Interview by Craig Obert
Congratulations on the release of your latest album ‘Along Came A Spider.’ I realize you are quite busy these days, so thank you for your time. How is life in your part of the world?
All good! We’ve been busy with promotion for ‘Along Came a Spider,’ we played some fun shows, did a bunch of interviews and are looking forward to more. Things are busy in the land of Spider Rockets and that’s the way we like it!
We don’t stay static, but the constant is evolution, not jumping from one trend to the other. If you listen to our previous album, ‘Bitten,’ you’ll hear a natural progression to ‘Along Came a Spider’ in terms of song writing and production. And as you go back further, like to our album ‘Flipped Off,’ you can hear more similarities as well as how things have moved forward. This time around, we paired up with producer, Dan Malsch (Framing Hanley, Tantric and Doro). The results were an upping of the ante production-wise that was careful to serve the songs and maintain the identity of the group. Catchy songs with swagger, groove, fun and a healthy dose of in-your-face attitude. This is an album that has you tapping your foot, bobbing your head or humming for the rest of the day.
I understand that in the early days, the use of electronics (drum machines, etc.) was necessary. Ever consider using electronics again? What do you think it could add to the band’s sound? Or is this a closed chapter?
Yes, we started as a duo using an electronic rhythm section. And we honestly played every dive bar we could find in New Jersey and New York with that setup. Regarding using the same setup now or in the future? To me live music is magical. The way organic sound generates feelings: the attack of a note, the crescendo and decrescendo in different parts of the song and the visual live energy.
Mechanized electronics may have a place, but I am not sure they do for our live shows. Not now, anyway.
‘Along Came A Spider’ met several delays before its release date. Were there any items left out (or altered) due to this? If so, do you see yourself using these ideas in subsequent releases?
Admittedly, our new album ‘Along Came a Spider’ was in the works for longer than we’re used to. It was supposed to be released in 2016, then in 2017. But we did not want to settle on something that we never felt it was quite right, so we kept at it. Songs evolved, parts were added, and parts were deleted. This happened a lot.
We also had some upheavals to deal with, personally and professionally, and had to put back the pieces in both situations to create this album. Deaths in the families and band members falling off. We had to refocus, and it was hard. Maybe that did something to us because as we started working on the new material, we were tougher on ourselves than we had been in the past. Sometimes going through bad times can make you stronger. It did in this case and we powered through and had individuals around us who didn’t let up either. Those people know who they are!
We were demoing our new songs a lot before even hooking up with Dan Malsch. And, when Dan went through the songs, more changes were made. We didn’t want this to be one of those situations where you look back a year later and think “damn, we should have….” And, we’re glad we saw it through because we feel this is by far the best album we’ve done.
You are right though, we had a lot of scraps left over. Sometimes those pieces are great for generating song ideas, especially if you are stuck. They are a good way to get your mind moving constructively again. We’ve used leftovers that way in the past. I am not sure those exact parts will find their way into future songs, though — there is a reason they got cut in the first place.
I was pleasantly surprised to read about Helena’s appreciation of music icons such as Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday. Personally, I love Jazz, especially from the 50’s and 60’s. What would Spider Rockets sound like if some of these elements were brought to the forefront?
Mmmn, bringing those elements front and center would be an interesting proposal. Hey, you never know. I think the bottom line is it would have to make sense within a song and within the overall corresponding album. Maybe done in the right way, it could work in a Spider Rockets’ album. Your idea is definitely food for thought!
I love cover tunes. You’ve a got a few of your own, including Pat Benatar’s “Heartbreaker,” which is a pretty audacious choice. Any others on the drawing table? What Spider Rockets song would you like to be covered…any by whom?
Cool shit — I didn’t realize we were being audacious — but, I love it! Maybe “Balls to the Wall” next… I’m kidding (or not), I just like the audacious comment! We were actually looking for a great song that fit into the tone of the album but didn’t want to pick one that had been recorded a million times already. We’ve fallen into that hole before on an earlier album. I’m not mentioning which one, so you’re gonna have to dig to find out! But, Geoff Gill and Cliff Wade wrote a damn good song and Pat Benatar’s version was epic and shot it into the stars. We played around with it a bit and felt like we could make it work for the album, so we dug in our heels….
Regarding future possible covers? Like “Heartbreaker” this time, the song would have to make sense within the tone of the album. There are so many great songs, too, so who knows. We would be getting ahead of ourselves by picking something now!
Having one of our songs covered? Or remixed? Going back to our album ‘Flipped Off,’ a friend of our producer at the time wanted to remix one of our songs, “Fortune.” I can’t remember this remixer’s name – but it may be worth investigating…. Anyway, it never happened but I always thought that had great potential and would love to hear someone pull that off.
20 plus years in a band (or any environment) is a long time. If you could jump back 20 years and pursue an entirely different career path, what would it be?
It’s funny that you mentioned this. When I was in school, I took a questionnaire to see what profession best suited me and the answer was: garbage collector. I was a bit surprised because I don’t really like garbage and am sensitive to smells. But who knows, maybe, my subconscious was telling me something. After all, isn’t being in a band a lot like being a garbage collector? You run around in a big vehicle with some other guys, you make stops at multiple locations, you load, you unload. And when it’s all done, you’re stinky and tired. So, maybe my alternate career would not be so very different….
Recording and promoting and touring has got to take an immense toll on you. Can you tell us of one specific event where you said “This–this is why we do this!”
Yes, for sure, this was a touching situation. At a recent show, we met a fan who still had our first recording. He showed it to us after the show and I was incredibly surprised. I didn’t know this recording was still out there. Maybe he has the only copy left…. Anyway, it meant a lot to him and he made sure he let us know. He told us how he got the recording from a family member, how he listened to it nonstop on the bus going to and from school and how much he still listens to it. We talked for a while after the show. He was so happy, and, honestly, we were equally thrilled. To have such an impact on someone – I don’t know what to say about it, besides it is an honor. And it drives us to move forward keep doing what we do. Our fan made an impact on us, too, and we very much appreciate him for that!
We sincerely appreciate your time. Please tell us we will be seeing you on tour soon. I guarantee I will be there with friends in tow. Any parting words for our readers?
We are packing up right now to head to the Midwest for some shows with Puddle of Mudd, Saving Abel and Tantric. And we are looking forward to more shows and tours this year. Of course we would love to see you and your friends—that would be great!
As far as parting words: do stuff because you love it and don’t worry about current trends. That’s what we do and our new album is a testament to that philosophy.
‘Along Came a Spider’ is available digitally worldwide. And, for those who want a signed CD, come out to a show or go to our online store (via Facebook or our website).
Here are some of the places you can find us online:
MHF Magazine/Craig Obert