I had a chat with Ed Grabianowski (singer, lyricist, drums, guitar) and a small appearance from Richard Root (guitar, bass, producer) of rock band Spacelord about their new single 'Midnight Shadow' and their upcoming third album.
Hey, thank you for doing this. How are you today?
E: I feel extremely normal today, which I do not recommend. I hope my day gets weirder as it goes.
First question I have is what was the inspiration behind the band name?
E: I really wish there was a cool story behind this, I should make one up. But we'd gone through a million names and either found that other bands had taken them, or we didn't all like them. And at some point someone just blurted out "Spacelord" and everyone was like, "Yeah, that's fine, I like that." And of course there's a band called The Spacelords, and the Monster Magnet song which is more famous than we'll ever be, so it probably wasn't the best choice. But it does look cool on a t-shirt.
What would you say are your main influences for the sound of Spacelord?
E: When I was growing up, I was discovering the hard rock of the 70s, and at the same time experiencing the incredible stuff happening in the 90s. So a lot of Zeppelin, Soundgarden, Free, Sabbath, I'm a huge Pearl Jam fan, Alice In Chains. I think the things you fall in love with between the ages of about 12 and 18, whether its music or movies or books, become a foundation for you, you never lose that love. At the same time, I'm open to new things and feel like I can learn from and be influenced by anything good or interesting or exciting, I'd hate to feel like my tastes have ossified at any point. I love sad pop songs. I've been really into Dua Lipa lately, and Pearl Charles.
How has it been recording music during the pandemic?
E: There was a learning curve for me, because Rich had engineered and produced everything we'd done before, and suddenly I had to learn to lay down vocal tracks in a bedroom here. I gradually built up what I could do with layering vocals, adding effects and things like that. So in a way it gave me an opportunity to learn something new, and that was pretty cool. But it definitely threw a wrench into our plans and delayed things a lot.
The artwork/imagery for Spacelord is really cool, what is the inspiration behind having it themed this way?
E: Early on we realised there was no sense in trying to manufacture our image, the band had to be us, authentically represent who we are and what we like. And I'm a nerd who loves sci-fi and horror. Plus we'd picked the name of the band, so it just naturally went in that direction. When I comissioned the Spacelord logo, the giant robot, from artist Andy Bellanger, my art direction was basically to create something like one of Jack Kirby's cosmic comic book space gods, the celestials. I do think the art has helped us find our audience.
You haven't put out music since 2018, would you say your musical style has changed any since then?
E: In a way, absolutely, because this album actually started out as an acoustic EP that was just going to be a quick pandemic project. It then morphed over time into a full album, which is not acoustic but still has those acoustic elements on a few songs. But it's still the same two songwriters. Of course our interests and influences have changed over time, so I hope there's some evolution of our sound. Not any kind of decision to "go in a new direction", but I do think we've given ourselves the freedom to explore different spaces and ideas. But we're still Spacelord.
I see that you have a Hendrix classic as a B-side for the 'Midnight Shadow' single, what was it like tackling an epic song like this? And how did you decide to do it?
E: I'm going to let Rich tackle this one, because he selected the Hendrix cover - such a wonderful song, and I love Jimi. I don't know if I would have the cojones to cover one of his songs, as a guitarist. R: I've been a Hendrix fan for as long as I can remember. His music has been a part of the soundtrack of my life. Hendrix's presence was almost alien, really, the kind of unspeakable insight into life that he struggles to express through music seems beyond the average person's vision. This is not to say Hendrix alone possessed the understanding to the contrary I'm certain he was convinced we all could share in his vision if we could only see and understand it. Anyway, Spanish Castle Magic was Jimi's ode to his formative years, commemorating that time by sharing the impressions it left on the mature Jimi. It's the sonic equivalent to post impressionism art.
How would you describe your new single 'Midnight Shadow'?
E: Well, just come on in and stomp your feet and clap your hands and sing along with me about the apocalypse and dark desires. It's Hell's Hootenanny.
Outside of music do you have any hobbies that you enjoy?
E: Reading, writing, painting miniatures, playing games, and quiet deviancy. I like to collect old comic books, too.
What is your favourite tv show or movie at the moment if you have any?
E: I've been watching a Spanish horror series on HBO called 30 coins, but my head has been in books lately. I'm reading Iain M. Banks' culture novels one by one, as fast as I can get my hands on them.
Back to music do you have a favourite song to play live?
E: "Warlike" is always good because it gets a big crowd reaction, and there's a moment in the middle that always feels huge and triumphant. I personally love singing "Cruiserweight", it's just a fun song to sing.
I always like to finish with a few this or that questions:
Classic or new?
E: New, but with classic vibes.
Horror movie or comedy?
E: Horror, all day and all night, Halloween all year round.
Play a live show yourself or see your favourite band play live?
E: Playing shows is honestly not my favourite part of being in a band, so definitely seeing my favourite band.
Interview by Kayleigh McKenzie
Listen to 'Midnight Shadow/Spanish Castle Magic' HERE
Find Spacelord online
Read my review of 'Midnight Shadow' below