Donald Spence interview
Donald Spence has one of the best voices out there right now.
Period. For those of you who are not too familiar with him, he is the singer of the rock band Versus The World (check out http://www.saladdaysmag.com/versus-the-world-interview/). Donald – like many great punk rock singers – recently released his first solo record ‘The Late Shift’. Salad Days Mag had the chance of sitting down with him during the last tour stop of the Ataris ‘So Long Astoria’ reunion tour in New York City.
SD: When did the idea of starting your own gig come together?
DS: I’ve always kind of done it, even though I have never really recorded it. I have always played this kind of music at home when I was not on tour. There were so many other songs that I was writing for the new Versus The World record and the last record, and I felt like “I’m wasting all these songs”…
SD: Don’t you think these songs would have been a good fit for Versus The World?
DS: No, not at all. I write different types of music, you know. Versus The World is more of aggressive, and these songs are just soo different.
SD: Where do you take inspiration when writing your record ‘The Late Shift’?
DS: Old guys for sure. Willie Nelson, the Everly Brothers, Drag The River, Chuck Ragan. Pretty much travelers with acoustic guitars
SD: I never had the chance to hear anything from Crooks And Liars (Donald’s band before Versus The World. Was the sound similar to the one you have on ‘The Late Shift?
DS: Not really. ‘The Late Shift’ would be more a stripped down Crooks And Liars. Crooks And Liars is still kind of a punk rock band. This is more of sing-a-song writer. This is just mellower, just about the melody and the guitar play.
SD: During your concert you were wearing a Tony Sly t-shirt. How did Tony influence your music style? To me your sound is quite similar to the Tony Sly/Joey Cape splits.
DS: Me and Tony were friends before we did the solo stuff. He took me on my first tour. The first time I toured the US was for the Warped Tour (singing for Versus The World), with No Use For A Name. We became very good friends. He took me to Europe, Canada, US. Everything I learned about touring, I learned from Mike Davenport (Versus The World and The Ataris) and Tony Sly. Tony Sly wanted to produce the next Versus The World record. We were friends. It was a sad, sad day when he died. I remember on that day I was shopping for tuxedos for my wedding. Same day the Versus The World record came out. It really broke my heart.
SD: Mine too….why is your album called ‘The Late Shift’?
DS: I am a bar person, I am a musician. We keep the light on for the rest of the world. When I am home in Santa Barbara I am running bars, my wife works at restaurants for people that are up until 4am, and then – when I am on tour – I work at night too. We are the other half of the world. We are the vampires of the world.
SD: Out of curiosity, what bar in Santa Barbara do you run?
DS: I used to run the Velvet Jones for 10 years. My brother owns it. I got my start in Santa Barbara. I have been touring so much that I cannot work there anymore. So these days I bartend at an Irish bar called James Joyce. I like to be around alcohol and music.
SD: ‘The Late Shift’ is truly a gem, even though it consists of only 5 songs. Why releasing a record with just 5 songs?
DS: My plan is not to do a big-product 12-13 song albums every two years. My plan is to do about 5 songs every 8 or 9 months, and then release them, keeping on making music. I am in a position right now that I am free, and it’s new, and there is a lot of ideas in my head.
SD: Where did you record ‘The Late Shift’?
DS: In Los Angeles, at Infrasounds!
SD: When will you be touring again?
DS: This tour ends tonight, my first solo tour starts in 3 days, and then I am trying to work on another solo tour in September. In between them I will be writing the new Versus The World record.
SD: We can’t wait for it. When will that come out?
DS: I will be recording it in July, and it should come out by February…
SD: What are your thoughts about Spotify?
DS: My album is already on Spotify. I don’t really know how I feel about it, I don’t really care. I don’t stream music, I buy it. I have never done that. I’m an older dude, though. I never really got accustomed to streaming music. I buy my friends’ albums on tour, I go see their shows, even though Donald Spence’s album is indeed available on Spotify, do yourself and favor, support the scene and buy it at http://hardlineent.com/store/donald-spence-the-late-shift/.
(Txt & Pics by Stefano Lagerfeld x Salad Days Mag NYC – All Rights Reserved)