Oliver & The Spectacles Interview
With Chris Swartwood, Lead Singer
Oliver & The Spectacles bring back a distinctive look and excitement reminiscent of the time when mono was king and the 7 inch 45 ruled the airwaves. They have the lyrics and grooves that make a strong case for the next chapter of the soul-sound revival. The Spectacles bring a live show that never fails to get the crowd up out their seat and puts a groove in their feet. From the first break beat that opens the show, The Spectacles sound grabs the audience by the collar and doesn’t let go until they’re doing “The Spectacle Shake”. They respectfully nod their heads to the time of America’s love affair with the turntable and the artists it delivered. Good music is alive and well in the world…let the music and showmanship of Oliver & The Spectacles help show you where it has been living.
Cory: Are you currently working on new music?
Chris: “We are slowly, things are being written as time is available and as inspiration strikes. We’ve got some stuff, an EP’s worth of tracks that have been recorded and are in various stages of production and mixing. We don’t have any official plans of launching an album or anything, but we will have a seven inch that will be coming out here pretty soon called hit the ground running and another tune take a step.”
Cory: Are you excited about playing the Hootenanny on the 28th?
Chris: “Yeah, absolutely we’ve been looking forward to that. Robert Hamm has been super nice to the band and has gotten us a lot of cool shows, so were excited to see what type of relationship we forge between you guys, Robert Ham and other influential guys here in town.”
Cory: It’s been a little over a year exactly since the Basement Bootleg was released. Do you see a progression within your unique style continuing throughout the new projects?
Chris: “What has been most prevalent with me has been the cohesion of different versions of the band and because of that I don’t get to have a band photo, the line up is different for every show. So I’ve got like five versions of the band and each one has presented its own energy and style. So depending on whatever show you go to really dictates the kind of show your going to get, which used to be very scary to me but now I’ve learned to become excited to play with different sets of guys and girls.”
Cory: Who writes the songs typically?
Chris: “I generally come to the band with song ideas, lyrically and melodically. I generally do vocal demos for each part, just because I’m not a multi instrumentalist. So ill do vocal recordings on how I think the parts should sound. That will then get the juices flowing for everyone else. It is true that depending on who is playing that particular show, the song may change. Because we have so many people coming in or out, we only get about one dress rehearsal before a show, sometimes not even that. Literally when we play a show you are seeing the rawest form of the band, but because the level of musicianship is such great quality you don’t really feel that when you see it.”
Cory: Where do you get your inspiration?
Chris: “We listen to a lot of Stacks recordings, 60’s Stacks which we all have an affection for, and definitely comes through in the sound. But in the contrary to that we love pop, 70s funk, 80’s pop and 90’s R&B, so a lot of that comes into how it sounds. It used to feel like we were a 60’s soul band, but there’s only so many styles of songs that you can right until your completely pigeon holed with the sound. Trying to do that would just put you in the corner. We’ve tried to reach out and take more influence from what we currently listen to rather than what we are expected to listen to and sound like.”
Cory: Are you guys currently looking to do a tour?
Chris: “It really depends on whether there is a need for it. This band formed out of a musicians therapy group in a sense. A Lot of the players are with other groups and those groups are what pay their bills, so there is no money to speak of in this band. It became a way for them to play in a group where they could breath and have fun while playing and not have to worry about anything that’s going on other than enjoying the music. So touring would be possible if there was a need for it. When your talking about six plus players there really needs to be a need for that. You really don’t want it to cost you to leave town. Nashville is such a big town that if we feel that we’ve satisfied the needs of Nashville, we may consider it. Nashville is a hard cookie to crack. It’s a feel good band for feel good people. This needs to be as low stress as possible, but if it gets bigger than that, then so be it, were just trying to have a good time.”
Cory: Do you think Oliver & The Spectacles is taking a step in making Nashville a more diverse town musically?
Chris: “If we were than it would be unintentionally, because I feel like everyone that lives here is aware that there is something more than country music here. The most rewarding thing is playing for people who don’t necessarily know who you are but came to the event for someone else and enjoyed what you did. That is a really fundamental part of local music in Nashville as a whole. You are sharing a musical experience with somebody else and a lot of bands in town we know and play with and were friends with. You’re sharing an audience and your sharing a stage, and that’s what makes Nashville so cool. Everyone is happy for each other’s accomplishments, and its cool to be in the mix, and your not really asking for anything more than that.”