Young Melbourne band Spectral Fires have been busy honing, refining and attempting to perfect their style of melodic hardcore for the past five years and have landed themselves some terrific supports and gained new fans and recognition based on their tight band brotherhood and seemingly neverending quest to acknowledge the fact that collectively they can always do better and do whatever it takes to make sure they do. Metal V had a great in-depth chat with guitarist and backing vocalist Harry Pratt about the Spectral Fires musical journey and how they have taken the “whatever it takes!” ethos to create the best and most recognisable musical they can.
Neil – Well Harry I’ve just checked out the new video for your latest single release “Just A Mirage” from the new EP Turn Toward the Sun. And it is pretty good. Do you want to give us an in-depth rundown on its content and meaning?
Harry – We are all incredibly stoked on how “Just A Mirage” came out. Cian (Marangos – Filmed and edited) whose has done all three of our clips now (“Left Behind” & “New Resolve”). He’s an incredibly talented young filmmaker. He’s just able to take a small kernel and be able to run the full length of the field with any ideas we throw at him and is able to execute and come up with a finished product that is way better than anything we could have foreseen. We are so grateful to know him and be able to have him conceptualise visually our music.
N – You mentioned Cian has done Spectral Fires other two videos being “Left Behind” and “New Resolve”, how much of an idea does the band have which contributes to what the tracks are based on and what ends up being portrayed in the finished video?
H – Well with our most recent clip there is a bit of a different story going on visually as to what is going on lyrically. The meaning of the song “Just A Mirage” is based on wanting to go back to a better place and time with an underlying relationship element, whereas the film clip has a zany element to it, which we hope is getting across to our audience. There are the two main characters which is a young guy and an older guy who both happen to be the same person. The younger guy and seeing the older guy as a figment of his imagination which throughout the song takes him a kind of spiritual journey. The message we wanted to capture for our audience is an uplifting one. The main character being a better version of himself at the end of the clip as opposed to what he was at the beginning.
N – So Harry we’ve briefly touched on the Spectral Fires in the now. You’ve been together for five years and picked up some pretty solid support slots. Give us a rundown on the history behind the band for those who are yet to be introduced to you.
H – Spectral Fires have just been plugging away really. We are a close bunch of guys who love making and playing music together. Plus there are two sets of brothers in the band Lachlan and Daniel Cooper (Drums & Bass), myself and Jonah Pratt (Guitars / Vocals) and our vocalist Jack Jeffree who was mine and Lachie’s best mate in high school. So we have just been jamming away and being determined really. Trying to make, find and define our own way. That also includes learning how to book gigs, trying to find bands to play with and to play with us. Sometimes the other bands didn’t really fit our style or sound but we patchworked things and then after a year of being together we’d won some recording time and that’s how we came to record our first EP Wayfarer (2016)
N – I once heard Paul Dempsey from Something For Kate say that both his best friend and his Wife make up two-thirds of his band, so he has to make it work! I guess the same thing could be said for Spectral Fires, who seemingly overall seem to have a lot in common and have been able to form this bond or alliance and comradery that makes your band special in who they are and what they create. Because if things go pear-shaped you don’t want friendships and relationships ruined.
H – Well that’s where we’re lucky I guess in that being so close works to our advantage in that we don’t have to walk on eggshells or think about how we need to conduct ourselves around each other. It’s very much a brotherhood especially considering there are two sets of brothers actually. I mean, you can say or do whatever you want or need to your brother and still always have your relationship intact at the end of it luckily.
N – Did you always Harry want to play Spectral Fires style of melodic hardcore or has the bands sound morphed quite significantly from when you first started to what we hear from you today?
H – Pretty much yeah. We had little bits of the melodic undertones but they are definitely more prevalent now which is what you can hear in our new stuff because I feel as though we are a lot better at writing and executing what we’re writing now. I’ve been getting singing lessons for the last few years which has helped me do vocally now what I was never able to do previously. Jack has also got some vocal coaching for the past few years which has enabled him to hone his talent and performance. Spectral Fires since the beginning always wanted to have a heavy and abrasive sound which is based on our influences such as Defeater, Carpathian and Comeback Kid who are all heavy hardcore bands who all have their own elements of melody and harmony. But ultimately we wanted Spectral Fires to incorporate a melodic heavy rock, hardcore kind of rock-pop element which we have definitely gotten a lot better at honing as our sound for the last couple of years.
N – One of the band’s Spectral Fires has supported recently Harry, and a band I took a while to come around to but now fucking love is Ocean Grove. They are an incredible band that are growing bigger and bigger by the day and have created quite an appeal, audience and market for themselves in the past two years.
H – Well they’re an interesting example actually. They are just the best and nicest bunch of guys that are awe-inspiringly committed 100% to their music and are definitely a source of inspiration for us. And I totally agree with you Neil, I was never really a fan before we got the opportunity to support them. I hadn’t given them much of a chance or a listen or enjoyed Ocean Grove’s style of music. But once I became familiar with the band as people and the style and sound they are trying to create, it eventually clicked with me and I began to appreciate them and their amazing art more after being able to digest it properly and fully. Hearing all the complexities and taking the time to dissect their music if it’s not 100% tuned to your wavelength. And at the end, the positive outcome whether or not it be Ocean Grove or any other band makes your appreciation of that band and their music all the more rewarding and enjoyable.
