Sean Regan from The Spitfires has just hustled through traffic from work to his home in Sydney to chat. The band are about to embark on a brief, but kilometre clocking national tour which sees them promoting their new album Songs From The Debt Generation. From the cover of NME, supporting The Cribs to their revolving door of drummers, Sean gives us the lowdown on the band’s unique circumstances of formation.
The Spitfires have been around since 2009, influenced by all things Britpop and UK punk. It started with the random meeting of two like-minded individuals, guitarist and vocalist Sean, originally from Liverpool, and bass player Paul Bovenkirk from Perth. Sean, in his northwest English accent, explains further. "I got bombed out by my girlfriend, I was feeling a bit down in the dumps, so I went on this porn website called Suicide Girls and Paul had a profile set up there. In the part where it says 'What could you not live without in your life?' he had written 'bass guitar' so I thought, shit, wonder if that guy wants to start a band?" Again, motivation from the ex-girlfriend dumping came in – "Starting a band, I'll show her!"
Sean describes The Spitfires' sound as "Garage thrash with a bit of surf rock thrown in. A couple of guys, just having a bit of a rant at the world, with instruments." Sean seems a likeable kind of guy, not taking himself or the music he makes too seriously. The band is a three-piece, so inevitably the subject of drummers comes up early in reference to their quick overturn, replacing drummers with a greater frequency than Bloc Party.
"Because we are more pretentious than them!" He continues. "I actually went round the university here the other day to try and find a drummer for the tour, as our normal drummer, well, she’s stuck in Perth. It's just become beyond a joke, I dunno what it is, I can move Paul around, but trying to move drummers around, they just get lost, they get jobs, or they just explode, it's the missing link."
Songs From The Debt Generation, the title of which is an obvious reference to the credit crunch and recent recessions, is the first release from the band since the Dead? Good! EP in 2010. That release was followed by a tour of the UK, a highlight of which was appearing on the front cover of the NME, Sean says. “The whole tour experience was a baptism of fire, we made no money but made every gig, despite getting lost constantly, no GPS, no mobiles, and using only maps to drive around.”
The Spitfires also toured Japan over Christmas last year and seemed to enjoy the experience. “They really like their garage rock over there, and we seemed to go down really well, got to play some Christmas street parties for the press which was a highlight.”
The band’s proudest moment so far was a support slot with The Cribs, at which time Sean got to meet one of his heroes Johnny Marr. “I made a complete dick out of myself when I met him. A mate of mine was downstairs and he asked me to get a Smiths LP signed for him, so I walked up to Johnny and said ‘Johnny, would you be able to sign my Smiths record?’ even though he was playing in a completely different band.”
The Spitfires prefer the live angle on music to the recorded one and when asked why, Sean says, “definitely live, as I’m more likely to get a shag out of it.” It’s this kind of light-hearted banter that recurs throughout our chat, especially with his answer to the following question about who they would like to play with in the future, or meet. “I’d like to meet Paul Weller, and also Katy Perry so I could crack onto her”.
Another thing The Spitfires seem to take not too seriously are their music videos. They combine piss-take scripts and a DIY ethos, which seems to complement the music. Bringing things back to the Songs From The Debt Generation tour, what can we expect from the Melbourne show?
“It’s one of the showpiece gigs of the tour, we are all really looking forward to it. Expect garage thrash, antics. We will probably be quite well behaved for the first 20 minutes, we will be really tight, sound great and then it will descend into a big beautiful mess like it always does.”
BY SCOTT NICOLSON
The Spitfires Songs From The Debt Generation is out now on Firestarter Distribution. They play The Grace Darling on Saturday September 1.