SPICE are a new project comprised of Ross Farrar (vocals) and Jake Casarotti (drums), both of Ceremony, along with Cody Sullivan (bass), Ian Simpson (guitar), and Victoria Skudlarek (violin). They have just put out their debut album and it’s quite a powerful and emotional first deliver. We caught up with Ross to know more about their new band, their LP creative approach and how they are dealing with what’s happening in our world and with independent music.
How are you dealing with everything that’s happening in our world/society, especially in the USA?
Most of us are dealing with it insularly. Since Covid19 struck, staying inside is of utmost importance, so much of the action is taking place through various internet platforms. When George Floyd was murdered, we took to the streets to protest, and now we’re finding out that another wave of Covid19 is spreading, so it’s a very double-edged sword. We want justice, but we also don’t want to kill anyone with this world flu. And with that, it’s hard to have faith in conglomerate media outlets: CBS, CNN, FOX, etc., because they have their agendas and biases too. A lot of what’s happening, how we’re getting raw news is through Instagram and Facebook, people posting horrendous videos of bigots, and racists, and fascists acting out in vicious ways, and it’s all very horrifying, but necessary as well. Our world consciousness is changing, people are waking up to the injustices we’ve been locked in for hundreds of years.
I was only two minutes into my first listen of SPICE when I initially asked about an interview with you guys. The impact was instant. Was there an intention to create a sense of urgency in your music while using a more methodical approach to composition?
With any work of art, it’s important to call our audience in. The first painting in a series, the first sentence in a book, the song on a record, should open the door and greet. “First Feeling” is a very repetitive and simple song, and we think it calls back to our primitive selves. It has a driving rhythm to it, and the lyrics aren’t so straight forward where you write them off as simple or easy to digest. They’re a bit mysterious, but also plainly spoken, so maybe that is where its power comes in. This whole business of creating is very difficult and mysterious. Who knows why certain things call to us more than others. But yes, we always want to create a sense of urgency in our music. If there’s no urgency, there are no stakes.
How would you describe SPICE’s sound?
When and how did you all join forces to start this brand-new project?
Most of us have been friends for a decade-plus, and have played in bands with each other, or have been friends with band members, or friends of friends of band members, etc. We grew up in a town about forty-five minutes north of San Francisco, so when any music youth-centered music scene sprung up we had our grimly little fingers in it. Someone needed a drummer, or a cable, or a place to play. Therefore, friendships started and you know how these things go.
What’s the story behind the album’s last song “I Don’t Want To Die in New York”?
I was finishing a grad program and living in Syracuse, NY. during the writing process. The band would send me tracks, and I’d write according to emotion. That particular song haunted me. It sounds sad and nostalgic, and a bit angry, so I tried to parrot those feelings. The lyrics are pretty self-explanatory. I was really going through it then.
30 years ago, Fugazi game changed everything and released Repeater. Any thoughts about it?
It’s funny you should say that. We have a drawer here in LA with a bunch of old tapes, and Repeater is one we pulled out recently, and it went through heavy rotation for about a week there. It’s weird, sometimes when a certain record is coming up on a big anniversary, we’ll unknowingly put it on and pump it up. The object presents itself. That record in particular is such a powerful organism. Fugazi is one of those bands that feels bottomless, even though they put out a finite group of records. We revisit them every year or so and find something new we missed before. “Shut the Door” is a high inspiration. “Greed” is wonderful in its brevity.
Do you see SPICE as a project that could continue for a long time?
Yes. We hope to one day be bottomless.
Any thoughts about what the future holds for independent music during and post this pandemic?
We’d like to see artists and musicians be paid better. We put so much time into this and get so little. It really can be a bummer to see how things have changed. Now, there were a lot of terrible things that happened in the old days with bands signing and getting screwed over, and all the terrible things that can happen in such a glorified, capitalistic system, but can we at least pay the bills doing this? As it stands now–no.
In your opinion what is the best we can all support and help independent music during this pandemic?
Bandcamp is a nice platform. They give to their artists and help as much as they can. They’re philanthropists of sorts, giving to righteous charities when they can, and supporting the good fight. Also, simply reaching out to bands you like and asking if you can buy directly from them is always easy. We’re all very connected nowadays, but the personable stuff, like simply sending a message or an email of praise can go a long way. I think we’re forgetting about that.