N – The reason I specifically used Ocean Grove as an example Harry is because of how far quickly their popularity has risen. Being such a young band of five years, what is it that Spectral Fires are doing to try and stand out and remain relevant and fresh in a very flooded and well stocked heavy music market where there are a lot of bands both in front of and behind you wanting to get noticed?
H – Well yes that is a huge issue especially when it means that bands will cease to be and stop doing what they love, which is the biggest and most important part of why people make music. But I guess you have to just look at what you’re doing and keep taking it seriously like Spectral Fires do if they feel as though they have a real chance of having any chance of a sustainable endeavour. In terms of specifics regarding Spectral Fires, we’ve just been relentless in the way we have schemed and promoted ourselves on the channels that are available to us such as social media. Overall though I think that we as a band have just tried to create the best art that we possibly can and putting it to the world for people to see. Plus getting our name and brand in front of the right people in terms of our recordings but also as important, our live shows and performances. The single most important thing I think personally for me is for people to recognise, take notice of and remember your band is from your live show!
Obviously there’s an importance for audiences to hear a band’s recordings and there’s plenty of debate between different sides of the music industry whether its record labels or music producers and band managers and gig promoters who all may or may not agree or disagree on what the most important part to focus on when it comes to a certain band. Is it better to have a million views on a particular music video, or is it more important to have a thousand people at a show? But personally, I think the live aspect of a band is the most important! Doing your best to get yourselves a headline gig and curate your band in such a way as they can get as many people that they can to come and see your live show. Not only to get as many punters to your gig but to also allow it to have some kind of importance and occasion. And that occasion and importance for your band become bigger and stronger when it is shared and experienced by as many people as possible.
I think being able to do that for yourself and your band consistently and then also having the opportunity to do it for other bands which we have been able to do such as we mentioned Ocean Grove and Trophy Eyes which was an incredible experience. Also Being As An Ocean which is a band that we really love and look up to. Overall though it’s having those opportunities and experiences that have allowed Spectral Fires to grow and mature and go back and look at and better our own musical styles and lives.
The ultimate curse of the musician is to question what it is that you’re doing as an artist? For us, as Spectral Fires we just write and create music that we want to listen to. It’s the love of that music that we really back and want people to hear. But it is so hard to tell if anyone else on the planet feels the same way about it that you do. And that’s when you have to realise that whenever a band put anything out that there is a major element to cultivating your “brand”! Some bands are lucky enough to just have “it”. People and their fans are just immediately drawn to them for all manner of reasons where their music and art gives their fans something and it just takes off and has a life an of its own and that is definitely something that we have just cultivated naturally over time and one we will let flourish.
N – Let’s chat now Harry about Spectral Fires new EP titled Turn Toward The Sun which is out now. Starting with how the band attacked things differently between what we heard on Wayfarer (2016) which attracted a fair bit of attention to now.
H – It was very similar back then to what you hear from us now. After we’ve finished writing a song, we record it and listen back to it and then immediately know we can do better. It’s a matter and process of learning from every idea that we have and from every song that we write. Our writing as a band has become more collaborative over the years. Early on song structure was more isolated where I’d write the music and lyrics and then the others would put their flourishes in or my brother would write a song in the same manner which made our early songwriting a one-step process but over the years the songwriting has definitely become more collaborative where we now bounce ideas off of one another.
For Wayfarer we used Jay Maas (Guitars) the mastermind behind the band Defeater to record and produce who is a man we absolutely look up to, idolise and respect and were lucky enough to have him be a part of our first recording. And this time around for Turn Toward The Sun we were lucky enough to have him record and produce us again but having done our first recording he was now more familiar with our style and sound and we were all able to knuckle down and just focus on doing what we do. But most importantly Jay was able to identify and allow us to execute the Spectral Fires sound to be able to take our music to the next level.
N – Well Harry congrats on the release of Spectral Fires new EP Turn Toward The Sun. To finish tell us where we can find the band and listen to the EP?
H – Pretty much everywhere. Digital channels is the primary way we try and got our music out to people whether it be downloads via Artist First you can find the EP at artistfirst.com who are doing our webstore. We’re also on Spotify, Youtube and all the usual streaming outlets. But we are actually super psyched about releasing the EP on 7” vinyl.
N – Oh Mate I am a big collector of vinyl and in my opinion, there is nothing more special or personal than owning the full vinyl package of a band you love! A lot of bands now are releasing these massive pre-order packages that has a tee shirt, a cd and a vinyl copy of their product which is not only beautiful and collectable but also a way to stop people downloading and stealing music from a band but also creates a beautiful product that entices people to want to buy their art and in some ways both contribute to and connect more deeply with a band they love and admire. Kind of like owning a little piece of that band!
H – I totally agree. I think that being a part of the musical sorority, ultimately being in a band that you get to really understand that artists always put their heart and souls into their songs but the collateral the surrounds itself because of those songs manifests itself in tee shirts and vinyl and an overall final product that is so valuable to artists and to own even a small part of that is to own a part of the band in a way. And that, in the end, makes everything that we do worthwhile and appreciated.
Turn Toward The Sun is out now
Spectral Fires are launching their latest EP Friday, Dec. 14th at The Last Chance Rock & Roll Bar in Melbourne. Tix – $10 – $15