You Sing, I Write: Q&A with Toby Butler of the Duke Spirit

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Q&A with Toby Butler of the Duke Spirit

Gracing Rolling Stone's Breaking Artists blog as well as being part of many summer festival line-ups, U.K. band the Duke Spirit is getting quite some attention as of late. With catchy choruses provided by singer Liela Moss and solid musical accompaniment backed by the rest of the band, the Duke Spirit is definitely a band to check out. Their MySpace is worth a listen and to watch two music videos from their latest album, click here. Read below for my email interview with bassist Toby Butler, who talked about their sophomore album, Neptune, their writing process and why you should give the Duke Spirit a listen.

How do you keep your songs sounding new and fun from track to track?
Our producer Chris Goss was really instrumental in helping us give each song a personality. I think it's important not to get stuck in a regimented way of approaching things. It’s good to try new things as much as you can, to spread your wings. We'd use lots of weird instruments and sounds on each song to give them a less formal 'rock' sound. Guild the lily.

Did you go into the studio with a certain concept for this album?
Not really. We went into the studio with a bunch of songs, and we chose the album with Goss from them. I guess the concept was more the sound we wanted. We went to Goss because we love the way the records he makes sound. Heavy yet delicate.

Having already had the experience of recording your debut album, do you feel the process went more smoothly or was entirely different?
It was a whole lot different. We are now much more confident and open minded about making music. We were pretty inexperienced when we made that first album. I love the way it sounds, but in retrospect there are things I would have been more conscious of and things I would have done differently. Making Neptune was a much more fun and creative process, that was more a product of what is in our heads.

I love the song "Dog Roses." Does that have timpani in the background? It just has such a deep, dark feel to the song. What was the inspiration behind the song?
We recorded that song back to front. It was probably the most fun and openly approached song to record. We laid down an acoustic guitar track and just weaved everything else into it. Just four mics on the drum kit. I don't think it was a timpani, I think it's a de-tuned floor tom with loads of reverb on it.

What's the typical writing process for you like?
We demo whilst we write. If one of us has an idea for a song, then we record it in our little studio in London. Melodies and lyrics generally come after we have some kind of musical structure, or verse and chorus at least.

When I first heard "I Do Believe" the intro to Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" came to mind. Did that occur to you at all when you were recording the song?
Ha ha. Well we're all fans of Queen! It wasn't the inspiration for it, no. It was something Liela came up with that we thought would be great as an intro for the album.

Do you have a favorite track on the album? If so, why that track?
This Ship Was Built to Last” is a favourite. I love the big rolling sound it has. I wanted it to have sound like a huge ship pounding through massive waves. That's how it makes me feel. I love playing it live.

What makes the Duke Spirit stand out as a band? Why should people check you out as opposed to other bands out there?
We make interesting, intelligent, psychedelic, heavy, delicate, rock and roll music that makes you wanna bang your head and shake your ass!

If that wasn't enough of the Duke Spirit for you, be sure to check out Rolling Stone's feature on them, with two live performances and a brief interview and if you like what you hear, catch a show when they're in town!

1 comment:

a Tart said...

Thanks for the interview, I did catch them the other night here in Chicago and they were amazing! :)


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