Tomorrow’s Music Tonight: VIVA meets The Spiels
As much as we love discovering new music ourselves, here at Team VIVA we equally love to share musical gems amongst the masses (i.e. our readers, friends, family, and sometimes even the pets), and this week is no different.
Although perhaps new to many of you, The Spiels are one of our favourite local bands and have been for a while now. The group, who have had some high profile support slots and headlined plenty of their own gigs, have a real depth to their sound. They have a unique sound – not merely because between the five of them are drums, a violin, bass, a glockenspiel and guitars – and a real honesty to their material.
We managed to catch up with vocalist and guitar player Ryan Lamey ahead of their NightVision EP launch this weekend at Soup Kitchen, and talk inspiration, the beautiful city we call Manchester and find out more about the meaning to the name – ‘The Spiels’…
VIVA: So, Ryan, for those not familiar with The Spiels, could you introduce the members and tell us a little about you all individually?
RL: I’m Ryan [Lamey]: vocalist, guitar strummer, foreigner and baker; we also have Ben McGarvy on vocals, keys and glockenspiel, who is a part-time 80s sitcom addict, fell runner, drummer and percussionist Andy Ford, and the gorgeous Spiel ladies – violin and Irish party machine Jo Reid and one-time jam maker and bass player Gemma. We are The Spiels.
VIVA: Where did the name ‘The Spiels’ come from?
RL: Like so many bands, we went through that phase of trying to find an original name that could come to be defined by our music without it sounding too cute, too ‘try-hard’ or too death-metal. We’d originally settled on another name that just didn’t feel right – so we basically spent weeks going back and forth with any ideas that popped into our heads. Ultimately Ben came up with the name The Spiels (which, apart from the obvious, is an abbreviation of ‘glockenspiel’) – and we quite liked it. Not a very glamorous answer, I know.
VIVA: You have been achieving acclaim on the music scene for a while now, having played some great support slots and solo gigs. Tell us a little more about that…
RL: We love playing live and I think it’s where we really come into our own as a band. Early on we decided that we would seek out and only play gigs that actually meant something to us as a band rather than pick up any old gig for the sake of ‘exposure’. And we’ve been really lucky to play alongside some of our favourite bands. Most notably, we supported Uh Huh Her for their sold-out Manchester gig at Soundcontrol last year – which was a great gig for us. We’ve also performed with the brilliant Autoheart, who invited us to go down to London last summer to support them. They are a fantastic bunch of guys and a truly great band. We in turn invited them to come to Manchester to record a song with us – which yielded our cover version of Tori Amos’ ‘Northern Lad’.
VIVA: Where do you get your inspiration from?
RL: I’d say we get most of our lyrical inspiration from day-to-day life experiences really, though we tend to funnel these into stories about fictional and exaggerated circumstances. Inspiration comes from everywhere though – from our day jobs as civil servants, to the music we’re currently listening to.
VIVA: How would you describe your sound to someone that has never heard your music?
RL: Melodic and lyrical; at times epic, melancholic and dark… with a pulse.
VIVA: You have previously been involved with Pride events. Tell us a little more about that and why it’s important to you
RL: First and foremost, we just want to be a part of the party!! Apart from that, we’ve all attended and supported Pride and Pride-related events over the years – recognising that at the heart of it, Manchester Pride is a charity and fundraiser for LGBT and HIV communities. So any time we’re asked to get involved, it’s a no-brainer.
VIVA: Does sexuality define a group musically?
RL: I think it can if a band chooses to have it define them, but I don’t think it does in our case. Some bands work their sexuality and gender politics into their music and over all “band persona”, but we don’t. It’s not really at the forefront of who we are as individuals. I mean, people tend to know that we’re a predominantly queer band without us having to paint pink triangles on our faces or sing songs about it. Anyway, the subject matter of our songs tends to be more about wider human dysfunction… sex and sexuality is really only a small part of that.
VIVA: What kind of artists are you listening to at the moment?
RL: We’ll spare you the long list of artists we’re each currently listening to and suffice it to say as a group, our musical tastes are pretty diverse. Collectively though, our tastes tend to converge in the realm of artists making similar music as us (or music we aspire to make). We’re always introducing each other to new music. The beginning of many rehearsals consists of someone putting something on the stereo saying “hey – have you guys heard this song/artist/band?” and we all give it a good listen… and sometimes have a bit of a group boogie. (It’s cheesy, but it’s true.)
VIVA: Manchester is a great city for music — brimming with up coming and established talents with some fantastic spaces and watering holes for live music. Where have been your favourite venues in the city to play and which would you love to have the chance to play in the future?
RL: Manchester is definitely a music city – and that’s one of the reasons we call it home. Obviously, we aim to be playing the Apollo or Manchester Arena in the near future… Honestly though, some of the most unassuming spaces can make the best venues. It really only takes the will of the right people to pull it together. We’ve had brilliant gigs in echo-y basement art spaces and cramped little lounges. It’s really down to the people to make it great, and Manchester is definitely full of the right people for the task.
VIVA: Tell us a little more about the Carefully Planned Festival you have just played at.
RL: The Carefully Planned people are renowned for putting on great events – so we jumped at the chance to be involved with their most recent event at the Castle in Manchester. We were a bit of a last-minute addition to the bill, but the crowd was great – really attentive and supportive. There’s something somewhat intoxicating about a sweaty Saturday night gig at the Castle on Oldham Street… It was a lot of fun.
VIVA: We know that now is an extremely busy time for you and you have new music approaching fast. Tell us about that too.
RL: We’ve recently just put the finishing touches on our debut EP ‘Nightvision’ which we are releasing on our own label Octagonal Records in February. We’re throwing a free release party on 19 January at Soup Kitchen in the Northern Quarter at which copies of the EP will be available to buy. We’re looking forward to the party (obviously) but we’re also really excited to get our music out there for people. Our plans are to release another EP in the coming months with an album to follow in the year.
VIVA: What else has the future got planned for The Spiels?
RL: Along with the planned releases, we’re also planning to get out on the road to play more gigs, meet people, and conduct ourselves in such a way that we hope never makes it to facebook, twitter or to our families…
VIVA: Where can those interested learn more about you?
We’re found in all the usual social media spaces – Facebook, Twitter, Soundcloud and will soon have our own website. We love meeting new people and we sincerely encourage folks to come to our sites and ask us things, tell us things, and/or send us gifts.
The Spiels’ ‘Nightvision’ EP launch party takes place at Soup Kitchen this Saturday 19 January in Manchester’s Northern Quarter.