written for Probemusic,
does not necessarily mean new. Unsigned does not necessarily mean
worthless. Unsigned, crucially, does not necessarily mean unsignable.
Newcastle-based Spraydog have been pissing their brand of coruscating
distort-pop against the musical lampost since 1996, mostly for Ferric
Mordant, the label set up by their guitarist Phil Tyler. They are
unsigned and very happy about it. Phil: "What does signed mean?
We've released loads of records and never signed a thing. No-one's
ever asked us to sign anything and I'd happily carry on as we are."
not? "It's about control isn't it? We don't sell thousands of records,
but we control what we do. Which side do you go on, integrity or
sales? Most of the stories you hear about people who get signed
are bad - I hardly ever hear someone say they got signed and it
was great. It's always grief and then they leave the label and split."
think of the money. "That's another reason not to get signed. If
I did get to that situation, I wouldn't want an advance. I know
that's why people want to get signed, get a million pounds or something.
But the record company aren't giving it you, you have to pay it
back.. Once you know about these pitfalls you wonder why anyone
ever gets signed."
are about to release their third album, Mint Hand, and seventh single,
Girls Know Girls, on London-based indie label Stupid Cat. Pretty
much all their previous records have been compared to Sonic Youth
and Dinosaur Jr and nothing is going to change this time around.
It's their understated perfection, their layers of distortion and
their all-but obscured underlying pop nous. It sounds like the songs
just slide effortlessly off the guitars. "We work really hard at
the band, but we just don't work hard running around trying to get
signed. It's like: what do you want to achieve?"
what do they want to achieve? "I really want to make records that
I like and play gigs that aren't empty. We've done two Peel sessions
and three albums and there's a lot of bands, really good bands,
who never get to do that. On one level, we've achieved things. But
getting heard... I think a lot of people would like us if they heard
us, but the distribution and means of hearing it is tied up with
a few people with different aims other than music."
what would Phil say to other bands? What inspired him? "The Slampt
label. I think having the Slampt guide to putting out a record was
pretty useful. And DIY. Do it yourself and help other bands to do
Hand is out in January. www.spraydog.co.uk