A rather familiar presence around here, Spammerheads, the energetic and creative electronic music moniker of the Valencian unit David & Ana, combine Old-School EBM /Industrial and Techno in their most personal work to date, the recent EP “Tar Blood / Cement Skin”, to recreate “the sound of the Great Machine of Industry at full throttle.”
Let’s hear more from David himself…
Thanks so much for the interview. Let’s start with your early teen years, When did music first become part of your life? What were the early bands/artists to fire your imagination?
I started listening to music with the tapes my uncle brought me. In these tapes there were 80’s DJ sessions from clubs like Spook Factory, Barraca, or Chocolate. Those tapes blew my mind because I listened for the first time to The Ramones, The Clash, Front 242, Nitzer Ebb, The Cramps, Pixies, A Split Second, The Neon Judgement, Bauhaus, The Cult, The Fuzztones or The Sisters of Mercy. I was 10 or 11 years old and I was listening to all those bands while my schoolmates were humming Whitney Houston or Madonna. When the double deck tapes came out, I had to record tapes for everyone.
How did Spammerheads come into being? What were the ideas, inspirations and motivations behind the project? What informed initially the sound?
In the beginning, Spammerheads started out very experimental. We were learning and we were looking to see just how far we could go with our sound and our compositions. We worked mostly with live recordings using a 16-track analog board that gave it a retro sound that we loved. The first 3 recordings were the learning phase for us. After that, we started working on the turn toward EBM, Industrial music, and synthpunk that we wanted from the beginning. From there came “Bricks For Reconstruction”.
How did you meet? What do you most admire/detest about each other?
Ana and I met at a concert of The Undersubs in Valencia, at 16 Toneladas. We ended up at my house listening to music and we never left each other’s side. I remember that same night I told her half-jokingly that we were going to start an industrial music duo. And who would have thought: here we are! I like many things about Ana, if not everything. But on a musical level, I would highlight her capacity for learning and her high demands. She is very demanding with herself and also with the band. I’m a bit like that too, although I’m much lazier. She is a very hard worker and we both pull on each other to keep the project moving forward.
As I was intrigued by a The Stems t-shirt worn by Ana, you told me that both cut your teeth in the Valencia rock and roll, garage, and punk-rock DIY scene…
Yes, I’ve been playing punk-rock and garage-punk bands for 25 years. Although I actually started making industrial music with a friend and a couple of Commodore Amiga 500 computers in the early 90s. We were 16 or 17 years old. Then I bought a guitar and started buying or stealing Rock and Roll, Punk-Rock and Garage-Punk records. The Stooges, The Cramps, The Sonics, Dead Boys, Mighty Caesars, The Heartbreakers, New Bomb Turks, Sex Pistols, and The Ramones…. stuff like that. I’ve played in different bands, but basically two: Tail and The Undersubs.
When and how did your attraction and passion for electronic music come about? What were the early bands/artists to fire your imagination? As I was heavy, among others, into Drum&Bass and Big Beat sound in the 90s, I was intrigued to hear elements of the latter in some of your tracks…
Well, apart from the old-school EBM bands I mentioned before, I started listening to other bands thanks to a high school classmate who lent me vinyl copies of Kraftwerk, Tangerine Dream, Klaus Schulze, and other late 70’s bands. In the 90’s I discovered bands like Autechre, Chemical Brothers, or The Prodigy. Big-Beat marked the electronic music in the 90s, and although now it seems old-fashioned for some, in reality (and simplifying a lot) for me it is EBM with funky drums. In essence, I don’t find much difference between a great song by The Prodigy or Chemical Brothers and another one by Front 242 or The Neon Judgement. Both are important influences for us.
Have and how your upbringing and cultural Valencia/Spanish surroundings influenced and shaped your sound and artistic leanings and developments? What is your take on the Spanish underground music scene?
Of course, our city and our environment have influenced us a lot. Ana and I are both working class and it shows. Also the scene of our city has marked us. We can’t talk much about the scene in other Spanish cities, but Valencia is undoubtedly one of the world’s musical capitals. Maybe most of the projects and bands that we have around here will never make it to the outside world, but those of us who live in and around Valencia can enjoy this incredible effervescence. Bands of Garage-Punk, Punk-Rock, Electronic, Post-punk, Power-Pop, Rock and Roll, Hard-Rock, Industrial… Besides, right now 2 or 3 generations are coming together at the same time and that has enriched the scene a lot.
What was your first instrument? When did you start using synthesizers?
The first instrument I started using (apart from the Commodore Amiga 500) was the guitar. I bought first a Spanish one and then an electric one. I also pounded the drums from time to time. I started with synthesizers in 2019. On my birthday, my friends gave me a Korg Monotron Delay and I spent the whole night out making little noises completely fascinated. Ana gave me that same day a Korg Volca Sample and from then on I was hooked.
Which other forms of arts (cinema, literature, photography…) inspire and possibly interact with your music?
