Neil Spies has his gun set to S.T.U.N.
How is the Warped Tour?
Good, but Texas is hot as hell.
I hear that.
Yeah and we just came from Sacramento and it was like a hundred and twenty degrees.
How do you deal with the heat on-stage?
We deal with it pretty easy I think. Our show is so energetic that we don’t notice.
I’m curious about the cover of the album with the guy and the target on his back, what is up with that?
The cover is kind of thought provoking. There are ideas behind some of the things that we did. Some give a feel for the record and some are mysterious. Overall the cover is supposed to exemplify the record with look and feel. The target doesn’t mean anything.
When people hear your music do you want them to get the message or are you just happy if they dig the music?
I don’t think you can listen to it and not get an idea of what is going on. It’s not force feed. There are a lot of messages in the music and some of them are left up to interpretation. Some are information and some are just thoughts.
What comes first the message, music?
Honestly none of it comes first. It all comes together. I do write the lyrics first and paint a picture. When I was growing up I felt they all came at once and played the emotion through the music communicating with the lyrics. So it was a full throttle assault. Either it is sexual liberation or feelings that are suppressed or politics like Morrissey or Depeche Mode would write about or politics with Strummer.
What was the first group that made you think about the lyrics as much as the music?
Morrissey and Robert Smith. Their lyrics hit me right off the bat and the music went along with it. The things that Morrissey was saying were suppressed from most youth and he was talking for you. You could feel the bravery in his lyrics. With the Cure it was the darkness of his lyrics. What was great about Robert Smith was that he painted you a world that you could step into. I learned a lot about sound from that right into Super Furry Animals. When you hear a Cure record you are in a different place like a graveyard or something.
I love the Super Furry Animals, they don’t get the recognition in the States that they should.
I think they are one of the top ten most important bands in the world right now, maybe top five.
When did you put the band together and did you have an idea of the direction you wanted to take?
I had already six of the songs written, they weren’t completed, written when I got together with Christian. There was a strong identity and we only got stronger when we got together and we became a gang with a reason. You can’t stop a gang with a reason.
Do you think punk rock we hear today is totally watered down?
Honestly I don’t think there is much punk rock today.
I see the music industry grasping at straws today and calling everything punk from Avril Lavigne to pathetically John Meyer. My definition of punk rock is something that is timely and is challenging. That isn’t bands that are doing pop songs that came out in the 70’s and changing the lyrics.
Labeling something punk rock doesn’t make it so.
Exactly. I think we are ready for a musical revolution and people will put a new name on it.
Some of the last punk rock bands were Public Enemy.
I think Nirvana were punk rock. I think Refused was the last punk band.
Do you remember how you got into groups like the Sex Pistols?
I fell in love with them when they came out. I loved the intensity of the record. Steve Jones’ guitar riffs were driving and [John] Lydon you can’t turn your head away from his voice. He pissed off parents and kids loved them. I was taken over by the band in general.
Do you think these new punk rock kids think they are really hard asses but they go to award shows, kiss ass and play the part of a pop star not a punk rocker.
Yeah it’s like Barry Manilow with a Mohawk. (We both laugh) You can quote me on that.
I like the day when punk rock groups would say things suck and speak their minds. I like when Chuck D. raised points about the government and drugs. He was the news for youth.
My theory on that is music goes through about 8-10 year phase where they try to rehash something great. We had our days of Jane’s Addiction and Nirvana and Refused slipped in behind the industry’s back. You get something that is good and the record industry puts all their money behind that and push it until they tap it clean. I think that is what we are seeing now. It is getting pathetic. It’s like cheese popcorn. We are getting ready for a big change. When you stifle something for so long it blows up on you.
Nirvana was a great example of that.
Right. Before Nirvana hit we had to deal with the early 80’s scene and then we saw ten years of that crap.
How do you view the MP3 issue. You probably grew up like me where you would get mix tapes from friends and learn about punk rock that way. Do you think the industry missed the boat and could have made more money off it rather than stifling it?
I think they should have embraced it. I think it would have been more profitable. I don’t care if they are winning or not I. I don’t care if people are trading MP3s. I’m a big believer of Steal This Book and so on.
You obviously have a lot better vantage point than I do about this so I don’t think it’s fair that the press speak out with their thoughts because they aren’t taking money from me.
Right. I think that real music fans that are listening for the right reasons will get the artwork anyway. What interest me most are the real fans.
I remember getting mix tapes as a kid with Exploited and DRI and I would buy the record.
Exactly. I would get tapes with like twenty different bands and if I liked a certain band I’d go buy it.
I found Suicidal Tendencies and Exploited that way.
That’s how I found the Pixies. The Pixies saved my life along with a lot of other groups.
Is there any other feeling like playing live?
The only other thing is making a record, but it’s a whole other world because you have to wait longer. You do get to step into a different world when making a record. I think what everyone is looking for is freedom and I don’t think there is a better way to feel that than on-stage.
It has to feel amazing to have people clapping and screaming for you.
It’s almost like being on another plane. You don’t even know anything. When we run into each other it’s never staged and is always crossing the line. What I love about STUN is not about looking down but to keep moving forward.
For someone that is just getting into the group is there anything you would tell them to do to open their mind to a movement or cause?
I would definitely tell them to look at the true history of America. They should look for people like Daniel Quinn and read about the true history of the world. I think that anyone who was to look would be surprised just how different it is from what they were taught. You have to be aware of what is going on in this world and protect themselves from the possible of the futures of the wrong path.
The People’s History of the United States of America is a great book for that.
That is a great book.
That book really bothered me.
But didn’t it also make you feel empowered like make you feel good that you found something out and didn’t feel so snowed over?
Yeah. But what really made me feel good was reading about the founding fathers. I have a feeling that Thomas Jefferson wouldn’t agree with what is happening today.
That is what that lyric in “Love And Chaos” is about it says ‘we are too busy paying our way for someone else’s mistakes’.
I think it is important for people to recognize what has happened.
Nothing can beat the truth in this world.
[Below is a shameless appeal to our ego which we couldn’t help but add to this interview.. we love getting props]
We hope you can spread the word.
I think what you guys do is hugely important. You help perceive music and bands genuinely and in the right direction. I tell you what, music is the most powerful medium in the world and if we can help get it back on track then we are going to have a much better place to be in. We are just a moment away. With a mass of people we can turn it around.
That is the exciting part about or country.
The breakthrough happens overnight so let’s make sure we get it done right. It’s me and you and the rest of the music industry doing it and we know it’s real.
I appreciate the time.
I appreciate the intelligent questions.
I appreciate talking to someone that actually gave me some answers. (We both laugh)
+ Charlie Craine