10 Questions:


Adam Burton

Michael Wood

Olya Dyer

1/ Tell us about your last 18 months – you released an album at the end of 2015 and toured extensively late in 2016. What have been your high and low points as a band?

The high points were all the live shows we got to play. We were fortunate enough to tour in America, the UK and Europe with so many of our friends. Playing with so many new and old friends like PAWS, Radiator Hospital and Bent Shapes. The single highest point was headlining Indietracks Festival. It was the largest show we had ever played and it was quite emotional for us. It’s a festival we go to as punters every year so when we headlined our hearts were melting a little bit. Hearing that many people singing along to our silly songs is definitely a night we will never forget. The campsite disco afterwards was also a lot of fun!

A low point, for Niall at least, was when he dislocated his jaw. We were touring America in the summer and one day he woke up and couldn’t close his mouth (we realize some people may not view this as being any different to normal!). For about a week he had a mostly liquid diet and battled through the rest of the shows. Being terrified of the American health system and not wanting to cancel any shows he waited until we got back to the UK to go to hospital. He got an x-ray and found out it was dislocated. They gave him muscle-relaxants and massaged it back into place. Niall is adamant he only cried a little bit. He ended up seeing a dental surgeon who made him a giant mouth guard to protect his jaw and as a gift let him keep the cast of his teeth.


2/ The unrelenting shitstorm that is Brexit and Trump being president has left a lot of progressive people feeling quite hopeless and helpless and minorities in particular pretty frightened. As a politically conscious band, with an album called Try To Be Hopeful, do you have any advice to people in combatting that despair, taking action and staying hopeful?

Ha, well, we’re quite often just as stumped and disappointed by all of this as anyone else! In fact, after the Brexit result I remember feeling very inadequate seeing friends already making plans to take action and do useful, productive things to combat the racism and bigotry that the result enabled, when I was still despairing and feeling depressed about it. But after a little while I realised that I shouldn’t have been so hard on myself, sometimes you need to feel the despair for a little bit, mourn the world that you thought that you lived in, before you can get to the stage of thinking, ‘right, what can I do about this?’. Definitely playing gigs and being in (particularly queer) spaces alongside lots of super great people doing v good work is very helpful in staying hopeful about humanity, and also is often a really great way to find out how you can get involved in positive action.


3/ I’ve had the chorus to Burn Masculinity and Binary in my head for days. You guys really have a knack for turning your progressive politics in to dancey, anthemic pop. Could you tell us a little about your songwriting process?

The four of us will go away and individually come up with the bones of a song and bring it to the group. When we meet up we play each other our ideas and then start working on it as a team. Hearing the difference between the start and end of a song’s development is always fun. Because all four of us have played a part in the songwriting process there’s a nice feeling of collectiveness. We’re all equals and we’re all able to give each other ideas and feedback. It’s really exciting when we play a song as a four for the first time and we begin to feel it slotting together and becoming a Spook School song.


4/ Is there one song from your album that has connected most with audiences, based on the reaction at shows or the feedback you get from your fans?

Probably Binary. There’s something very funny and empowering about hearing people shout ‘I am bigger than a hexadecimal’! We’re not sure we’ve ever heard a song with the lyric ‘hexadecimal’ before so to have it as a lyric people sing along to is amazing.

5/ You’ve previously pledged to only play venues with gender neutral toilets, which is a great step forward. Are promoters and venues generally cool about this or have you come up against obstacles in observing the pledge?

Everybody has been really cool with it. It feels like venues don’t really know why they have binary toilets, it’s just what they always have had and they’ve never questioned it. When we come along they make them gender neutral and the feedback we’ve gotten from people attending the shows and the feedback they’ve given the venues has been amazing and moving. Something so simple as using a toilet in safety is not thought about by the majority of people. Feeling safe seems to be a privilege and we want people who come to our shows to feel safe and welcome.


6/ What more can be done, particularly by straight cis people, to create safe, comfortable, spaces where queer people feel confident, included and safe?

Obviously, if they are a band/performer, stuff like publicly having a policy of not tolerating transphobic, homophobic or racist abuse at shows or on their social media etc, as well stuff like ensuring access to accessible gender neutral toilets at shows are good first steps. We’re super excited to see more and more people doing this, and that it’s moving outwards from just queer bands, with people like the comedian Sofie Hagen recently announcing such a policy.

Carrying through those ideals in person is also a good thing. It’s one thing to say, for example, that your gigs are welcoming to all, but then if every one of your gigs invariably descends into bros hurling themselves around the crowd and creating an unsafe and unwelcoming environment and you say nothing or even encourage it then that kind of undoes any statements on social media or whatever.

For promoters, just booking more bills that aren’t all straight white cis dudes singing about girls is always a plus (to say the least, is anyone not bored of that already?). There are so many great bands made up of queer folks, women and people of colour around in the UK, so there’s no excuse really.

The final thing is probably just to listen if you are called out for something you’ve done, rather than leaping to defending yourself. Nobody knows everything, and we’re all going to do shitty stuff out of ignorance at some point, but the most important thing is that when someone brings that to your attention, you listen and change, rather than closing down. This is particularly important if you are in a position of power, such as a booker, venue owner label owner etc, where you shutting down a valid criticism can send a signal that you don’t care about whatever community/identity that person represents and make your scene less welcoming. We know of a few people in the scene (predominantly women and PoC) who have called out racism and sexism by others in the scene and, instead of learning and apologising, the individuals concerned have used their power to exclude those calling them out from the scene and call on others to harass them. This obviously sends a really bad signal and alienates many people.


7/ Any local bands you’d like to shout out, whether locally or other DIY queer punks making music across the UK?

Chrissy Barnacle and Rapid Tan in Glasgow are amazing. Jesus and his Judgmental Father (Leeds) and Daskinsey4 (Brighton) are pretty much the best bands in the world ever, and there’s a super exciting new queer, angry, funny band called Clammy Hands that Nye saw play in London recently and we’re really looking forward to them putting some music out hopefully in the near future.


8/ What’s the best piece of fan mail you’ve received?

We got given knitted doll versions of ourselves which was lovely and surprising! Niall’s is topless with knitted nipples. Niall also writes his own letters to people and has had some replies. He’s tried to set-up shows at Buckingham Palace and the Irish Presidential Residence and got replies from the Queen’s Office and the Irish President thanking him for the letters and politely fobbing him off. He offered Queen’s Park FC in Glasgow one of our songs to use as their anthem and they replied offering him the chance to be their mascot and dress up as a giant spider. He’s still hoping to get a free Saturday and pop down to Hampden Park!


9/ What does the rest of 2017 have in store?

We’re hoping to release a new album and do tonnes of touring. We’ve got lots of new songs we want to get in people’s ears and we have lots of silly ideas that we hope will come to some sort of fruition.


10/ Finally, what are your desert island book, film and album?

Easy! Grease 2: The Original Script. Grease 2: The Movie. Grease 2: The Soundtrack.



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