|Horror, Sex and Rock n Roll- the cornerstones of the UK band SPiT LiKE THiS (SLT). With a lead singer that would put Tim Curry to shame, and a band that looks and sounds like the Misfits meets Alice Cooper's makeup artist, SPiT LiKE THiS is cracking the code on glam, shock rock, and the business of music.|
Currently, on the verge of coughing up the loogie known as break through stardom, I had the chance to break through 5 time zones and speak with Lord Zion, lead singer, resident gender bender and universe turner of all things SPiT LiKE THiS related...
Joined by ViKKi SPiT, on bass, CYNDi ROTT on guitar and ViLE GiLEZ on drums... SLT has quickly earned the reputation of not being your "mum's" band. Not ones to wait for fame, SPiT LiKE THiS is just the expectorant you've been needing to eject music mediocrity....
Let's start off with something like your passport application--how did SPiT LiKE THiS form and who did you have to sleep with in the UK to become a Lord?
SLT: SPiT LiKE THiS formed, kind of, one drunken night several years back. I met ViKKi SPiT at a club in south London and we immediately hit it off. She was kind of like the girl version of me and we shared extremely similar views on what the Perfect rock band should be. Thankfully, she had been playing bass for a few years already so we decided to pursue this mad idea. The name came about from a spitting contest we had that night. Her attempts were quite feeble and I was trying to teach her to "spit like this". When we were thinking of the band name, that leapt out of nowhere. Has a cool punky resonance to it.
We released a couple of EP's to great reviews but we were still formulating our dastardly vision. When it was time to finish the band line-up, we stumbled across our drummer, ViLE GiLEZ. He was as mad as us (albeit for different reasons) and he "got" what we were trying to do. He has been a recurring dream (nightmare?) ever since. There was a point in time where we had a keyboard player, but we fired him for being a thief, liar and a general Bad Bloke. Ugly too. Couldn't be bothered to replace him we wanted more room on stage so didn't. We also had a different guitar player once upon a time, but he left to pursue a different dream which is when we found CYNDi ROTT. Or rather, Cyndi found us. And thank God we did! Unbelievably, he also "got" what we do and we have been thick as thieves ever since.
As for my Lordship, you have to sleep with the Queen to get one of those. Either that or it is passed down to you from your Father, your Father's Father and-so-on. Seeing as I come from a regular kind of family, can you guess which route I took?
Your music has a similar feel to a great rock opera like Rocky Horror, perhaps Hedwig and the Angry Inch... Is there any significance to this?
SLT: It is significant only because people kept bringing it up. The SPiT LiKE THiS approach to life has been part-Horror, part-Sex and part-Rock'n'Roll. The three ingredients that we share with the Rocky Horror Show. When I sing, I do sing in quite an English fashion which is good as that is where I come from so I guess people draw that similarity. I sing with character, something sadly lacking from most singers these days, and a lot of the time what I sing about is tongue-in-cheek.
After several reviews compared us to Rocky Horror, we decided to embrace it by covering a song from the play, "Sweet Transvestite". We surprised ourselves by how good it was so recorded a version to send to Richard O'Brien (Rocky Horror creator) for his approval. "Fab spin on an old favourite", was his response, so we're quite pleased about that. Every show we do we play that song and it is a great ice-breaker. Shortly after that, I am quite free to whip the audience quite literally into a frenzy.
You mention Hedwig. A glorious film full of incredible songs. If I had digested that movie as a child, I am sure that I would now be wearing large blonde wigs on stage. But I didn't, so I don't. It is fantastic though and, if you are reading this and haven't seen it, shame on you. Don't see John Cameron Mitchell's other movie, "Short Bus" though. Hideously disappointing, unless you like penises. Oh and your readers should know that any Hedwig influence does not extend to the trouser department what on EARTH were you implying?!.
Let's talk about your current full length cd--What is the direction the band is going with it? World Wide Domination or regional household recognition?
SLT: Our musical direction is the same as it ever was. We create and define the SPiT LiKE THiS sound. There are zillions of bands out there churning out the same boring dirge as each other and I just don't get it. So many want to be the next Guns n' Roses or the next Motley Crue. Why? We just want to be the first SPiT LiKE THiS. The thing is, if you simply mimic your heroes, why should someone buy into you? It isn't real, which is why people will still buy a Motley Crue album before a wannabe-Motley Crue's album. The great bands shook their influences by the hand and threw it into a big melting pot to get their own style and sound. That's what we have done and people either love it or they don't. But, fact of the matter is, if anyone wants music that sounds like us, they have only one choice of where to go.
