Keith Elcombe speaks to Simon from Spares, after their appearance at Whitby IX this year (2003).

1. Congratulations on the release of ‘Download’! Are you glad it’s finally out?
Yes I am glad that the album has finally been released. Its taken over two and a half years and basically the album has been recorded twice, during this time. Having started the album with just the vocalist Alison, Spares have ended up as a band and not a solo project anymore. There has been loads of problems during this process but to keep it short having recorded the album with Neil Ash (ex Stun vocalist) at the 11th hour I decided that the sound was not going in a direction that I wanted , no disrespect to Neil but the album was shelved and we ended up going into a studio to record the tracks again.

2. Playing at Whitby this year, what was it like, and how well were you received by the other bands?
We really enjoyed the gig and the atmosphere. For myself and Kyle it was the first time we had played live for five years and for Alison even longer. Knowbody knew the tracks except maybe the old Stun numbers, so we were generally pleased with the reaction we received. As for the other bands, we met Synthetic and they were really nice people, no bad vibes. It was great to be back at Gothsville.

3. I have to ask this, but what was the thinking behind putting the four bonus tracks on the album, given the way they stand apart (in my mind anyway) from the other tracks? Was this a ‘content vs. value’ issue?
I wanted to give people value for money but I also thought it may be interesting for people to hear some of the tracks originally recorded. It also shows some diversity within the Spares set up and hopefully broadens the appeal of the group. But yes they also do stand apart from the other tracks, different studio, producer etc.

4. In our interview with you last February, you were hoping to get some ‘heavy video rotation’ on German MTV for a promo off of the then forthcoming ‘Download’ – did this come about as you planned?
Unfortunetly not as yet, but we are still hopeful for sometime in the future. On a positive note we have been asked to submit some tracks for use on an Extreme sports channel which will play some of the bands music.

5. What has governed/influenced the sound style on ‘Download’?
I suppose the usual, the kinds of music I have been listerning to, places visited and the people I have met over the last few years. All of this has helped shape the albums sound.

6. Given this album, what now for Spares? Where are you heading musically?
I know that the next album will be darker in sound, I think we are comming from a Garbage meets Placebo kind of direction but with a bit of Stun thrown in for good measures. I also hope the next album will be better produced and that the tracks will have a wider scope and feel to them. Maybe this was the alternative rock based guitar album I needed to make but that does not mean the same for the next one.

7. Have you lost the Children On Stun attachment yet, or is it still in the process of going? (How far have you been recognised as an artist in your own right without the COS influences?)
I dont think that I will ever lose the COS attachment. For one im very proud of what was acheived, the gigs being played and the cds released over 7 years, they were good times. As far as being recognised as an artist in my own right i feel that I am. I was the songwritter in the Stun and im still the main songwritter in Spares. My guitar sound has helped create the musical background of both. I think creativly the Stun pretty much run its course, but with Spares and its current line up I feel the best is yet to come.

8. Last year you said you wanted to release an album that would blow the Goth scene away – does this statement still stand, and if so, how far are you into achieving this goal?
My statement was a bit bold to say the least, so no this release hasnt blown away the scene. What it has done is hopefully given us a rung on the ladder which over time we will climb. As a band we still have to mature but i still dont think its impossible to release an album to crital acclaim within the scene and I still feel I have it in me as a musican.

9. Do you feel that such a thing is possible with today’s fickle UK Goth scene?
I do yes. as an artist you are driven to write that ultimate track the kind of songs like Temple of love, Adrenaline,Shes in Parties,Tower of Strengh, etc which will be remembered. I think in the Stun we came close with a couple of tracks, but with Spares im still trying, who knows what the next album will bring.

10. Speaking personally, the standard of Goth releases has fallen of late, with only very few albums being worth their salt in terms of presentation and content – do you feel that we are seeing a steady erosion of the Goth music scene?
Well I hope not as its the only scene I have been into since I was 16 and now im 33, so I would feel pretty sad. I can see where you are comming from but for years the same question has been asked and still the scene keeps going. The Mission and the Sisters still play to large crowds and The Mission still sell plenty of cds abroad. Other acts such as Manuscript have been going for nearly 10 years along with Incubus Succubus who have a loyal following.
Over the last few years I see that the scene has also gone quite electronic, it mutates and another scene pops up. It did feel strange at Whitby this year when most of the people there on friday night were basically dancing to old school rave music from the early 1990s, 10 years ago that would probably not have happened. But interesting to view all the same.

11. So what are your tour plans for the rest of the year?
Well we hope to play in London with Manuscript, we also hope to play in Sheffield sometime and to play in Sweden in the Autumn with a band called Kindred Spirits. We are also hoping to play an in store gig at our local virgin megastore soon, which if happens im sure will be a good laugh.

12. How much does touring take out of you, if anything? (Some bands find it very draining)
Well in the days of the Stun( I sound like an old git), we toured non stop for 7 years and yes it was hard work but still a pleasure to do. You dont see bands doing it the hard way much anymore there are a few exceptions of course but the old school way did help get you a following and to sell cds. Tours were difficult to arrange, but always worth the effort once you were on the road. I think we were lucky really, we started at a time when the scene was flourishing and there were alot of good bands around to play with. We met some great people and it was always worth it. Touring Europe was a stuggle in a transit van, but great a experiance. The only thing was the come down after the tour theres only so much speed and dope you can do before your body starts to feel like shit. The pleasure of then signing on was always a reality check.

13. Has your attitude of the Alternative scene changed any over the last year, and if so, how?
No not really, its been nice to see that there is a thriving scene on line,good magazines comming out and a few gigs to go to.

14. How could the scene be improved, if at all, in your mind?
For some of the metal shit to go away along with the pop punk bands who link themselves to the Goth scene. And an inetrest from the main music scene signing British bands not just American. That would be a start.

15. And finally, you’re trapped on a desert island – what three things do you take with you and why?
Cd player a Mission cd and fags. Why because I need them in my life. Also my soon to be wife because of obvious reasons really.