Ali’s got great energy – a warm freneticism about him – and he discusses with fervent enthusiasm how the band seems to be picking up an international following. “We played a gig in Paris and the Taiwanese ambassador tweeted about it beforehand, encouraging the ex-pats to come along”, he says. “We couldn’t get to the stage it was so busy. We had all these Taiwanese people screaming “you’re so cute, we love you!”. That was a fun experience”.
The boys chat amongst themselves as I begin to talk to Rachid (Fakhre, guitar & vocals), who has a large bandage on his right wrist – an injury involving a kettle, he tells me. We talk about the origins of the band, and in particular, where the name came from. “It was me, Albert and Jules, I think. We needed a name, and there were some terrible ones flying around. Spang was a word that our friend used to use to reference MDMA, and I always loved the word. We loved it, and wanted to put it in the name, it kind of went with the sound – spangly, y’know – it’s quite onomatopoeic isn’t it? So I guess we fell into this androgynous, twangy, Spang Sisters persona”.
The conversation opens up to the whole group, and I’m intrigued to know more about how this spangly sound. I ask Albert (Haddenham, drums) how he would describe it. He tells me he’s only going to answer using the letter A. There’s a moments pause, and Albert begins to cycle through ‘A’ words – “Atrocious… anodyne… aromatic. Aromatic I think is the most appropriate. It’s usually quite aromatic at the end of a set. Pretty fragrant”. The alphabet game continues. Benedictine, says Will. Calming, says Jules. Didactic, says Rachid. “Can I just skip to S? S is a good one” says Ali. “Sexual, sensual, sultry.” There’s a mischievousness in all of the boys as they answer my questions, a sense that they’re not here to plug the band, but rather they’re genuinely interested in having this night out. It’s refreshing, and exactly what I’m after; there’s no scripted answers, no regurgitation – it’s unrehearsed, uninstructed chat, straight from the horses mouth. “I like to think it’s like a stone where you look underneath and it’s all mossy” says Will (Wiffen, keyboards).
“But then you look at the other side and you’re like, ooh – that’s a bit ugly. It’s like someone’s done a human shit and covered it up with a stone. I think that’s a good metaphor for the Spangs.” The boys nod in agreement. It’s ten o’clock – time to leave the pub and head down to the next venue. A friend of theirs is playing a gig just a short walk away. Me and Ali fall behind the group to stop in a Londis and grab some beers. I ask him about the band’s new single – Boys – and the dreamy, retro-inspired video that accompanies it.
“Our friend Rosalie [Charrier] is a film director. And she’d heard some of our music and fell in love with it, and she really wanted to attach her creative prowess to it. She was the one that posed the idea of a crowdfund to us, but we thought, how the fuck is anyone ever going to give that amount of money to the Spang Sisters?” He says. “But through crowdfunding and [Rosalie’s] hard work, we made it. It was actually predominantly Frenchly raised – through this newfound popularity in France we could make it. They love soft stuff over there.” We arrive at the next pub just in time to see their friend, Jean Penne, perform. He arrives on stage with tights on his head – the two legs dangling like tendrils in front of his face – with two guys dressed as Druids. It’s possibly the weirdest act I’ve ever seen, a blend of deadpan comedy and spoken word. It’s very funny. Jeanne Penne finishes and we head outside for a cigarette. I spot two men having an argument in the street. I look over, just curious, when one of them spots me. He tells me to fuck off. I mind my own business. “I’ll stab your Gran” he shouts at me. I dart back inside. It’s nearly time to call it a night, but before I go, I ask the boys what’s 2019 got in store. “I think we’re breaking up aren’t we?” Says Will.
He’s joking, of course, and it sounds like a busy few months coming up for them. “We’ll do more shows, more French ones are coming up. Paris at some point. Boys is going out on Spotify with a compilation album, hopefully around March” Jules (Gibbons, guitar and vocals) tells me. “I think this year is all about getting ourselves back in the same place. Coming up with some new bits, y’know. In May we’re going to retreat to a house in the countryside in France – we want to get out there and just craft. At least out in the country there’s no place to hide. We’ll be forced to do something, right? And if we don’t, maybe we’ll just end up tending to the garden. The weeds need doing.
Spang Sister’s ‘Boys B Sides & Rarities‘ is out today.