Of course, we aspire to World Wide Domination who doesn't? In the UK, we kind of have household recognition, in the right circles. We know that what we do travels well, has an edge of commerciality to it that means it could cross over to the mainstream. But we would never contrive to achieve that. We don't chase any audience, we just do what we do and let them come to us. If that in turn means that we one day explode into a huge Global Phenomenon, so be it.
You've played with everyone from the Misfits to Tesla to the Damned...is there one particular show that stands out and why?
SLT: I think it has to be the Misfits. Musically, I prefer Twisted Sister (another awesome band we have played with) but the Misfits themselves and their crew was the most amazing bunch of people you could ever hope to meet on tour. We have played with some big names and some used-to-be-big names; unfortunately, it is that latter group that tends to suck balls the most. Mainly arrogant with chips on their shoulders. So, to be honest, we were kind of expecting the Misfits to be the same if we even met them but, boy, were we wrong!
Jerry came over and introduced himself to us and continued to make us feel like one of the family for the night. He took a particular shine to Vikki, giving her several sets of his bass strings and re-stringing both of her basses for her. He then gave her tips on how to break the strings in fast and then shared family photos with her. On this occasion, Jerry's son was with them, doing their sound, and he was another nice guy. Basically, anything we wanted, they went out of their way to provide. We have kept in touch with them since, sending over T-shirts for Jerry, his son and daughter. They truly made us feel like family and showed us how to treat the support band something we will remember when we are in the same position.
So there's a theory about guitars in glam rock....which do you prefer to see strapped over Cyndi Rotts crotch? Les Paul or Strat ...is it looks or is it sound?
SLT: On the album, Cyndi used several different guitars to achieve several different sounds capes depending on what the song deserved. He didn't use a Les Paul, preferring his vintage SG for most of the rhythm tracks. We'll leave the Les Paul's to the Slash wannabes. He did use a Strat on a couple of songs too, for the glassier sounds.
Cyndi is a cool player he prefers to let the sounds come from the guitar and amp rather than a bank of effects. His heroes are all dead guys from the 70's so he makes that guitar wail and shreak and howl. Sounds incredible and has added such an amazing texture to the overall SLT sound. Live he uses an Iceman. The SG is a bit too noisy. The Iceman is a great all-rounder but I know that, when time and money permits, he'll be swapping guitars for each song, as it should be!
What are you listening to at the moment?
SLT: The television that's on in the other room. Scrapheap Challenge, whateverthehell that is. Musically I am refreshing myself of Love/Hate as we are opening for them next week. I have very diverse musical tastes, liking, quite literally, ABBA to ZZ Top!
What other bands have influenced you? At first listen I hear a mixture of Transvision Vamp, Zodiac Mindwarp & The Love Reaction with a minty twist of Sigue Sigue Sputnik.... How far off the mark am I?
SLT: Well, I wouldn't claim any of those to be musical influences (apologies to Zodiac M if he is reading this we've played with them a few times, another bunch of guys that get a nod for being Bloody Good People). I do recall that I used to fancy the singer from Transvision Vamp. I also recall that she bet Madonna £1 million that she would win an Oscar before she did. What dark recess did that memory come from? Thankfully for Wendy Williams (was that her name?), Madonna is a shite actress.
The stuff that I think has most influenced me, my music and my style are, in no particular order: Adam Ant / Adam And The Ants, The Sex Pistols, Queen, Marc Bolan / T-Rex, Kiss, Frankie Goes To Hollywood, Kid Rock, Motley Crue, Metallica and anything in between. Thing is, from all of the above, I learned different things. Adam Ant and the Sex Pistols, it was all about the Punk attitude, something that I retain to this day (I should point out that the Sex Pistols were long defunct when I got into them, so maybe there was a lot of hype, but the message came through loud and clear). A lot of people forget that Adam Ant was a true punk before he became successful. And even that success was an ethically Punk one. Queen, Marc Bolan how can you not love that stuff? Style and panache that is what I got from that. Kiss & FGTH taught me about marketing a band with clever ideas. Kid Rock gave me the wisdom to avoid genres. The Crue gave me good times and Metallica the rhythm.
