Self-deprecatingly, Oxford’s Spank Hair describe themselves as, “just another twinkly emo band”, which while not entirely untrue, doesn’t quite do them justice. The duo of Ali Crawford and Luke Allmond, Spank Hair have already shared stages with the likes of flirting, Witching Waves and Martha, so are well on their way to ticking off their DIY-scene support slot check-list. Having been active for a few years, the band are currently upping their activity levels with the recent release of their excellent EP, Just Like Me as well as a slew of dates in both their home city and further afield.
The EP opens with Tony Hawk, a song that seems to be less about skateboarding and more about heartache, as rapid maths-rock influenced verses give way to the fuzzy scream-along chorus of sorts, “come and see me like you used to, call me pathetic, or call me angry, I know you hate it but you’re just like me”. Particularly wonderful is the stripped back-outro, Spank Hair channelling their inner Saves The Day as over intricate guitars the pair sing in unison, “it’s hard to seize the day when there’s nothing to hold onto”. From there the EP slides into Big Brain, a song which starts with a bucket list of aims, “I want to see the world, I want to taste every Fanta flavour, I want to learn to Tango, I want to shake my moneymaker”, before collapsing head-first into reality with crushing guitars and clattering drums, “I just want to get too drunk, and spend every day asleep”. After the sludgy Claws, the record closes on Walk You Home, a track that showcases a brighter, twinklier sound reminiscent of Los Campesinos! or Don’t Worry as the self-admonishing lyrics reflect on past mistakes, “I should have dealt with my own shit, instead of forcing you to deal with it, I still want to see you when you get home”. There’s something really refreshing about the music Spank Hair make, a distinctly gritty, noisy, DIY affair that we’ve all been missing during the age of lock-down restrictions. While their music is undeniably a bit emo, as a celebration of friends getting together and making music together, Just Like Me couldn’t be more joyous.
FTR: For those who don’t know who are Spank Hair?
Ali: Spank Hair is Luke and I and we’re an indie/emo band from Oxford, UK. We’re inspired by bands like Joyce Manor, Los Campesinos! and Tigers Jaw. We originally formed as a side project with the goal of rejecting perfectionism and taking ourselves less seriously than our other bands. We wrote and recorded an album as fast as we could and realised we were having more fun than in our main bands and the music was better as a result.
Luke: Since then we’ve been playing shows around the UK and releasing songs. We’ve been lucky enough to play with some amazing bands like Pile, Martha, itoldyouiwouldeatyou, Supermilk, Orchards, Woahnows and we just signed with Heavenly Creature Records to release our new EP Just Like Me, back in January, with more to come.
FTR: What can you remember about your first show?
Ali: We advertised our first show as our first and last, since at that point we were just doing it for a laugh. It went down great though and we enjoyed it so much that we decided that if anyone asked us to then we’d play again. Luckily they did so we’ve been playing ever since.
Luke: Also! The first show we ever did was supporting legendary Oxford act Slate Hearts at their last ever show which was a massive privilege and absolute carnage, playing our first ever to a completely packed, sweaty room full of friends and strangers. Our drummer at the time had also broken her thumb in a carpentry accident and still played the show, which was incredibly punk of her.
FTR: Why do you make music? Why not another art form?
Ali: I think really it just comes down to the fact that we consume music more than we consume any other art form so we’re more naturally drawn to want to make music. One thing that’s cool about being in a band though is that it gives you an excuse to dabble in other art forms because you can design tshirts, make music videos, write lyrics, make album art etc. Of course there’s the performance aspect as well.
Luke: Literally my only skill is playing guitar so it’s really about necessity for me, but Ali could put his mind to anything and be the best at it, so it’s very nice of him to be in a band with me.
Also, some of my best memories of being alive have been at gigs and singing along to songs that I really love surrounded by people I love. Getting to pile into a car and drive to a new city so you can play some songs and make some new friends and hopefully make that experience happen for someone else is kind of my main goal. Also, it’s just something to keep the dark thoughts away.
FTR: What can people expect from a Spank Hair live show?
Ali: Almost every song is in a different tuning so you can expect a high energy performance punctuated by painfully long sections of awkward banter while Luke tunes his guitar.
Luke: I have a Freeze pedal that bands usually use to create some ambience while they’re tuning so they can be cool and mysterious instead of doing small talk but I always chicken out of using it because I’m not very cool or mysterious.
We’re also really good at playing live and we’re very handsome, so there’s something for everyone.
FTR: What’s next for Spank Hair?
Ali: We wrote and recorded lots of music over the last couple of years which we’re really proud of. Our latest EP ‘Just Like Me’ represents a big step forwards in terms of quality from our previous releases so we’re really keen to get people to hear it. Our label Heavenly Creature Records has definitely helped with exposure so we’re really grateful to be working with them. We’ve also got a couple of weekend tours in the works and plenty more music to put out.
Luke: We will be the first band to play on Mars and die of space madness.
They Listen To…
Breakup Haircut – Why Can’t I Be Cool Enough To Move To Berlin
Breakup Haircut are so great and we’re lucky enough to get to play with them in April in Oxford and London (hopefully once the gig is confirmed) come check them out!
Strange Ranger – Remember
Strange Ranger is the coolest band. Forward-thinking, always experimenting, amazing production and great songs. They’re based in New York, and I’m praying that they come to the UK one day.
Adults – msn
Adults are a great band and lovely people. Hopefully we’ll be playing with them soon.
Pile – My Employer (alternate version)
Pile are The Best Band and I’m constantly blown away by how creative, harsh and bleak their music is. This alternate version of My Employer CRUSHES MY SOUL every time I listen to it. We were very lucky to get to play If Not Now When festival in Oxford with them a few years ago before the world ended.
Algernon Cadwallader – Spit Fountain
One of our very first songs was a total rip off of this song by Algernon Cadwallader who we’re still trying to rip off to this day.
Just Like Me is out now via Heavenly Creatures Records. Spank Hair is playing with Breakup Haircut on April 9th at Signature Brew, Haggerston and April 10th at The Library, Oxford. For more information on Spank Hair visit https://spankhair.bandcamp.com/.