What ́s the name of your band? Of Spire & Throne
How was the band formed? We formed around 2008 when Graham joined on drums. Before that we’d had a lot of members come and go and had spent a good few years working out what sort of music we wanted to make. Once Graham was in the band we were soon ready to play our first gig and everything went from there.
Can you tell about your band? We’re a three-piece based in Edinburgh, Scotland and we play extreme doom/sludge.
Where are all band members from?/Who does what in the band? Matt is from Wales and plays bass, Ali is from Edinburgh and does vocals and guitar, and Graham is from Jersey and plays drums.
What was the ambitions of the band when you started? When we started my immediate ambitions didn’t go beyond playing a local gig and recording something.
Could you explain your music to someone that haven't heard you? We play mostly slow, long, down-tuned songs with me shouting and screaming over the top. We’re the soundtrack to being miserable, pissed off and feeling like you can’t take it anymore.
Where was your first gig? Our first gig was in Henry’s Cellar Bar in Edinburgh in April 2009.
Where was the latest gig? Perth in Scotland at the Green Room.
Who writes your songs?/Who writes the music who writes lyrics? I (Ali) write most of the music and all of the lyrics.
Who has the best since of humor in the band? I think we’ve all got a pretty good sense of humour. I'd say that's kind of essential.
What's good/bad with the band?/What genre do you feel you are?
Good: we’re about to receive the vinyl for our latest EP, ‘Toll of the Wound’ and we’re putting a short tour of England and Wales together.
Bad: the vinyl was delayed for weeks!
I think we can be put under doom or sludge, but we like to experiment with different sounds and atmospheres too.
Why did you pick that particular style?/What are your songs about? I love slow, heavy riffs and the feeling and atmosphere the music creates. I write about personal things that weigh on my mind: death, illness, regret, weakness, loss, failure, obsession, etc.
Do you write your own material or mainly covers? All our own material so far.
Have you made any albums?/If yes what are they? We’ve only released a demo and three EPs so far (The Trial of Failure, Vagary and Toll of the Wound), but we’ll be recording our first album in November.
Do you have any clips on YouTube?
Here’s our latest EP in full:
Our EP before that:
And us playing a new song live:
How old are you?/What got you started in music? I’m 28. I remember being drawn to music I heard when I was a kid, a lot of classical stuff and heavy guitar riffs. I didn’t get into it in a big way until I was 12 or 13 and I started listening to rock and metal full time.
At what age did you start playing? I got my first guitar when I was 13 or 14 but I wasn’t good at it right away so I quit. Over the years I started to pick it up from time to time and work out more and more bits and pieces. I learnt a few things from the internet and eventually started writing songs. Before Of Spire & Throne existed I saw myself as a vocalist only and I didn’t really do a lot of playing, but that changed when I decided to play guitar and do vocals when I was maybe 21 or 22.
How old were you guys when you first stood on stage? At our first gig I was 23 and Graham would have been about 26. Matt joined us a couple of years later and played his first gig when he was maybe 32 or 33.
What year was the band started? I would say we started ‘officially’ in 2009 when we played our first gig, but we’d been practicing for a couple of years before that.
Best/worst gig you've played?
For me, the best gig we ever played was the first time we ever played Newcastle in 2012. It was our first gig outside of Scotland and the crowd and atmosphere were great. The reaction we got was totally unexpected and amazing, and the folk we met were really friendly too.
The worst we’ve ever done was probably the time we played an improvised set of drone/doom based on our demo songs at a Halloween gig. Graham couldn’t make it so it was just guitars, bass and vocals. I was in costume as King Diamond and it was so bad the promoter couldn’t look us in the eye afterwards, haha! Sorry to everyone who was there!
What places will you be playing in in the imidate future? Newcastle, London, Wales, Manchester, Leeds, Glasgow, Inverness and hopefully some more!
Witch band is the best you ́ve seen? That’s a hard one to answer. I’ve been really lucky and seen a lot of great bands. Some of the best have been Judas Priest, Neurosis, High on Fire and an unbelievable death/grind band called Executive Distraction Tasks. They played an extremely tight ten-minute set of some of the most intense and technical stuff I’ve ever seen.
Is it always the same songs live? No, we tend to play our newest songs in live sets and phase out older ones as we introduce new ones.
Have you had any bigger tours from start to now? We’ve only done a couple of small tours around England so far, with another coming up in September.
How big crowds do you usually play for? Maybe around 30 or 40 people on average. It depends where we’re playing and who we’re playing with.
What are the plans for the rest of the year? Release our first vinyl, tour and record our album.
Where do you usually play? In one of 3 local venues in Edinburgh mostly.
How do you get psyched up for a gig? If I need a boost beforehand I’ll watch the motorbike scene in First Blood, the training montage in Rocky IV, or any scene in Predator, Conan the Barbarian or Commando. Works like a charm.
What are your goals with your music? To be satisfied with what we write, to record it well, to release it with great art, and to play it live to people wherever and whenever we can.
When did you decide to go all in for the music?¨When I was 15 or 16 I knew this what I wanted to do. Everything else has been secondary ever since.
Is it easier to get your inspiration from older bands or from bands more modern? For me, older bands for sure. I think that’s because I can usually listen to older bands without an outside buzz and I find it easier to take it for what it is.
