Posted On 18 Dec 2017
On October 6th Spirit Award released their debut full length, “Neverending.” This collection houses momentum and starkness. The Seattle three-piece pushes and pulls the ten songs with staggered bright darkness and a massive sound. Sprawling, stereo guitars puncture out from a driving bass/drum foundation.
While Spirit Award is aptly capable of generating catchy psych moments, there seems to be no calculable formula to their writing style. Vocal sections dipped in effects shape them more like an instrument, putting the bass in the role of lead guitar. Moments of “Neverending” point to influences of early New Order and Can, baiting you with a hook then leaving you droning to a krautrock beat.
Spirit Award credit the death of a family member, anxiety, a robbery, and the ending of a relationship for the record’s pensive, yet hopeful look into the future. Through all this the band continued working on the record over the course of two years, which is why it garnered the name, “Neverending.”
Neverending was recorded with Jack Endino (Nirvana), and Eric Corson (Perfume Genius, Ceremony), Connor Birch and GG Reynolds (Sleater-Kinney).
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Learn more about Spirit Award in the following All Access interview:
Where does this interview find you today? Is there music playing in the background? What is it? What is one song that you are all loving right now? What is a song that you disagree about loving right now?
You’ve found us en route to Olympia, WA for a day radio taping and a show this evening. Since Chris is currently driving he’s playing one his favorite records, the album Head on a Door by The Cure. A song we’ve been digging lately (though we have for years) is “I Found the F” by Broadcast. We’ve even been talking about covering it sometime. Although we’re fortunate to mostly agree on our collective music selection, we discovered yesterday that Daniel does not share the same love for “Incinerate” by Sonic Youth as Chris and I (Terence).
How did Spirit Award first come to be? Can you recall the moment when you all thought you could be in a band together? Was it hard to come up with a name that you could all agree on? How did you come up with your band name?
Our band actually started as Daniel’s attempt at starting a solo project. He had recently left his band Pomegranates and moved from Ohio to Seattle, where we all live, and was trying to start something new. Daniel and Chris met when they were both working at a bar here in Seattle. Chris had recently come back from studying music production at Berklee and was looking for people to record so they linked up to track Daniel’s stuff. Pretty quickly Dan asked Chris to play bass. I (Terence) Hadn’t met Daniel but I’ve known Chris since high school and he suggested I play drums. Long story short it didn’t take long before it was obvious we were getting along super well and we ditched the original tracks and starting writing collectively as a 3-piece. Band names suck. Thinking of band names sucks. After weeks of saying every dumb idea that came to mind we settled on Spirit Award. I (Terence) had broke a kick drum head at practice one day, cutting us short. Dan said, “Hey you get the spirit award” and were like f*** it done deal.
How do you think this band has been influenced by the Pacific Northwest? How did that particular music scene affect you all?
Although it’s hard to specify exactly how, but living in the PNW had definitely been a massive influence. Chris and I (Terence) were born and raised here and were essentially raised on the innate effects of living in such a specifically beautiful natural environment. The fact that it’s paired with a majority of time under the cover of rain and dark I feel is what helps bring out the hints of darkness. Also in the winter no one goes out so we all just stay in and write music. It was also cool to learn that the bubble we felt we were in was actually a national thing and Daniel was experiencing the same awesome PNW music as we were from labels like Sub Pop and Barsuk.
How does 2017 compare to last year? What all are you most excited about for 2018?
Politics and elections aside I think we can say 2017 has stacked up as an amazingly better year than last for us. We were finally seeing a light at the of the tunnel as far as wrapping up this record and we started getting some much needed help with some management . As far as 2018 we’re just excited to finally start touring a lot and working on a new record. We have a west coast tour coming up in January and some more exciting spring things happening.
What was it like releasing your debut album, “Neverending” last month? Did anything surprise you about the overall process? Were there any unexpected challenges?
Releasing Neverending was insane relief. There was nothing surprising about the process until we looked back at it from the end of two years of working on it. Just realizing how many different places and people were involved along the way. There were all sorts of different flavors of challenges throughout. They all compounded into a record making process that felt, well, neverending.
Can you talk about where the inspiration for the songs found on “Neverending” came from exactly? I understand that it was a long process in that it took two years to make. What was that like for you all?
The songs on this record were written over such a long course of time with so many things in our lives changing. Lyrically Daniel did a lot of stream of consciousness stuff at practices, channeling some heavy stuff he was going through. As much as we hate being overly political, it’s safe to say that the darkness we felt after our current president’s election helped push us across the finish line. The two year process was a bit frustrating because well before we were done were so sick of hearing these songs and just wanted it to be over, but didn’t want to sacrifice quality. It was overall a very positive experience for us a band. Learned a lot about things not to do next time around.
Could you pick out one or two songs on this album and discuss how they came to be? How did they go from being ideas in your heads to full-fledged songs on the collection? In general, how do you all approach the songwriting process?
We collectively were all super happy with the track “Fields” and the process of how it ended up in its final state. Like most of our stuff it started as a jam in our space. Most of our songs are written collaboratively, as was the case for this one. Feeling restless Dan grabbed the bass and Chris jumped onto the Juno (synth). Chris is a killer key player and cooked up most of the big key parts that day. It wasn’t till we went to track the song with our friend Connor Birch (of the Denver band Flaural) in Denver that it was fully fleshed out. We wrote some extra synth and guitar parts on the spot and even had a friend who was in the room jump on the Juno to a duet part with Chris. It was just really fun the way it came together so easily and organically in the end.
This was the last song we wrote for ‘Neverending’. Most of the songs for the record we had parts to and were mostly organized. Yesterday was put together super last minute. Daniel has this old Wurlitzer Omni 6000 organ/synth in his house. He wrote the song on it, Chris came over and wrote a bass part, and we just started tracking it. Chris borrowed a Neve Sidecar to run mic’s through that we set up in a big room in our rehearsal space. They basically gave me some direction but told me (Terence) to do whatever felt natural. Daniel had to leave during recording so he didn’t hear the full song until later that week,. When he heard it he said he remembered laying on the floor in his house with headphones and feeling like we got exactly what we wanted, a big drum sound with some nice warm tones.
Who are some of your favorite artists right now? Who would you love to work with in the future? What would be a dream collaboration for Spirit Award?
Some of our favorite new bands these days would have to be Protomartyr, Throw Down Bones, Flaural, and Charms. Our dream collaboration might involve working with Brian Wilson and Charles Manson around the time they were working together (the pre murder era), produced by Kanye West.
We are living in a crazy and at times rough world right now so I am curious how you think being in this band gives you the most joy in life today? Do you think that new music being created today is going to reflect this difficult time?
As far as the joy we get from playing music in the context of what is going on in the world around us, I suppose that it’s a combination of an escape and channel for telling hateful people that there’s no room for em. Our music and our vibe is intentionally not overtly political or topical, but needless to say we have some strong opinions and try to subtilely and tastefully use our very small platform to spread the lovin’ vibes when we can. We always encourage people to keep making art! Keep dreaming! Life is short and uncertain so do what you love.
What do you hope is the message of your music? What do you hope people take away from your music?
We hope that people can find hope and joy and connect through these songs and that we can share in pain and joy together. I think that’s kind of what the human experience is all about.