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The Spencer McGarry Season

There are many things wrong with Cardiff at the moment: the weather; Charlotte Church; McLusky disbanding, with the deranged splinter group, Shooting At Unarmed Men, fleeing the country for Australia; Welsh electronica stable Machine Records similarly upping and leaving for good. There’s good news, though, in the shape of The Spencer McGarry Season – awesome Jam-esque livewires, Shaggs admirers, and all-round good guys. Catch ’em live if you can – their gigs are the best New Wave dance party you’ll ever attend.

Members, and what you do in the band
Stephen Black – Bass, vocals
Spencer McGarry – Guitar, Vocals
Avvon Chambers – Drums, vocals

Location: Cardiff
Formed: Nov 05

What do you think you sound like, and how different is that from what other people have said or written about you?

We sound like The Kinks, XTC and Talking Heads, which is exactly what people say – mission accomplished, although every now and again someone will come up with something unrelated like “early Steely Dan”. What is early Steely Dan? Who is he? What does it sound like? I have no interest really but that’s what happens when you’re in a band. Also someone recently said Field Music which is good as they are good.

What do you do in your day-to-day lives, other than being the Spencer McGarry Season?

Steve and Spencer work in the Welsh Assembly on the cutting edge of the democratic process and Avvon teaches drums to the children (whom it is confirmed – are now our future)

Which is your favourite of your own tracks and why?

‘The Unfilmable Life and Life Of…’ because it can’t really be played by one instrument (it needs at least three people). I’m happy with the lyrics and it’s fun to play live. I also like ‘We’re Going To Dance The Night Away’ because all the lyrics are contained in the title a la I Want You (She’s So Heavy) by Les Beatles

What have you been listening to/reading lately that you’d recommend?

The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins is a good summary/introduction to Atheism and encourages one to take a position on religion and god which I like (there’s no time for agnostics). Other than that it’s been a poor year for reading.

Music – Field Music: everything that good guitar music should be.
Talking Heads: as far as I can tell they only have 1 slow song. This is good as too many artists rely on slow songs as being related somehow to serious credibility – solo artists are particularly guilty of this and it’s something to be avoided. There’s a lot of good commercial R&B such as producer Rich Harrison who did ‘I Thing’ by Amerie and ‘Crazy in Love’ by Beyonce. Timberland is also worth keeping an ear on.

Also been driving to gigs up and down the country a lot this past year so it’s been road music like Credence Clearwater Revival (well, their greatest hits which is the most honest greatest hits of all time – only 8 songs!) and a Rocksteady Soul compilation with Duke Reid’s hits on.

What’s so great about Cardiff?

Minimal slow songs
We have a castle

What are your upcoming band plans?

Finish the first album (we’re about 5 songs away), get it released somehow, try and get a manager, actually all the usual stuff that bands try for. I’m eager to finish these songs that we’ve been playing for about a year now and start work on the next album which is going to be more orchestral and much more interesting.

Which has been your favourite and least favourite gig you’ve played?

Favourite – Our Electric Pro ms homecoming gig in Cardiff’s Clwb Ifor Bach – all our friends were there, it was a full club and we played alright and people danced.

Least – Last Friday at Cardiff’s Barfly. I wasn’t in the mood and it felt very fake on stage so I stopped the gig early and went home – no point in carrying on playing bad.

Who is your most famous fan, or the most famous person that owns one of your records?

Diana Ross has recently asked me to be her MySpace friend although it may be a corporation controlling the MySpace – although you never can tell I said yes anyway.
Radio 1’s Bethan Elfyn, Adam Walton and Huw Stephens have been very nice to us this past year.

What does your family think of your music?

My dad is ambivalent – he likes certain songs and others he asks “are you on drugs or what?”
My mum by default would like it if I made a dirty protest on a pig farm

What’s on your stereo RIGHT NOW?

Steve Reich’s 18 Musicians from my Christmas present box set of his – Phases, my favourite present.

What are the best and worst local bands yo u’ve seen recently?

Best – Hornby Pylons: electronica reminiscent of Plone/Warp Records and 2 Many DJs
Sweet Baboo – country with an acoustic Spiritualised/Daniel Johnston feel
Samba Gales – all drumming band
Bad bands are not worth mentioning

What is your favourite useless fact?

Ginger Beer contains the preservative E211

Do you feel much affiliation with any community with regards to the music that you create/release?


You’ve been asked to contribute to a charity covers album. Which song(s) would you most likely cover?

The Shaggs: Philosophy of the World
Captain Beefheart: Moonlight on Vermont
The Supremes: Where Did Our Love Go

Using limitless reserves of cash and powers of resurrection, what would be your fantasy band lineup?

Diana Ross – Vocals
Frank Sinatra – Vocals
Bai Hong – Vocals
Theloneous Monk (how do you spell it?) – Melodica
Steve Reich – Vibes
Ringo Starr – Drums
John Entwhistle – French Horn
David Byrne, Tommy Cooper- Sampler/found sounds
Alice Coltrane – Harp
Eric Satie, Shooby Taylor – Violin
Irving Berlin – songwriter
Glen Miller – arrangments

At first it sounds like a bad idea but thinking about it this would be the greatest band of all time! I’d call them – Miller Time

What are the last couple of albums you bought and are they any good?

Joanna Newsom: Ys. Doesn’t really hold my attention. A wasted effort unfortunately. I found the string arrangements on her new album a bit pedestrian and ironically, I think her debut is more complex and in depth musically – well the harp songs are anyway.

Talking Heads: Fear of Music. Brilliant – worth it for I Zimbra and Life During Wartime alone

Dexy’s Midnight Runners: Never Let Me Down (I think?). Took it back, too much talky bits. Rule 63 – never talk in a record.

Phil Spector Box Set. Before he decided to become a murderer. He sure could write them hits.

More information:

Records we can buy:
– Leader of the Chain Gang – self released single, only available from Spillers Records Cardiff (oldest record shop in the world, Guinness fans) and me, Spencer.
– The Unfilmable Life and Life Of… – On the ‘This Town Ain’t Big Enough For The 22 Of Us’ compilation (Twisted By Design Records)