Spector's Fred Macpherson with indie hero of yesteryear, Joe Lean of the Jing Jang Jong
Let's be honest, British indie music probably did die for a bit. Nobody was throwing roses into its grave and crying into their veils as "Can't Stand Me Now" played on the organ, but it was in a vegetative state for a while. Although, while a lot of the world was crowing about that, some of indie's greatest fans have been trying to save the old dear.
Leading the charge are the Dalston Kaiser Chiefs themselves, Spector: a band intent on bringing back glamorous indie rock and roll. So we thought that their headline show at Camden's Electric Ballroom would be a good place to go and check out the resurrection live. Whilst we were there, it seemed like a good idea to ask a carefully selected cross-section of people if indie is dead, ever died, and if so, who should be charged with its murder. Like Cluedo with a vest and braces combo.
The first thing I noticed was that this crowd was young, so young that we spoke to a young man named "Beck." As in, named after Beck, which is a sure-fire way to make anyone feel old. Now some prat in Primrose Hill who once bought a copy of Odelay at Our Price has children old enough to go to gigs. Shudder. Anyway, we asked around, but couldn't find any kids called Pavement or DJ Shadow.
(l-r) Beck, Jacob
Hi guys! Do you think Spector is bringing indie back?
Beck: I think they’re one of the bands that have the potential to. I think it’s good because a lot of music is more electronic nowadays, so it’s nice to hear guitars.
It sure is, son. So, is it important to have traditional instruments? What do you think of Skrillex?
Jacob: It’s important to have instruments because it gives you something to aspire to. You can’t be like Skrillex and have thousand dollar dubstep equipment. You can just have a guitar and be like Spector.
Do you have indie heroes? Could Fred from Spector become one of them? Is he, in fact, a modern day Jarvis Cocker, or just a prat in glasses?
Beck: I think he has the potential to be. He’s pretty cool.
Jacob: He wears suits all the time. I admire that.
Another sign that indie is currently a niche genre, much like metal used to be or like psy-trance always will be, was the abundance of slightly elder folk there. You ever go to a metal club in 2004? They were full of people lying about their age in both directions. We thought we might be able to get more info about the rise and fall—and possibly rise again—of indie music, from somebody who probably saw Shed Seven before they became a lazy journalistic by-word for bands with no cool fans.
Hi, Lorraine. Is Spector bringing back indie music?
Lorraine: I really like Fred because he talks the whole time and he’s entertaining. So they're certainly good.
Do you think indie music ever went away?
No, definitely not. I’ve been watching indie music for years.
What do you think of Skrillex?
Yeah, I love it!
Good for you, fighting the age gap! Does Spector make Blur look like a Dad Rock band?
Then I met a crew who managed to combine both demographics.
(l-r) Alice, Jenny, Emma
Do you know what indie music is?
Alice: Do I know what indie music is?
Emma: Skinny jeans! Everybody knows that.
A lot of people are saying Spector is the first big British guitar band for a while…
Emma: We’ve come to see Spector because they’re going to win the prize for best at being the Vaccines at next year’s NME Awards.
Woah! Trash talk. Do you think indie music died?
Alice: No, I don’t think it died. I think people just didn’t like it. I liked it but my friends didn’t.
What did your friends like?
Do you think Beyonce killed indie music?
Who else is personally responsible?
Alice: Katy Perry.
Jenny: One Direction.
These bro's had some cold truths to put out there for us.
(l-r) Tate, Sam, Ben
If anyone killed indie, who do you think it was?
Tate: Bombay Bicycle Club
Tate: They’re just a bit shit.
Sam: I’ve only just got into indie music, so I don’t know.
You're staring down the barrel for a lifetime's happiness. What do you think of Skrillex?
All: Bullshit. Total bullshit.
It’s not really music, is it? It’s just noise.
OK then, what do you think of Bloc Party?
They’ve got back together, haven’t they? They’re a bit embarrassing. Bands like The Vaccines and Spector are a lot cooler.
And then suddenly, the lights went down and the screams went up a notch. Spector entered the stage caked in blue light, sharp-suited and slick-haired. They looked like a wedding band, played like a stadium band, but at their heart, they were a bloody indie band, that's what.
The indie finger point: Making shy young girls giggle since 1984.
Sure, they were good, they were indie, but the show hadn't answered the central question: IS INDIE BACK BACK BACK?!? So, we decided to eschew the fanbase, and go ask the hard questions to the men themselves.
Chris Burman, Spector
Are you guys bringing indie back?
Indie didn’t go away. People just went on SoundCloud and they got distracted. People should be into all types of music. As soon as we get into any kind of discussion about the death of guitar music you should ask yourself the following question: “What was the last thing you listened to on iTunes?” It was probably The Cars.
Do you think your singer Fred is a modern day Jarvis Cocker?
Well, one of those syllables is correct, but I’m not going to tell you which one.
Gabriel Bruce (tonight's support act, and semi-pro Michael Pitt lookalike)
Do you think you and Spector are bringing back indie music?
I think Spector is doing a damn fine job of bringing back the wonderful thing that is indie music to this country.
Is Fred a modern day Jarvis Cocker?
He’s not quite as intelligent as Jarvis Cocker.
What’s your favourite Wedding Present song?
Who…is… Wedding Present?
You’re failing the indie test!
OK, OK! I’ll talk about indie: when I was 16, I went to see Special fucking Needs at the fucking Railway in Winchester and Zach held me without even knowing it. If there was once an indie scene then I don’t think it was anything to do with The Libertines. It was Larrikin Love, Ludes, Special Needs… Alan McGee had that shit on lockdown. That Special Needs album was great, it’s a shame it never came out! You remember Special Needs?
Fred Macpherson, Spector (in the floral…obvs)
To what extent is Spector bringing back indie music?
Indie as a type of music never went away. Indie as a cultural phenomenon is simply not back. Nor will it return in the same way it returned at the beginning of the noughties, ever. Whether it be Creation Records in the 90's, Rough Trade in the early noughties, or Animal Collective and the Captured Tracks family, indie has never gone away. I’d tell you what I’d love to go away: people going around asking the question “Has indie gone away?”
If that didn’t happen, who would write about you, Fred?
There’s only one conversation I hope for the death of: the conversation about whether guitar music is dead. James Murphy said, in 2002, “I hear that you and your band have sold your guitars and bought turntables / I hear that you and your band have sold your turntables and bought guitars.” Like the Buddhist snake eating its own tail, this is something that will continue ad infinitum.
If you were to level the death of guitar music at anyone, who would it be?
I don’t name names and I don’t blame blames.
Do you think Blur is a Dad Rock band?
I think Blur is a RAD rock band!
So, is indie dead, or was it just sleeping? Well according to these people, it never left us. The death of indie was merely a Twitter hoax orchestrated by Skrillex. Keep on rocking in the twee world, Camden!
Photography: Dan Wilson