What are your sources of inspiration? It sounds kind of obvious, but I’m inspired by the things I experience and how I react to them, but it can take a while for me to process things. I usually find myself writing based on a particular feeling I can’t figure out and then match that to the music.
What's the first step when making a new song? Getting that first idea, be it a riff, a concept or a vocal line and then recording or writing it down as soon as possible.
How do you feel about the downloading of music instead of buying albums? I don’t see anything wrong with it as long as people support bands they like, but it’s not for me. I like CDs and vinyl and I like to collect them. It’s a lot more engaging in my opinion.
What would be your dreams for the band? To look back at a big and varied catalogue of releases I’m satisfied with after many years. I’d also love to play all over the world.
Besides your own music, what genres and bands do you listen to? Besides death, doom, sludge and grind I love great 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s rock and many of the subgenres that covers (rockabilly, psychedelic, hard rock, prog rock, krautrock, post-punk, grunge, the list goes on and on…), blues, classical, synth music, soundtrack, ambient and a little bit of country and jazz. I love music and am always open to checking out new sounds.
What do you hold most dear? Aside from the people who are most important to me, music without a doubt.
What would be your greatest fears for the future? To not achieve what I need to.
When you are on stage, what do you fear most then? Messing up the songs, getting electrocuted or dropping my pick.
Have you been part of any other projects? I did an improvised ambient/soundtrack project before Of Spire & Throne called God IS.
Have you been in any other bands? I’m in a death metal band called Acatalepsy.
What do you work with outside of the band and the music? I work for the University of Edinburgh holed up in an office all day.
What would you do if there was no music? Aside from go totally insane, I’d probably write super bleak stories and abstract poetry.
How important are your fans? Extremely important. I’m a fan of many bands and I know how important their music is to me so I’m very grateful and appreciative if someone is a fan of Of Spire & Throne.
What's the funniest/most memorable thing a fan has done for you? An American guy emailed me out of the blue one day to say he’d been on holiday in Sri Lanka and he’d been at a Hindu festival. He saw this Sri Lankan guy who was wearing a pink polo shirt with some weird logo on the back. He took a photo and looked it up when he got home. Turned out it was our logo and this guy had made his own bootleg shirt all the way over in Sri Lanka! I still can’t believe it. Check out the photo here: https://fbcdn-sphotos-c-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-xaf1/t1.0-9/253785_10151302841470957_370476310_n.jpg
How often do you rehearse? Once a week. I’d like to rehearse more often but we all have busy lives outside of the band.
Where do you rehearse? We rehearse in a practice and recording studio called Arcadia Audio in Edinburgh.
Name 2 of your own songs you like at the moment? One song in particular doesn’t have a title yet but it’s for our album and I think it’ll end up being pretty cool. I wrote it in an afternoon and it come together really well. Another would be Cascading Shard from our latest EP. It’s the first song we’ve written to feature parts written by all three band members and I think it’s got lots of great riffs.
What drives a band that isn't all that famous and renowned to try to make a living on their music and to keep playing? What drives me is passion, obsession and the vision I’ve had since I decided that I wanted to make music. I want to capture and express something and I want to connect to people. I want to create something in the same way that the bands and artists who are important to me have done. It’s also a lot of fun hanging out with my friends, playing music and meeting people from all over the world. We don’t make a living doing this and we never will, but that’s absolutely fine. We don’t do it to make money.
Do you have any webpages?
We have a website (which is currently in need of updating)
and a Facebook page
and we’re on Bandcamp
Any pearls of wisdom for all other bands out there? When you’re on the road in the tour van, make sure you have a big empty bottle on hand in case you get caught short. I’ve been there and it’s not good.
Describe your show, visually and musically A massive, suffocating wall of bludgeoning sound created by three sweaty men.
How do you view the musicindurty of today? I don’t really know. It’s not really something I think about or know much about as a whole. There’s a lot of great music out there and lots of gigs to go to. That's good enough for me.
What advice would you like to give other bands? The sort of bands which need advice wouldn’t take it from me.
What are the biggest obstacles for a band? Your only obstacle is yourself. If it’s not happening the way you want it to, it’s your fault. I still have to re-learn that lesson from time to time.
What is best/worst with playing the clubs? Playing clubs is mostly great. The best thing is small crowds and a good time. The worst is unreliable venues double-booking gigs or not opening on time, but that’s all part of the fun!
Tell us about upcomming gigs and why we should be at them? We’ve got some gigs coming up in Scotland, England and Wales and if you like slow, heavy, extreme sounds you might just enjoy it, but no pressure!
How would you describe your sound in one sentence I think I nailed it in the answer to that earlier question: A massive, suffocating wall of bludgeoning sound.
What is your favorite crappy instrument? My first guitar which I still have. It’s a ¾ size Squier Strat that I bought second-hand from a guy in high school. I was over the moon and ready to rock the day I got it, but when I took it home I tripped up on a football outside my house and smashed it on the ground. What a shitty day that was.
What was one of the most quarrelsome times for you in the band? So far, we’ve never quarrelled. We’ve disagreed and argued our cases when writing songs but we’ve never had a bust-up or anything. We're a team, y'know?
Whats your Pre-show ritual? Drink at least 3 litres of water and eat a clementine about 30 minutes before. I might do some shouting to get loosened up too.
Do you have anything to add? Many thanks for the interview Robex, very cool to have someone getting in touch from Sweden - tack så mycket!