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‘Sick of all the critics, sick or PR. Sick of all the people who have fucked things up so far,’ screams Lord Zion on the opening track of Normalityville Horror, the latest album from SPiT LiKE THiS. Times have been tough of late for the British rock group, having overcome various obstacles within the music industry which, as they, if haven’t killed them only make make stronger. And Normalityville Horror is the result of this endeavour, a giant middle finger directed at all the naysayers.
‘Past members, lying labels, crap managers – people trying to take, take, take and promising the world and delivering squat,’ reveals bassist Vikki Spit on who that middle finger is for. ‘It’s a bit of a rant at liars and morons really. We are now thankfully in a position with the band itself and the people we work and associate with, where we don’t have any of that rubbish. Some people seem to move from self-inflicted drama to self-inflicted drama, it gives me a headache. Now we make a point of not working with anyone who brings that junk to the table.’
It has been over three years since the release of their full-length debut We Won’t Hurt You (But We Won’t Go Away) and since then SPiT LiKE THiS have undergone a line-up change, with guitarist Cyndi Rott now replaced by Rob Riot, while also progressing from Cargo Records to Dark Lord Records. This new home for the group was formed by producer Chris Tsangarides, whose past work included a Grammy nomination for the 1991 Judas Priest classic Painkiller. Lord Zion has documented the long gestation of Normalityville Horror through a website, talking fans through the stories behind each song and the process of the recording and remastering of the album. The recording took place over nineteen days in July 2010 at Tsangarides’ studio The Ecology Rooms, overlooking the White Cliffs of Dover in Kent. Just days later, the band were onstage at the Wacken Open Air festival in Germany.
‘Chris and I had discussed a lot what I wanted the album to sound like and, once the recording process started, I arrived with reams of notes,’ says Lord Zion on working alongside Tsangarides. ‘However, you don’t work with a guy like CT and take over – you make the most of his knowledge and expertise and you value his opinion. So he engineered the whole thing and did the vital knob-twiddling. Of course, he asked for our input all the way along and there wasn’t any point where he thought one way and I thought another. It was an extremely amicable environment; we were both working toward the same goal, it seemed.’
Commencing on 15 July, the first week saw Tsangarides recording a basic layout of each song, the bare bones of what would eventually become Normalityville Horror. Over the next week the band recorded the overdubs and fine-tuned the vocals, while the last seven days saw Tsangarides and Lord Zion mixing the final product.
Despite work on the album coming to an end in 2010, it has taken a year and a half for Normalityville Horror to see the light of day. While this would suggest that there were issues with the end result the truth is far less dramatic. Tsangarides had informed the band that he intended on forming his own label and wanted to release the record himself, but twelve months later Normalityville Horror was still gathering dust. But after Lord Zion and his bandmates were introduced to Tsangarides’ business partner Dave Cousins, the mastermind behind The Strawbs, best known for their 1973 classic Part of the Union, SPiT LiKE THiS finally signed with Dark Lord Records in February 2012.
The majority of the writing took place during the first half of 2010, with eight new songs making their way onto the album. Elsewhere there is live favourite Teen Angel and a re-recording of Dragged Kicking & Screaming, a track that was first released on an early EP. There is a general ‘fuck you’ theme running throughout Normalityville Horror, which comes from Lord Zion writing from the heart this time around.
‘Even though I have always written the lyrics, I never paid much attention to them. They were nearly always stylised and written for verbal effect – the phonetics of a particular word more important than its meaning,’ he admits. ‘Music is a combination of how music and words sound together (which is why people will listen to opera without understanding a word of it) but, every now and again, I would accidentally write something real, with a story, based on personal events. And guess what? These were the songs that people seemed to connect with more.’
While Normalityville Horror was crafted as a reaction to the negative individuals who had surrounded the band over the last few years it was never conceived as a concept album, although Lord Zion always intended for it to commence with the track Sick and conclude with Dead to Me Now. Opening with an aggressive drum roll by Vile Gilez, Sick set the scene perfectly; SPiT LiKE THiS are done with taking shit! ‘The music industry is a horrible beast where low-life scum prey on the hopes and dreams of passionate artists. It is really sad. As someone who is honest to the core, I just do not understand the need to be dishonest – I see it as a weakness,’ Lord Zion explains when discussing the meaning behind the song.
‘Thankfully, the experiences we endured led me to make a decision; we would ONLY surround ourselves with trustworthy people,’ he continues. ‘At the first sniff of anything dodgy, we would remove that person from Team Spit. I can happily say that everyone we are currently involved with is the very best type of human there is; honest. Anyone in a band reading this, I would advise you to think the same. The scumbags of the industry will do nothing other than take from you then cast you aside once they have drained you of your will and your resources. You are better off without them.’There is no doubt that Normalityville Horror eclipses all previous SPiT LiKE THiS releases, boasting such instant classics as Zero to Sixty and Very Good at Being Bad. Running at just forty-one minutes, the album is short and sweet and refuses to outstay its welcome.
‘It’s heavier, very riff-based with strong melodies. This album was written by the band together and, as such, it’s an album which we can perform live almost exactly as it appears on record, which is pretty cool,’ says Vikki enthusiastically. ‘We understand what we are now, it felt before like we were finding ourselves. A lot of that really has to do with our current (and I hope final) guitarist, Rob Riot. His style of playing really compliments my bass and the drums; it gives us a real tight, hard edge which was missing before. I absolutely love it.’
Lord Zion concurs; ‘Over time, you start to realise what you like playing live and what people respond to best. Normalityville Horror is the first release we have made that reflects SLT as a proper, live rock band. Our live reputation has always been great and now we have the record to back that up.’