"I'm folk singing all the time, and they make sure it's not that way by the end of it."
When Marcus Gordon started Spookyland, it was a solo project filled with acoustic and folky music. However, as the project grew, the 25-year-old singer-songwriter added more members to the act — turning it into the band we know today. The Sydney band released their latest album, Beauty Already Beautiful, and have toured with the likes of The Lemonheads and The Vines. Myspace had the chance to sit down with Gordon to learn more about the band over coffee in Sydney. Learn more about Spookyland below.
Hometown and Homebase: Sydney, Australia
What are some of your first musical memories?
Probably driving in the car and listening to Phantom of the Opera and the Bee Gees with my family. They were our two CDs in the car. I didn't really like music that much because Phantom of the Opera and Bee Gees, I thought that's what music was. I was very little, maybe four or five or something.
When did you shift and realize that you not only like music but also something you want to pursue?
My oldest brother got into playing guitar, and I kind of always followed what he did. He stopped playing it, but I kept doing it. He was into punk music and stuff, and that's when I realized I wanted to play guitar.
How did Spookyland get together?
I've been doing it solo for a few years, and one of my brothers is in it. One of my friends and another guy are in it now. And I recorded it solo [at first] with other musicians. We just wanted to get people together to play a live show, and that's how it all started. We went into it really heavy from then on. We didn't mean it to be. It kind of stuck that way.
What's the significance of the band name?
I really don't remember. I think I was googling names as a teenager, looking for something. It wasn't something copyrighted. It had the word, "spooky," in it.
Since you started as a solo project then grew into a band, how do you feel the music and your approach to it has changed?
The band has grown a lot together, and what I do is now is different than what I used to do. I think the difference is looking at the song and what's good about it, even if it is just chords and lyrics, and honor what's good about it anyway. The band's pretty adaptable to being anything, but I think what they do is moving away from conventions a bit. I'm folk singing all the time, and they make sure it's not that way by the end of it.
You have this Bob Dylan quality to your voice. Who are your influences?
Are there any songs that you wish you wrote?
Pretty any song by them, I wish I had written. "Kimberly" by Patti Smith. I'm really jealous of that song.
What's your favorite song off Beauty Already Beautiful to perform? And which is the one you had the hardest time with?
"Bulimic" is the funnest to play, the last song. I think it's because it was written naturally. It was written as a jam, not as a song song. The song, "Prophet," has always been a pain in the ass to play. I don't know what it is about it. It never feels like it's quite there.
You guys recorded the album in Omaha, Nebraska. Why did you guys record there? And how do you feel that changed the approach to recording considering that you weren't in your homebase?
The producer we worked with had done string arrangements at that studio. So he was raving about it, and we worked out that it was cheaper than Sydney to fly all the way to America and be in a better studio. There's lots of vintage gear and stuff. I think what was cool about it was that it was two weeks. We lived together, didn't have to think of normal life and just do it, unlike doing it in your own town.
But Spookyland is no stranger to US audiences and played Lollapalooza and SXSW. How has your experience performing in America been?
I would say the crowds are quite different. In Sydney, people fold their arms. You don't really know what's going on. They're more open to being entertained in the U.S. It doesn't always work that way. Generally, they're just warmer. They don't know who you are, but they're willing to find. I think that's the big difference.
You've opened for the Lemonheads, Band of Skulls and more recently, The Vines. What did you take away from touring with these acts?
It's tricky. The main thing is it's nice to see that those people don't change. They're still very young at heart and very kind. It's just a reality check because you're in the same old grind all the time. I think it's just encouraging to see people who're quite a few steps ahead, and it's really not that different.
We're working on the next album. It's still very early stages, but a lot's been written. We're trying to work out what's not horrible, and start from there.
So how do you figure out what's horrible and what's not?
Generally I write a bunch of ideas. And I play it to them, and they don't want to play it or play it for a while and then say, "Let's do something else," that's usually a test to say it wasn't a good song.
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