The thing is, I am still being influenced by stuff today. Anything I listen to or watch changes a tiny imperceptible bit of me, and that is an influence. Let music excite you, ignore genres, get your head out of your ass and ideas just wash over you like a tidal wave. Anyway, if you know where to listen, you will find nods to most of the above in our music and many more.
What influences your writing? Personal experiences, what you observe, movies, chicks, etc?
|"My ambition is just to present an honest version of myself to the world. In return, the world can either take or leave it."|
SLT: Anything at all. My style is eclectic, ranging from pure story telling to autobiographical to whimsical to nonsensical. And that's the way it should be. Some of the messages are loud and clear, some of them will only appeal to a small minority, some the world would understand, and others are To Be Confirmed. Writing a song can sometimes be similar to Spirit Writing, the phenomenon where a Medium (segue way why are Mediums mostly large? - end) channels a Spirit and scrawls down messages supposedly from this Spirit. So, most of the time, I don't know what I'm writing about until I get to the end of the song, look at it and go "Oh, I see". Makes it quite exciting for me. Something I have managed to avoid thankfully - is anything nob-wilting like a Bon Jovi ballad. Ughk.
Let's talk about glam rock and the obvious association with war paint. SPiT LiKE THiS is not afraid of a little eyeliner and mascara and for example, KISS was known for presenting their personas with a little help from clown white- so who influenced your eyeliner and what brand do you use?
SLT: I think the eyeliner was influenced from hazy memories of All Those Cool 80's bands. The singer from the Human League springs to mind. I loved the androgyny. Why should we be put in boxes labeled Male and Female and then be forced to follow a strict sense of rules and regulations determined by what is in between your legs? What utter nonsense. So I set about challenging all of that stuff when I was still at school. Not much fun at the time it didn't make me popular but I soon learnt who my friends were. And I have carried that through into adult life. Or at least I will, when I finally get around to Adulthood. As for the brand, I am not brand loyal so, if Maybelline or L'Oreal wants to endorse my eyeballs, they are quite free to make me an offer I can refuse.
As a man in the music business do you ever experience the "Jon Bovi syndrome" where because you are eye candy you have to work harder at the music to be taken seriously?
SLT: "As a man in the music business" tsk, read my answer above. I'm not a fan of those little boxes. Did you know that certain tribes have 6 different sexes? Let me explain. Imagine a line and, far left, you have the Uber Male. You know the sort, bald by the time he is 21, deep voice, likes fighting a lot. On the other end of the scale you have the epitome of a woman. Extremely feminine and delicate in all her actions. Couldn't be more girlie if she had a pair of tits on her forehead. Then add four more marks on that line, equidistant from each other and, as you move from left to right, take away some Manly traits and add some Womanly traits. Somewhere in the middle you have Gays and Lesbians and, either side of that, you have the Woman that can hang with the guys and the Men that like a bit of make-up.
I suppose I should answer your actual question. Um, no, can't say I have. Maybe that is something that happens in the US but not the UK. Vikki does experience that. Some readers might be wondering if Cyndi does as well, but he is a man with a girl's name, so mostly that is where the trouble begins and ends. Vikki gets it a lot though; people are often surprised that she knows one end of a guitar from another. She gets to change people's preconceptions on a nightly basis.
Do you think that the more recent technology advancements, things like MySpace, instant messenger and text messaging are having a positive impact or a negative impact? Is it helping to get your music to the masses? Do you think it means the eventual demise of ye olde record company?
SLT: I think it is too early to tell. Technology has changed things and record companies are being very slow to react. They must change their business models now or some of them will be gone in a few years' time. The downside is, sites like MySpace have opened the floodgates for a million shitty "bands" to make a little site and proclaim themselves to be the Next Big Thing. And that makes it hard for career-bands to stand out. Also, from a punter's point of view, it is harder for them to find great music.
Everyone has a hard-on about MySpace and DiY records et cetera at the moment but, the fact of the matter is, for every band that finds success that route, there are a million bands that do not. So far, a record label will stand a better chance of breaking a new act than for an act to hit the Zeitgeist within an internet community.
