45°: We meet… *SILVERSPARK*

Two Englishmen, a Welshman and an Australian walk into a recording studio…

Nope, we’ve not heard how that one ended up either. Until now.

“We’re a bit of United Nations band!” exclaims SilverSpark guitarist Matt Philips to 45 Magazine.

With Aussie-born Lincoln Spalding on bass duties, riffs and rhythms from England (guitarist – Matt Philips & drummer – Matt “Hewey” Hewitson) and a feisty Welsh songstress Carley Philips wielding the microphone, he’s definitely got a point.

Whilst this may be a set-up people aren’t too familiar with at the moment, from the lush anthems and swelling choruses they sew seamlessly together on record, joking aside, this is definitely one we’ll be hearing more and more from as the year goes on.

Currently basing themselves along the, perhaps slightly less-exotic M1 corridor from St Albans up to Northamptonshire, the band have been busying themselves with the final touches of the soon-to-be-released début long-player ‘Flames Run Deep’.

The band originally formed as a duo with Carley and Matt writing music to escape from the frustrations and express the elations they carried in their lives in 2011. After a series of successful gigs in intimate venues, the duo saw their potential and sought to amplify their powerhouse vocals and guitar wiazardry and with an expanded line-up. With the assistance of Hewey and Lincoln, the four piece haven’t looked back since.

Citing key references as diverse as stadium slaying rock acts R.E.M. and Stereophonics through to the sepia-tinged sounds of Otis Redding and The Kinks all the way to the unashamed pop-rock of attitude spitting divas Christina Aguilera and Kelly Clarkson, it’s no surprise that these guys create a sound that aims to be as world-conquering as their heroes. With songs such as “Light The Fuse” with its the ‘Out of Time’ era Americana riffs, wiry guitar hero solos and flooring vocal flourishes, and the 90s riot grrl infused punk-funk a la Cardigans and Letters to Cleo already in their canon, its not surprising the band have already been picked up by indie and commercial radio stations alike, on an international scale.

But just in case we don’t make it to the red carpets ceremonies and ticker-tape parades with them (though we’ll happily take the invites!), we thought we’d grab an interview with the band now as they count down the days to the release of their highly anticipated album and launch at Cardiffs Buffalo Bar in the coming weeks:

Album launch poster FB

Hi guys, for those at home who are we speaking with today?

Matt the Guitarist and Carley the singer.

45 Magazine heard your latest track “Don’t Bring Me Down” on Soundcloud and thought we’d better get in touch. Tell us about the track…

Carley: ‘Don’t Bring Me Down’ is the track that has evolved the most since we wrote it. It started as a pretty obvious straight up rock track but straight up rock isn’t really our style….we knew it wasn’t sitting quite right. So, we put it in the locker for a little while and got it back out just at the end of last year when we were doing a load of shows around the UK. We kept playing with it live and it naturally started to find its place within SilverSpark. Matt came up with a new, more melodic version of the song for the intro pattern just a few weeks before the studio and it instantly felt right. This is quite rare for SS (SilverSpark); we usually get an idea and stick with it.

We couldn’t help but detect elements “Out of Time Era” REM if they teamed up with Garbage – have either of these acts influenced your sound?

Matt: REM are a massive influence on me. There was a time when I was a teenager that I would listen to nothing but REM. I definitely take that as a compliment too….I love that band I guess it shows in the writing. As for Garbage they’ve never really been an influence but that’s quite a cool comparison, now you mention it! I think we’re a lot more like bands from that era that people realise.

When you first started out, who did you most want to sound like? What have you experimented with sounding like over the years, or is this the sound that came naturally to you?

Carley: This is definitely the sound that comes naturally to us. We have both been in other bands but it just didn’t ‘fit’. There has never been a time in SilverSpark when we’ve sat down and said ‘Today let’s write a ballad/funk/rock track”. What you get with SS is an honest account of how we’re feeling right at that time…. whether that’s anger, sadness, feeling mischievous. I wouldn’t be able to do anything but wear my heart on my sleeve….anyone who knows me will tell you that, I’m not very good at hiding my emotions!

