Flies Are Spies From Hell - Southampton - August 2008

Interview by Aline Giordano, article by Aline Giordano and Andrew Heather

Spies Are Flies From Hell in ConcertI’d heard of Flies Are Spies From Hell through a mutual friend and, having checked out their Myspace, I arrived at Southampton's Joiners full of expectation. I went away having not only spent a great night immersed in heavy sounds and crafted melodies, but also introduced to the post-rock new wave scene that is growing stronger in England.

When the supporting band, Monsters Build Mean Robots, came onstage, my interview with Flies was drawing to a close and I could sense that all the guys were keen to see MBMR play. This showed not only commendable respect for their fellow musicians but also just how passionate they are about music. “We have a policy which is that we don’t play with bands we don’t like or respect”, Chris (guitarist) acknowledges. Will (other guitarist) spoke very highly of Eat Lights Become Lights with whom they shared a bill at their Brixton’s Windmill concert the night before they played at the Joiners.

The interview took care of the history of the band. Originally from Petersfield, Flies met at school and started a band, one of those cheesy cover bands, back in 2004. The singer left after the first gig, which turned out to be a blessing in disguise. They were already listening to instrumental music at that point, bands like Explosion in the Sky and Mogwai, so going instrumental was a natural progression; and as Will admitted: “We’re better at writing music than writing lyrics”.

Flies may not have been confident at writing lyrics (I take their word for it) but they do take great care crafting their music and, in their way, the songs still somehow manage to weave a story. In my mind for instance, ‘Next Hour’ carries me away to a strange dream-like existence, perhaps the magical parallel world of the Flies...

… The song’s opening (a minimalist and repetitive piano melody reminiscent of early 65 Days of Static) takes me to the place where I’ve just landed in my spaceship! I’m probably a spy, I probably departed from hell and I’m probably, for argument’s sake, a fly (a small insignificant fly like all of us are). My insect craft has run out of oxygen and I’m gasping for a new start. The door opens and I crawl out because, let’s face it, what else am I going to do when I’m an intergalactic fly?

About to take the plunge, the gentle guitar melodies arrive just in time to accompany my watchful journey of discovery. Gliding peacefully along smelling the flowers is a dream, yet somehow you just know the moment of tranquillity isn’t going to last and, sure enough, bursting in to disturb my comfortable haze come the drumming and the effective and addictive distorted guitar riffs. The momentum is set and all instruments mesh perfectly to create an intimate, atmospheric and dramatic journey which crescendos into a contained explosion of huge guitar sounds, leaving me cleansed of my daily fly routine and, more importantly, purged of my preconceived idea that instrumental music can’t be as emotional as a song with lyrics. This is a magnificent, accomplished song with a huge sound.

Back to the Joiners… Chris later came to me with a list of bands to check out, which would be my introduction to the post-rock scene that he loves: God Speed You! Black Emperor (Quebec), Isis (USA), Mono (Japan), Explosion in the Sky (USA), and 65 Days of Static (UK). It was so refreshing to be among young talented musicians who are so articulate, so keen to talk about their passion, and so devoted to progressing their band and the scene it’s evolving in. Chris is involved in the Chichester based arts festival I Am Joy when he is not playing for Flies are Spies from Hell.

For more details, visit… Flies Are Spies From Hell Myspace

Photograph © Aline Giordano 2008