I am not anti-label at all. I think they do exploit a lot of bands but, in return, those bands get exposure that they would not get otherwise. So it is a bit of a trade-off. Money is not my God so I am not motivated by it. My ambition is just to present an honest version of myself to the world. In return, the world can either take or leave it. Those that are vehemently anti-label tend to simply want the extra money they think they would get if they went the DiY route. The fools.
Let's digress and talk about smellyourmum.com...you and your partner in Bonnie and Clyde style crime Vikki Spit, are the brainchild's behind the company that is making wearable shock rock billboards.. Is the Queen at all concerned?
SLT: I should explain, smellyourmum.com was set up by Vikki and I to a) fund our share of SPiT LiKE THiS and, b) provide us with money so we could avoid getting proper jobs whilst persuing our rock n roll dream. It worked out waaaaaaaaay better than we could have hoped and, in the UK, it is now a highly recognized brand. Everything is done in-house: I design all the logos, come up with the slogans, and write the website. Vikki prints the tees whilst not wearing many clothes. Anyone that buys from us is buying a true rock artifact and also is helping fund Rock. Where else can you do that?
I suspect the Queen is not aware of us. Ever since my liaison with Her Maj to get my Lordship, she doesn't write any more. She's a whore in that sense. Love em and Leave em Lizzy, that's what she's known as in the Palace.
Hmmm, do you think the above paragraph constitutes treason? I only ask as treason is the only crime still punishable by death in the UK. Best watch my back.
If you could pick your dream tour who would you want to be the opening act?
SLT: I would imagine that to be a band that currently does not exist. Barely any of my heroes are alive, let alone perform any more and, besides, it would be foolish to suggest them as an opening act. I have little interest in current bands as my whole life is devoted to SLT and what we do. I cannot spend any energy or brain power on anyone else. To be honest, as long as we are headlining this tour of yours, that is all that matters. Unless, of course, someone reading this is in a big band that wants to take us on tour. In that case, my dream tour would be us and them.
So, when you aren't channeling Marc Bolin, what would you call a day off? Do you live the role 24/7 or is there another side to Lord Zion?
SLT: The Day Off is a work of fiction. It certainly doesn't exist in my life. This is it, 24/7. No escape. What I am is this; this is what I am. On my fingers I have tattooed the words "Real" and "Fake" this is because I am in a Fake business but wish to remain Real to myself. It's a good reminder, a way of keeping me in check.
Let's talk about the future of SPiT LiKE THiS - where do you see yourself and your music going?
SLT: I think 2008 is going to be even more exciting than 2007. We did a lot in '07--played some great shows opening for some big acts, played the main stage at the Hard Rock Hell festival (headlined by Twisted Sister), recorded our debut album and made a lot of new friends, fans, allies and enemies. At the time of writing (Dec '07), we have shipped our album to every major label (and some Indies) on the planet and we are now getting the feedback from that. We have a major in the UK interested (plus several Indies) and are talking to labels in Europe and Japan. By the time this interview is released, I know we will have heard from many more labels in even more countries maybe even America.
So, the first quarter of 2008 will be sorting out the wretched deals. We will then spend the remainder of 2008 promoting that album with appearances and tours on any part of the planet that will have us. We have scheduled sleep for the early part of 2009. I do think that we have something to offer, both musically and inspirationally to the global stage. When people fall in love with SPiT LiKE THiS, they fall in love with more than just a band, or the four people within it. They fall in love with the concept, the way of life. We and our music represent freedom and fun two things that are getting harder and harder to come by. We are for real and our fans know that. People look up to us because we are living proof that you can achieve a certain level of success by defining your OWN rules and living by them. The first rule of SPiT LiKE THiS is There Are No Rules.
Any final thoughts for the readers of MaximumMetal?
My chance to be Jerry Springer, eh? OK, well, look after Mum (Mom). Be yourself, whoever that may be. Beware of strangers. Drive carefully. Embrace life. Evolution, not Creationalism (puh-lease!). Stop giving Kevin Smith a hard time. And stop electing idiotic Presidents that moron is going to get us all killed!
Quick plug for websites: please visit www.spitlikethis.com, add us on www.myspace.com/spitlikethisuniverse and support rock n roll by buying merch from www.smellyourmum.com
Thank you to Strutter and Maximum Metal for this opportunity to reach some new people \m/