around so I messaged Jamie saying I wrote a song called Scissor Happy which was really good. Lyrics are what I’m good at so that part was good… but the guitar part was fucking awful. I’m not used to playing and singing at the same time, I’m used to throwing shapes. I could do with a few back up dancers. I’ve had a few offers but we need a bigger stage, the amount of times I’ve kicked Jamie’s guitar.
Jamie: I always see his leg coming towards me and have to dodge it.
Are you a bit like Mick Jagger on stage?
Ben: Yeah, I’m like this little pot of all of them.
Jamie: It’s like he’s mixed every frontman there ever was and he’s become one.
Ben: I change it depending on which song it is, or I change it as the song goes on. One minute I’ll be like “I’m gonna be Jarvis now” then I’ll be Jarvis and then change to someone else. Just mix it up.
So the name Spangled, where did that come from?
Ben: I wanted to be called Garlic Dip ‘cause I love garlic dip… but that didn’t happen. I was out with my mate George one night, we were in 42s in town and he just turned to me and he was so drunk. We both were, but I wasn’t as gone as he was, so I said to him “You alright George?” and he just said “Mate, I’m spangled”. I texted Jamie saying “Spangled”, nothing else, and he just woke up to that message from me so the next time we saw each other we knew that was the name.
How would you describe your sound?
Ben: Varied… intricate but very groovy.
What if you had to sum it up in three words?
Ben: Anthemic, Jangly and Top.
Who are your biggest inspirations?
Ben: We have four main bands that we sort of draw inspiration from – The Smiths, The Roses, Oasis and Joy Division, so we’re pretty much from the Manchester circle but at the beginning I wasn’t really used to doing music, it was very Oasis driven.
Jamie: Oasis was quite easy and simple to follow, a nice neat box of indie music, whereas the Smiths and the Stone Roses are a bit more intricate
Ben: As we got better and more experienced we wanted to have our own sound.
Jamie: Yeah it developed naturally. The tunes we have now sound pretty distinctive but there’s stills nods to those iconic Manchester bands. There’s all sorts of inspiration in there now when you listen to us, bits of Bowie, Declan Mckenna, loads of little bits that have been grabbed from here, there and everywhere.
Is it important to you to stick to those northern roots?
Ben: In a way yeah but you’ve gotta spread your wings. Music is music, we’re always gonna have those northern inspirations that will always take influence for us, but we don’t know how we’ll progress or what direction we’ll head in. Who knows, we could end up being a folk band in like a decade haha.
Jamie: Being from Manchester we’ve always been at the forefront of new sounds, so it’s always gonna be a new sound from Manchester anyway.
Ben: It’s really important for us to have our own sound and we’ve stuck with that mantra for the past year or so, we don’t wanna be following any particular root or sounding like a specific artist when we’re gonna have our own sound. We want to take music to where it belongs.
Jamie: We’re only going to push that further, the more we continue and the more songs we write the more unique we’ll become. We’re constantly drawing on different influences.
Tell us more about your recent single Cosmic Vibrations
Ben: So Cosmic Vibrations was actually a band name idea ages ago but we thought “Nah it’s not snappy enough”, so I always had the name in my head and we said we’d use it as a single. Jamie sent me the guitar riff and all the chords, so he sent the track over and said this should be Cosmic Vibrations. It ended up being about the band in general, us being together. We bloody love space – this will become very apparent – the idea of linking space and music was always gonna be something that we were gonna track down eventually and this single is basically the first one in of us taking a step in that direction. I think it was important that it was about the music rather than being about a girl or anything like that. It’s a love letter to the band, singing cosmic vibrations with the band. It’s basically saying everything is so vast and we’re so irrelevant that we can’t really do anything… everything we do is pointless… nothing matters. All we can do when we’re together as a band is focus on making music and enjoying it… living in the moment, that’s exactly what we’re doing.
What have been your proudest moments so far?
Jamie: Definitely Isle of Wight
Ben: Yeah, that was our first major festival debut.
Jamie: It was weird having that many people in a tent jumping to your tunes… people who had never heard you before. There were only like three or four of our mates who were there and then a sea of 30-40 people who were complete randomers packed into the tent just jumping up and down. Outside the tent there were another 50 people.
Ben: Yeah, we had good numbers. We played at the academy and supported The K’s a few weeks ago at Manchester, again, that was another mega moment. That’s the first time we’ve walked out to a crowd of that capacity. There were 1000 people.
Jamie: And again it was a room full of people who had never heard us before, jumping up and down to your tunes, a weird feeling.
What are your next steps? Any big plans?
Jamie: There’s loads in the pipeline, there’s an EP in the works which is gonna be coming soon with more of the space theme.
Ben: Yeah we’re into themes but we don’t wanna give too much away… We’re hoping to announce it soon.
Jamie: There’s more gigs planned for December too, another gig with The K’s that was rearranged so that’ll be amazing, and hopefully some more in the works. For January and February time there’s more big plans, soon to be revealed.
What goals have you got set for the future?
Ben: We’re gonna be the most important band in the world, that’s the only goal. We’ve said this from day dot. We know how good we are, we know what we’ve got, we know our strengths and we know our weaknesses. We’re happy in our own little world, our own little bubble.
Jamie: A lot of people don’t realise, it baffles me every time but Oasis and The Smiths just sort of appeared and became massive straight away, but they don’t realise they played to crowds of 10 or 15 people. That’s where it starts so yeah get out there and support small bands!
PHOTOS – SPANGELED