Ana and I like movies very much. And we love listening to movie soundtracks. Maybe that’s why our music has so much narrativity and often seems like a soundtrack too. In the beginning, we analyzed a lot of the soundtracks of Brad Fiedel, Vangelis, or John Carpenter (this is more noticeable in our first works like “Earth Reset” or “Espai, Temps i Matèria”). We also like literature and plastic art (we both studied History of Art at the University of Valencia).
Which artists, albums or live performances changed your perception of rock & roll in an indelible and crucial way?
I remember some albums that shocked me and left me in a catatonic state when I heard them for the first time: ‘Velvet Underground & Nico’ (The Velvet Underground), ‘Surfer Rosa’ (Pixies), ‘Trans Europe Express’ (Kraftwerk), ‘Funhouse’ (The Stooges), ‘Freedom of Choice’ (Devo), ‘Goo’ (Sonic Youth), ‘Destroy Oh Boy’ (New Bomb Turks), ‘Pipes at the Gates of Dawn’ (Pink Floyd), ‘Front by Front’ (Front 242)… to name a few. Although maybe tomorrow I’ll tell you about others.
How does your compositional process work and how do you put your ideas together?
With “Bricks for Reconstruction”, we started a working methodology that we developed with “Tar Blood / Cement Skin”, where all the songs are composed together and recorded together. Now we know each other’s strengths and what our job is when it comes to making a song. All of this always contributes ideas equally. Our work dynamic is now very clear and that makes us quite productive.
Let’s talk about the previous works where you ‘experimented to find your personal sound’, starting with the immersive blend of atmospheric, spatial and futuristic Techno, IDM, Ambient, and Electro, namely the first and second albums “Earth Reset” and “Sound Of Spam” and “Earth Reset”, both dropped in 2020.
“Sound of Spam”, “Earth Reset” and “Espai, Temps i Matèria” are works that are part of what we call the learning phase. We had no rules, we always started from a concept and based on that concept we were creating the music, recording it almost always live with an analog 16-track. As if it were a soundtrack. It was very exciting and fun. I remember that, for example, “Earth Reset” was recorded during the lockout. While we were recording, we could hear people clapping on the balconies and in the windows. All that influenced the recording, of course.
How and why did you draw into EBM & Industrial stuff with last year’s “Bricks for Reconstruction” album?
Making EBM and Industrial music was always our ultimate goal of the project, and in fact, in our previous works, we already left some hints of it. After this learning phase, which we enjoyed a lot, we realized that we were ready to take a turn and work on our own sound (with influences from old-school EBM, Synthpunk, and Industrial music). Ana worked very hard on the sound design, marking the path in “Bricks for Reconstruction” that we have followed in “Tar Blood / Cement Skin.”
What can you tell us about the background, creation and concept behind the new EP, I believe your most accomplished work to date, with the introduction for the first time of quite resonant vocals…
Well, one of the goals of making Industrial music for us was to show what we both experienced as kids and that’s basically what we’ve gone for with this work. For us, industrial music has a meaning beyond the clubs and the dancefloor, and there’s nothing romantic about it. The noise of the factories occupied a good part of our childhood, coming through the windows of the school or houses. When you heard the sirens in the afternoon, you knew that half an hour later my father would appear through the door covered in sawdust. Those factories were horrible places, dark, and deafening, with no ventilation and no work safety measures. Our parents put up with all that shit so we wouldn’t have to, so it was our duty to escape from there. And we did. In part, this job pays tribute to them.
Are you a vinyl collector? Eventually, what are the pieces, not necessarily rare, you’re more fond/proud of?
Yes, we are vinyl buyers but not collectors per se, but we have a few at home. Actually, I’m fond of all of them, but especially of the vinyl from bands of my friends or projects in which I’ve participated (Wau and the Arrrgs, Undersubs, Tail, Ukelele Zombies, Spammerheads…)
As you possibly grew up like me at first with the few alternative music-minded fanzines, shops, and radio stations around and maybe some trips to London, later with Myspace and Soundcloud, how do you weigh music-wise the pro and cons of the internet era? Are you comfortable with social media?
I think the internet has had positive effects in terms of the immediacy and ease of discovering bands and listening to their stuff. But this has also done a lot of damage to the culture and the music subculture has been greatly affected. It is no longer necessary to buy music to listen to it. And it is important to emphasize this because a scene is not maintained only with likes on Instagram, you have to buy records, merch, go to concerts… That’s the only way to support the bands and labels you like.
Many thanks for being your welcome guest, what should we expect next from Spammerheds?
We will keep working hard to make good songs, good albums and good live shows. And never stop learning and wanting to learn, because that’s the most fun. Thank you very much for the interview. We are fans and readers of ‘White Light / White Heat”, which we consider a necessary magazine with excellent content.
Spammerheads‘ 5-track EP “Tar Blood Cement Skin” is out now, on Pink Vinyl 12 & Digital formats, via Spanish independent label SOIL.
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