As part of Unsigned Band Week, we caught up with local “hybrid rockers” Spells And Curses to learn all about their formation, their latest release, Sinful Things, and more. Learn all about Spells And Curses from “theRave” and “theProfessor” in the interview below:
Where are you all from?
theRave: We both hail from the most culturally diverse salad bowl on Earth: Queens, New York.
How long have you been a band and how did you get started?
theProfessor: This band was started by theRave in his bedroom. He basically did the entire first album, Suadade, on his own, and it unexpectedly got some critical praise, so he got a bass player, and asked me to join as the drummer, so we could take the album out on the road.
theRave: Yeah, I suppose that’s pretty much how it went (laughs). I just was at a low point in my life, made music to sort my feelings out about it, showed some friends, and they dug it enough to encourage me to release it. Before I knew it, I got people like this madman here (points to theProfessor) expressing their interest in playing these tunes for people live.
How would you describe your music to someone who has never heard you before?
theProfessor: I would say it’s a complete shit show, in terms of defining it. We have slow songs, fast songs, heavy rock songs, a mid-tempo pop song, a jazz-influenced track, electronic songs, acoustic songs. I mean, it’s all over the place, which is a good thing. We don’t want anyone, including us, to get bored with this.
theRave: I once asked four friends of mine that same question they all had wildly different answers. So in an effort to remove any confusion, the simplest way to describe our music would be to say that it’s “below the belt rock”. What that means to me is that it’s music you don’t have to think about when listening to, but if you wanna peel the onion, there are layers to it still. There’s also a more R-rated version, but I’ll leave that one to your imagination.
What was your latest release of music and can you talk about that a bit?
theProfessor: The latest release is called Sinful Things. We recorded it over the course of last year and released it on our own. It’s six songs, and just under 40 minutes long.
theRave: Sonically speaking, our goal with this one was to clearly capture what we sound like live. So while every track has a live feel, each track has a specific element to it that’s been exaggerated to give it its own identity, as well as what I’d call a high “re-listenability factor”. Thematically speaking, it was actually inspired by a trip I had to Las Vegas not too long ago. I’m not sure what I can and can’t say about that trip (statute of limitations and whatnot), but I will say that what you hear on the album is heavily inspired by what really happened. It also serves as a narrative prequel to our last album, Suadade. In other words, everything that happens in Sinful Things would lead the protagonist of the story through the story and situations in Suadade.
What is your writing and recording process like?
theProfessor: Basically, I booked some recording time and put down the drum tracks to the demos that theRave gave me. Then, he layered all the instruments on top of my tracks, using some of the demo parts as well. theRave recorded his tracks in his own studio, and there were a lot of tracks. One of the songs (I won’t say which one) has over 60 guitar tracks. It was enormous. After we were done, we realized we couldn’t mix this on our own, so we made a list of about 20-30 people we would like to mix, and started contacting them. Some were big names we just simply couldn’t afford. Others were a little too trigger-happy with the compression and created a sound that we were not looking for. One guy we sent the rough mixes to actually said to us something like, “Fuck this—it’s too complicated. There are too many guitars!”
theRave: Actually, I believe what he said was, “You guys are fucking crazy!”
theProfessor: Oh that’s right! HA! Well luckily, we found Ben Schigel, who did an AMAZING job balancing this enormous production. He made it sound full and thick, without sounding overloaded or too compression-heavy. I can’t say enough good things about this guy and his ability.
theRave: Writing wise, I just keep myself open to the muse, I suppose? I’m that guy who drops everything he’s doing as soon as he gets a good idea in order to flesh it out. After I’m done with it, hopefully there’s enough authenticity in what I tried to convey. That’s what I listen back for every time I hear it. If it’s there, I keep it. If not, the world never hears it.
What are current projects you are working on?
theProfessor: Right now, I’m just focused on this record, playing more shows and getting it out to more people. We have a YouTube video that just hit over 7,000 views. We have a couple more videos coming, maybe a remix or two later this year, and definitely more shows.
theRave: I don’t care for other projects to be honest. I can’t imagine they’ll be as fulfilling. And I like calling all the shots!
What is your favorite memory as a band?
theProfessor: Wow, no one’s ever asked me that before. I guess I would have to say the final show of the Suadade tour about a year and a half ago. We played the Bitter End, and all our friends came to see us, plus there were quite a few new faces. It was the first time I noticed we were making waves. Small waves, but waves nonetheless. I think there were about 10-15 people there that I didn’t recognize and they were cheering for us! We played “If Only You Knew” off that first record and the crowd went nuts.
theRave: I remember that show was the first time I actually heard someone give me that “Woooooo” when I started singing the opening lines for “If Only You Knew”! Any singer knows EXACTLY what I’m talking about. Yeah, that felt nice (laughs). That was a good show. I’d also put the time we played to 10,000 people at the Queens Night Market’s opening night last year in the mix too. That was so surreal, I just couldn’t process all of it. Very much a trial by fire situation, but we made it through with some new friends on the other side.
What are your goals for the future as a band?
theProfessor: Uh…world domination! What else is there?
theRave: That works for me. Let’s go with what he said!
Where can readers find your music?
theProfessor: We’re everywhere. You can go to our website, www.spellsandcurs.es, and purchase a physical CD, or be directed to Bandcamp for the downloadable version. The Bandcamp version comes with an extensive 18-page digital booklet that’s exclusive to Bandcamp. You can also find us on Spotify, Tidal, Google Play, Apple Music, iTunes, and whatever else your little heart desires.
theRave: We’re also on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, SoundCloud, Twitter @spellsandcurses. Oh, and the digital booklet is also in the iTunes store too! I just like it a lot because it has a lot of cool unreleased pictures and theProfessor worked really hard on putting it all together!
theProfessor: Aww, thanks (smiles).
Spells And Curses will be playing at Debonair Music Hall (formerly known as Mexicali Live) in Teaneck, NJ on Aug. 16 and Arlene’s Grocery in Manhattan on Aug. 18.