You guys have come from all over really haven’t you? Where did you meet and what brought you together?

Matt: Absolutely it’s a United Nation’s band! It’s quite funny because each of us has a very different accent to the next. When we were practicing our harmonies for the live shows we were in hysterics just because we all pronounce things different. For example, Carley being Welsh and Hewey being a Geordie really pronounces their L’s….there’s a bit in ‘Dangerous Game’ where the lyrics are ‘Streets of Gold’ and the word ‘Gold’ was so funny. I guess you had to be there lol! Carley: Matt and I met in London working for different areas within the same company and within 6 months we’d quit our jobs and decided to try and make a success out of our music. We are full time musicians now and whilst we’re not rolling in the money…we’re doing something we love which is priceless!

Your debut album launch of “Flames Run Deep” is taking place in Cardiff’s fabulous Buffalo Bar on May 9th. Tell us a little bit more about that…

Carley: Well being a Welsh girl it’s always great to come home to Wales plus we seem to have a real group of fans down in South Wales and the South West of England so it was the natural place to have the launch! Plus the Buffalo Bar is a cracking venue in a cracking city. It’s going to be a great night.

Carley you’re from Cardiff yourself – who else should we check out from the Cardiff or South Wales scenes at the moment?

Carley: Yep…you can take the girl etc etc! I think there has always been a fantastic music scene in South Wales. Obvious ones are the boys who led the way like the ‘Stereophonics’ and ‘Manic Street Preachers’ but also bands like ‘Paper Aeroplanes’ and singer/songwriter ‘Ellie Makes Music’ are getting some attention…and well deserved too.

How has it been recording the album – have you all agreed on what should be going on there or has there been some tough decision?

Matt: It sounds pretty boring but we have pretty much agreed on everything that went on the album. We all have the same goal so whilst sometimes one of us will have to compromise on something – we know that it’s for the good of the band overall. Sorry that’s boring! I could pretend we have boxing matches and takes bets on who will stay up the longest.

What would you say to new bands also hoping to record their first album, but just haven’t made those first major steps yet to getting it down?

Matt: I’d say play those songs as much as you can and gig as often as you can leading up to the studio so you know those songs inside out. But don’t be afraid to put a song on the back burner if you’re just not feeling it. Like we did with ‘Don’t Bring Me Down’, it’s so much stronger now.

And what can we expect from you as the summer and festival season finally stretches into view?

Carley: As well as the début album, 2014 will be a year of live shows and we’ll be backing the album up by showing we can really rock it live too! We just want to keep growing our fan base, writing new tracks and then hopefully for the next album we can do bigger venues and that is the master plan!

Any bizarre gig experiences to tell of so far?

Carley: Absolutely! You can’t be full time musicians for 5 years without seeing some crazy stuff. Fights, overzealous lovers, people grabbing the microphone off of me, someone stood on Matt’s amp, fire alarms in the middle of the set….you name it. There was also that time someone invaded the stage and got a bit close to me…..I’ve never seen Matt ‘help’ them off of the stage so quickly in my life. Ha, good times.

And finally, reunions are back in the news again. Do we need another Led Zeppelin or Libertines reunion? Discuss…

Matt: It’s a tough one. We’re massive fans of some of the bands who are coming back from the golden age of music i.e. The Rolling Stones. Some of these bands are epic…BUT…..they’ve also had their time in the sun….roll over Beethoven!!! It’s time for us younger bands to get a chance.  Carley: There’s so much talent out there which isn’t getting a fair shot because of the likes of X Factor etc that we don’t need another bunch of geriatrics on stage.

Great to chat to you and thanks again guys! xx END xx

SilverSpark are set to release their highly anticipated début album, “Flames Run Deep”, at a launch party at Cardiff’s Buffalo Bar on Friday 9th of May. Get your tickets now @ the SilverSpark website…

WORDS: THOM WILLIAMS