Long distance relationship - Spinning Coin’s Jack Mellin on his band’s remote work setup
For bands from a certain era, musical reunions seem to be all the rage.But, for Scots combo Spinning Coin, every tour is like a get-together.
While guitarist Jack Mellin,like drummer Chris White, is based in Glasgow,vocalist Sean Armstrong and Rachel Taylor (keyboard / bass) are in Berlin.However, the pair aren’t in the hipster capital through choice – Canadian Taylor retreating to the German capital for visa reasons.
“If we had the choice, we’d all live in Glasgow, but it’s made us stronger, aware of how much we want to work together as a band,” Mellin says.
“We could have given up quite easily,” he continues, “but we definitely want to do it –we’re in touch all the time, sending each other new songs and ideas so it doesn’t seem to have held us up too much. Though we would like to practice every week, that’s what we did before they left.”
With other musicians facing major difficulties post-Brexit it’sunusual that Spinning Coin’s troubles predate this.
“We’ve avoided talking about that a little – it’s been a personal thing but also a lot of people are going through much worse – we feel lucky we’re able to kind of manage it and get by.”
As one of three songwriters in the band Mellin has in the past channelled his feelings into his more… nihilistic songs, while Sean, and now Rachel – who replaced bassist Cal Donnelly – deal with the ‘emotional’ side of things. Mellin has described the new material overall as being about “the need for love in an often very unloving world,” perhaps developing a theme explored on 2017 debut album ‘Permo’.
“On the last album I was going for quite an in-your-face, willingly naive take – ‘money is a drug’ or whatever – though I don’t have any solutions.”
“On this album my songs are a bit more open to interpretation, but they’re still very serious for me.”
There will be a change of sound for lovers of that debut as well – recorded in the space of just a couple of days, in the east of France.
“We’ve always wanted to play in Europe,” says the guitarist, “more than going to America or touring the UK loads… to travel is such a privilege, and such a big part of being in a band.”
“The recording was in the middle of a tour, which in some ways was a bit of a mistake,” the guitarist laughs, “as we were pretty fried when we came to record, but that was the idea, we’d been playing the songs for a few months and wanted to get them down fast.”
There is urgency in the sub-three minute jangle of ‘Hyacinth’s 13 tracks, but there’s a sense of calm too, perhaps evoking the pastoral atmosphere of the French countryside.
“It was maybe quite a stressful two days,” Mellin recalls. “We were very aware time was running out because we knew Rachel would have to leave in January, but looking back it was totally worth it.
“(Producer) Peter Deimel filled us with confidence in his abilities to capture it properly.”
The choice of studio was something of a lucky coincidence, Black Box also the choice of cult American singer songwriter Nina Nastasia, who made her ‘Run To Ruin’ album there with recording legend Steve Albini.
“I don’t really know many studios but I loved that album,” Mellinenthuses, “it always stood out having an amazing atmosphere and sound.
“Then someone at Domino suggested (Black Box) as a possibility, and I was “wow, the one the studio I’m aware of!”
“Supposedly it’s one of Steve Albini’s favourite European studios.”
I remark that Albini - best known for working with Nirvana and Pixies - has produced many Scots acts including Mogwai and Spare Snare.
“He gets about,” Mellin laughs.
That label assistance is something the band can appreciate, given their own DIY roots. Although, despite Domino Records being something of a ‘super-indie’ (home to Franz Ferdinand and Arctic Monkeys), ‘Hyacinth’ will again appear on Geographic, an offshoot imprint run by underground hero Steven Pastel.
It's a a far cry from when the various members of Spinning Coin hooked up - the Winning Sperm Party label giving away free music via Myspace, and playing 'generator gigs’ in warehouses by the Clyde. The band’s various members still keep busy with side projects, including surf-rock collective Smack Wizards, and Mellin is part of the live line-up for Scottish Album of the Year Award-winning duo Sacred Paws.
“It’s a lot more pressure” Mellin admits, “it’s so different from making your own records where you could release it next day but only get a couple of people being positive about it.
“This is a more than a year more after we’ve recorded it and people are seeing it as a big statement, and we’re ‘What did we do? We wrote some songs…’”
‘Hyacinth’ is out now on Geographic – more at spinningcoin.net.
The band play the following album launch shows:Thuday March 12 - Sneaky Pete’s, EdinburghFriday March 13 - Beat Generator Live!, DundeeSunday March 15 - CCA, Glasgow