Bringing movies to music
By Jonathan Hale
Gazette file photo
SPACE - they're from Britain.
Tommy Scott stared in amazement at the small, wooden box he had been handed while at Lee's Palace Monday. Inside of this creation which is a quirky promotional device that Scott's Canadian record label made is a plastic spider with dangling legs. A rather unusual choice of promo material one may think, but to the Liverpool act Space, it couldn't be better.
Space's album, quaintly titled Spiders, was just released in Canada, though the British public has already had a couple of months to fall in love with the band, despite its disturbing album cover. The images of spiders crawling around a bath tub were intentionally used to separate the strong from the weak.
"The reason we put it on our album cover is simply to test our fans," lead singer/bassist Scott notes. "We know there are loads of people who are terrified of spiders and if they really love us that much they will still buy [the album]."
But don't think the disturbed fans have prevented or hurt the sales of Spiders at all. The release sold over 100,000 units in Britain and was highly revered at the end of 1996 as one of the year's best across the pond. Why all the hype? Well, if arachnophobia may have turned some away, most music fans could not deny the unique blend of dance, guitar pop and fascinating storytelling that makes the group so intriguing.
While the choice to parallel an album with hip hop beats, jungly techno-styled music and mystical pop songs may seem to be spreading a band's art too thin, Space would disagree.
"Basically what gets our sound is we see the four of us as a democracy," Scott explains. "There's no one leader in the band, so if [keyboardist Franny Griffiths] is into techno, then why shouldn't there be a techno track on the album. I like Sinatra, movies and things like that so that's why I like stories. Andy Parle's into hip hop, so that's why there are hip hop beats all over the place."
While the varying sounds will entice the listener, the lyrics seem to attract most of the attention. Scott lives in a rather unusual world, where he doesn't see life through the eyes of the daily press but more from the perspective of the big screen.
"I'm a shy person, though eccentric, so I take on different characters," Scott explains of the odd lyrical content. "I'm happy with my life but in songs I'm writing stories and every story has a different character."
These characters range from a "Mr. Psycho," an individual living in an apartment building with transvestites, to serial killers and a butch queen in "Neighbourhood." In yet another track, Scott play the role of "Lovechild of the Queen." Of course, sometimes these characters are not fully understood.
"On the song 'Me and You vs. The World,' people say I sound like [The Kinks'] Ray Davies but I'm actually trying to be Speedy Gonzales," Scott laughs. "I'm just not a very good impersonator so that's the way it comes out."
Regardless of what the interpretation is, Space creates original sounds that, despite the images surrounding it, will always remain witty, whimsical pop that everyone deserves to hear. . . despite certain phobias.