Space logo
New album Attack of the Mutant 50ft Kebab available now!

Reviews Spiders - February 1997 - Varsity Review

Stuart Berman

Space are from Liverpool, there's four of them and their songs refuse to leave your noggin. So you think you have a good idea of what they sound like? Think again, trainspotter.

Had they been around thirty years ago, Tommy, Franny, Jamie and Andy would have been sportin' cheap tuxedos and singing bad torch songs in a Holiday Inn lounge rather than showing off their Beatle boots on Carnaby Street. But now, armed with electric guitars, hip-hop beats and synths galore, Space are out to destroy retro-gazing Britpop from within, disguising themselves as mop-topped Oasis dopplegangers but bringing you a message far more subversive than, "You gotta roll with it."

There's not much intergalactic about Space's debut Spiders, but the band does sound like they come from another planet. How else would you explain the bizarre faux-Spanish accents ("Mr. Psycho"), the Sinatra-like crooning ("The Female Of The Species"), techno rave-fests ("Growler"), lyrics inspired by Natural Born Killers ("Me And You Vs. The World") and Charles Manson fantasies ("Charlie M."), all set to booming beats that would make even classic rock-loving bikers shake their rump-ahs. And wouldn't you know it, the sly buggers in Space won't even fess up to their plan to make Britpop a thing of the past (or is that being redundant?).

"No, we're not trying to push anything," says a seemingly humble Tommy, singer/bassist/lyricist for the band, "We just do our own thing. We just happen to be a square peg in a round hole-the only reason [people think] we're different is that we sound different than bands that look like us. No band that looks like [us] in Britain plays our type of music. We just use our imagination. We're not trying to conquer the world or say we're the best group in the world."

"It just turned out that way," deadpans keyboard wiz/techno specialist Franny in his classic Lennonesque, Liverpool accent. Comparing Space to a certain British band led by two Beatle-lovin' brothers, Franny says, "We're not going to come out here and go, 'We're from England, we're better than you, we want to prove this, and show you what everything's about.' I mean, we've never even done that in Britain, so we're not going to start doing that here."

But oddly enough, despite their uniquely modest demeanour and anti-retro mission statement, Space actually hold the Gallagher brothers in high regard.

"Just before Oasis," explains Tommy, "every kid, all they were interested in, all they were buying was computer games. Music just died in Britain, there was nothing coming out of it. And all of a sudden Oasis comes, and I don't know why - I don't particularly like the music that much - but they sparked something in every kid across Britain and people started buying records again. So they come along, and all of a sudden it gives a chance to bands like us to actually have people go out and buy your records and be interested in music again. I can't even believe the thought that. people from different countries can like your music and all that."

Okay, so Space aren't involved in some conspiracy to destroy Oasis; their humility is 100 per cent genuine. In fact, for a bloke who spent his formative years in the U.K. dance underground, Franny doesn't even have a problem with geezers like David Bowie and U2 pilfering rave culture for electronic sounds on their latest releases.

"Bowie's just ripped me off anyway," he jokes. "He's used a lot of my samples and loops on his new song, so I've got to have words with Bowie's management."

"People are scared of technology," observes Franny more seriously, "and I don't know why. It's like, there's a machine, get out there and use that machine! I mean, you go listen to some techno music or some ambient music or whatever, it's got feeling. People say, 'Oh, these computers and this stuff can't have no feelings,' but I think it has. You've got just got to listen to it, like Bowie, and as you say U2, and there's a lot of feelings going on in that stuff. There's a lot of electronics and a lot of machinery, so use it. It's there to be abused."

If Space's electronic sample-heavy grooves don't grab your attention, then surely the blood-stained lyrics will. But the inherent perversity of Tommy's musical stories is not predetermined for effect; the singer is just naturally nutters, having spent too much of his childhood in front of the telly watching violent American films. But instead of just relying on the sadistic imagery, Space go for the full subversive effect by placing those images within the context of upbeat, chipper melodies. According to Tommy, 'tis one of life's sweetest pleasures to see Space fans (whose ages, says Franny, range from toddlers to 87-year-old grandmothers) happily bop along whilst singing lines like "Kill me, kill me/Oh won't you kill me."

"Yeah, if the music sounded like some of the lyrics, I'd probably kill me-self," he explains. "I like seeing your average grandmother or mum on the street singing along to 'Mister Psycho' but not realizing she's singing a song about a psychopath."

Nonetheless, one should not confuse Space's preoccupation with gratuitous violence for testosterone-induced braggadocio.

"It's not done in a macho way," says Tommy. "We're not trying to be macho, saying that we're tough. We're not like that. I grew up on films, watching films, so that's all that's in me mind. All I'm doing is telling little stories."

"Some of it's like cartoon humour," adds Franny, "where you get hit by that big mallet but still get up and walk away."

However, the story behind the title track to Spiders (hidden at the end of the CD) was inspired not by film-though Tommy has seen Arachnophobia-but by cold hard fact.

"That song is about me girlfriend," explains Tommy. "Basically, I know that she's terrified of spiders but if anyone, like say you come up and tried to hit me, she'd kill ya. She's not frightened of anything in the world except spiders."

That's Tommy for ya, expressing his romantic side by playing on his girlfriend's worst fear. But as much he feels for her and arachnophobes everywhere, Tommy just couldn't resist the temptation to adorn the CD and cover art of Spiders with lots of big, furry tarantulas.

"Some people can't even put the CD on the [player]," says Tommy with more than a hint of satisfaction, "They have to get their friends to put on the CD for them. The reason we put it on the LP cover is simply just to test our fans, because we know there's loads of people who are terrified by spiders, and if they really love us that much, they'll still go out and buy it."

Original Article available here
Source: Varsity Review