Canadian post-punk quintet SPECTRES, are set to release their phenomenal fourth studio LP Nostalgia this Friday via Artoffact Records. The album is a captivating collection of nine tracks lined in the warm silver and sepia veneer of ages long past, invoking all the best sonic allusions culled from the history of post-punk, resembling the soundtrack that lingers from a fading dream.
Ahead of this release of what is already shaping up to be one of the best post-punk records of 2020, we spoke with guitarist Zach Batalden, and vocalist and Brian Gustafson about the long-awaited follow-up to their 2016 LP Utopia.
Can you tell us how you evolved in your songwriting since 2016’s Utopia?
Zach: It wasn’t necessarily a conscious thing. Being a band for as long as we have, things have a tendency to just kind of follow their own course. We still have the same method which is that one of us will come up with a riff or the basic skeleton of a song and then bring it to the group where we flesh it out together. That being said, we went through a pretty significant line-up change halfway through the writing of Nostalgia which really impacted the way the songs sounded. Adam and Jason (our current second guitar player and bassist) both have very distinct styles that changed the direction of a lot of the material that we’d been working on previously. And ultimately, all of that considered, we are just all very into music and as we’ve explored new interests in what we are listening to it’s had a sonic impact on what we are writing.
There seems to be a more romantic feel to the atmosphere of the music, was this the goal?
Zach: In some cases, yes. There have been cases where we’ve said “let’s write a song that sounds romantic” or “let’s write a dance song,” but ultimately the songs just kind of take their own direction. We’re all a lot older and have experienced a lot of growing up since we started the band so it makes sense that the songs have taken on a more emotionally mature sound.
We assumed you were citing Metropolis with the song Head and the Heart? Is this true? And if so, how does this classic piece of cinema relate to your worldview, philosophy, or songwriting?
Zach: That’s actually just a coincidence! Obviously, an amazing film, and utopian aspirations and failures are definitely topics that we’ve taken a lot of influence from over the years, but if Metropolis influenced the song it was purely subliminal.
Are there other such allusions on the record?
Brian: There are some references to other artists who have influenced us. For instance the referencing of Richey Edwards in Years of Lead and Curt Smith in Along the Waterfront.
Nostalgia often vacillates between being a pejorative word to being something sacred. Why is the new LP called Nostalgia? And what is your view on the matter?
Zach: The title just felt right. We’ve never shied away from acknowledging our influences and in a way calling the record Nostalgia felt like an affirmation of that. We had already written and recorded the album and when listening back to it in reflection it just felt very nostalgic and bittersweet. As for our view on the matter, nostalgia is a natural state of mind. We are all connected to history, in both a personal and general sense and Nostalgia, in this case, is about that relationship.
Do you feel like the post-punk and deathrock communities have grown stronger since your last full-length record?
Zach: That’s hard to say. It’s certainly become more diverse. There are so many bands making different sounds that all kind of fall under these umbrella terms which is a pretty cool thing to watch happen.
Can you tell us about working as a 5-piece in 2020? The richness in sound is definitely noticeable.
Zach: We’ve always tried to write dynamic music with layers so having a couple of guitars working together has helped us achieve that. We’re all good friends and enjoy working together so it just kind of clicks.
Can you also tell us about working with Artoffact Records?
Zach: Artoffact have been really good to us. We’ve been around a long time and worked with some cool DIY labels in the past but we wanted to try and do something different for Nostalgia. We reached out to Jacek and began talking and things just kind of progressed naturally from there. They’ve been amazingly supportive throughout this whole process.
You are currently on tour?
Zach: Yes, this interview was completed from a hotel lobby computer! We are touring the West Coast right now:
Spectres perform tonight with Riki, Strangers, Object of Affection, and Loverboy at The Rec Room in Los Angeles.
And the band will be performing some dates on the east coast this summer.
- Mar 11 – Los Angeles, CA @ The Rec Room
- Mar 12 – San Francisco, CA @ The Eagle
- Mar 13 – Chico, CA @ Naked Lounge
- Mar 14 – Portland, OR @ Lovecraft
Nostalgia is out Friday, March 13th. Order Here