Originally formed at Vassar College in the Autumn of 2016, Spud Cannon are a musical quintet, currently based out of possibly my favourite named place on the planet, Poughkeepsie. The band recently teamed up with Good Eye Records for the release of their third album, Good Kids Make Bad Apples.
The album was recorded in the unusual setting of a squash court after the band (allegedly if anyone at Vassar is reading this) snuck in and recorded all-night sessions in the perspex, Wall-of-Sound-style box. The result is a record of immediacy and urgency, at least partly inspired by a particularly gruelling touring experience that left the band on the verge of dissolution, yet ultimately brought them closer together than ever before. Ultimately, Good Kids Make Bad Apples isn’t just a record, it’s a celebration, a reminder to have fun, enjoy life and dance like nobody’s watching. Take the jaunty, Talking Heads meets Tune-Yards thrills of You Got It All (NOT), it’s a musical pep-talk to believe in yourself and remember to keep your friends close at hand. Elsewhere, Lovely, with its chiming keys and swooping vocal melodies, more than lives up to its name, while closing track Easy fuses the B52s stomp with a garage-rock thrust The Strokes would be proud of. Perhaps best of all is the record’s opening track, and first single, Juno, a song that apparently took them 70+ takes, yet somehow sounds as fresh and exciting as if they’d just improvised it in front of you, bringing to mind the likes of Pom Poko or Century Egg. Spud Cannon are the reminder we all need sometimes that music, and indeed life, are meant to be fun, bad apples or not, these kids are most definitely alright.
FTR: For those who don’t know who is Spud Cannon?
A rock-roll conglomerate formed in the mecca of indie rock, Poughkeepsie NY, in 2017. Meg Matthews (vox), Jackson Walker Lewis (guitar), Lucy Horgan (bass), Ariana Bowe (keys), Ben Scharf (drums).
FTR: What can you remember about your first show?
Jackson: I remember it was a rainy Wednesday night, and the pizza looked absolutely disgusting.
Ariana: It was in December — We piled into a friend’s car and played at a pizza joint to an audience of roughly five people. I personally remember playing very badly and being offered no free pizza.
Lucy: There were about ten people in the audience, it was dark, the pizza was soggy, and I played a beat behind the whole set. When we were packing out at the end my then-boyfriend played a game of chess with the owner and lost.
Meg: A few people smoking outside! Which meant there was no one inside at that point… It was us, the other band, and Lucy’s boyfriend. The boyfriend really hit it off with the guy running the pizza place– and at least pretended to like the slice!!
There’s one picture of all the spuds on a couch in that place… I remember really liking that it at the time– not a great pic but was just one of the first times it felt like were really a band!
FTR: Why do you make music? Why not another art form?
Jackson: One of my favorite aspects of playing in this band is actually the fact that in a way it includes all art forms. Not only do we make music, we get to make music videos, graphic design show posters, T-shirts. One of our favorite things in college was decoratively staging our shows–we even themed one ‘The Spuds Go To Space’ and wrapped the entire stage area in reflective mylar. We still love to do stuff like that–for this album cycle, we refinished all of our amplifiers in fire-engine red.
Lucy: Writing songs allows you to make poetry that is less pretentious and more interactive. Music is an art form that you can share easily, and ideally evoke emotional responses from the audience because they can relate to the lyrics. Every time we play live the subtle differences in the performance of the songs capture the energy of that night.
Meg: Making music simply doesn’t feel like work. It’s therapeutic! I’ve always been able to enjoy other art forms, but music is the only one that consistently feels cathartic. The rush I feel after a good practice with the band just can’t be beat!
Ariana: Music is such a collaborative art form, especially when you’re playing with other people in a band. When we really click during practice or during a live show, it’s one of the greatest feelings. And for me personally, this album cycle reinvigorated my love for visual art forms too; I designed our merch and spent weeks silkscreening t-shirts and tote bags.
FTR: What can people expect from the Spud Cannon live show?
Jackson: A complete hip shakin’ sonic-induced loss of their inhibitions, whether they want it or not.
Ariana: Lots of energy and full-volume debauchery.
Lucy: Laughing, crying, bumping, grinding, sweat, and glitter; a euphoric sonic experience.
Meg: All of your dreams will instantly come true.
FTR: What’s next for Spud Cannon?
Lucy: Keep playing more live shows, spread our sound to the far corners of the world, and become rich and famous.
Jackson: Amen, sister.
They Listen To…
The Brian Jonestown Massacre – Anemone
Jackson: One of my all-time favorite bands (if not favorite). While their influence on me musically is minimal, Anton Newcombe’s influence on my philosophy towards music is indelible. My dad showed me DiG! As a young teen, and from the jump something about it struck a chord in me–with or without the ‘music industry’ behind him, through thick and thin, Anton made uncompromising art, and the art he wanted to make. He constructed songs manically, churning out a prolific catalog that took decades to find its cult audience. But eventually, it did. And that’s what’s so inspiring to me: He never quit. He made writing music look fun. He took the piss out of it. And he never sold out, or compromised on his vision. This is a classic tune from them, the song that first hooked me.
The Pixies – Velouria
Ariana: When I was in high school, my dad gave me his vast CD collection which included Bossanova by the Pixies. I immediately fell in love with track 3, “Velouria.” One thing I appreciate about “Velouria” is there are so many melodic parts to listen to — my favorite being Kim Deal spelling “V-E-L-O-U-R-I-A” for the last chorus and outro. It’s among the more tame of Pixies lyricism, but I love how they can write about anything — destruction, confusion, a moment in time — and make it sound so mythical, so unequivocally Pixies. That’s what I appreciate about the Pixies’ sound, imagery, album artwork, and even their name — it’s all so them. They stayed true to themselves and their weird visions, and that’s what gives lasting power to good music.
LCD SOUNDSYSTEM: US V THEM
Ben Scharf (drums): LCD Soundsystem’s signature marriage of dance, electronic, and rock music has filled my headphones for many years. Relentlessly playing their music in the mini-van on the way to gigs, I can only hope that some of their sounds have come to influence Good Kids Make Bad Apples. Songs like Out! and Lovely find us experimenting with new rhythms, instruments, and synth sounds. However, throughout this journey, we agreed that our natural, unadulterated live sound as a band should serve as the centerpiece of the album. It was this idea of uniting our experimental and electronic interests, with our reputation as a rowdy live band, that I would like to think stemmed, in some part, from James Murphy and company.
RUBBLEBUCKET: Habit Creature
Meg Matthews (lead vox): I’ve long admired Rubblebucket’s ability to mix genres and turn tumultuous experiences into danceable bops, and Sun Machine does this especially well. Through energetic beats, catchy melodies, and sassy yet heartfelt lyrics, the album chronicles deeply emotional journeys such as addiction and self-discovery— and tells many stories of within-band relationships. When you put the music first, the band not only survives the strain of breakups and other clashes, but comes out with healthier dynamics and more creativity than ever before.
Alvvays – Not My Baby
Lucy Horgan (bass and vox): Alvvays is always featured heavily on my personal playlists (pun intended). The vocals are airy and sweet, supported by dreamy instrumentals that hit hard. Their songs are a delicious blend of upbeat and melancholy, which I feel is the best way to write about heartbreak and pain across the board. I really appreciate their beautiful blend of female harmonies, and I definitely feel that aspect of their songwriting inspired our vocal creative process.
Good Kids Make Bad Apples is out now via Good Eye Records. For more information on Spud Cannon visit https://spudcannonband.com/.