It’s been a long time coming, but Glasgow quartet Suspire have, finally, released their debut album. With ten shiny indiepop tunes in the can, the time seemed right to have Brian Cunningham fill in the gaps…
Brian Cunningham: Bass, Vocals, Producer
Paul Duffin: Guitar, Keys, Vocals
Chris Kelly: Guitar
Clare Duffin: Drums, Management/PR
Where? / When?
We are a hard working band full of driven articulate individuals. If we were to collectively sum ourselves up I imagine the word ‘pragmatic’ would be apt. We try to bring harmony to our busy lives through music, but we usually introduce the chaos of our lives into the music. It keeps things interesting.
Suspire has existed in one form or another for about a decade now. There have been many transitional phases as members came and went and sounds changed but, in the current format, Suspire has been kicking about for about 3 years. When I first joined there was a period of readjustment as we tried to bring our sound up-to-date. Ironically, we did this by investing heavily in a lot of equipment that moved our sound back in time. This was around the time that I was developing a production set-up called Axis Sounds with the view to write and release records through Clay Davis Records under my own outfit. To give some context on the chronology, Suspire had just released Salvation Sister and it had changed everyone’s perceptions of the band and the music and, more importantly, it gave the individuals a confidence in themselves at a time when the great unknown was beckoning [bass player and Paul’s brother was not only leaving the band but emigrating to Canada]. This confidence was strengthened with a relatively successful single release and an award at the SNMAs.
Then I joined, and with some creditable recordings under our belt we decided to get moving on our debut album. It’s an interesting record as it spans quite a long period of time and it’s possible to hear the changes in our sound through the evolution of writing and recording techniques. I think it keeps the record sounding fresh and diverse, and this is something that many critics have commented on. Paul and I’s vision was for an ‘album full of singles’ and I think we have managed to compile an enjoyable 38 minutes or so of interesting little ditties!
For us, the song is king! It’s about believing that the end-product is as perfect as it can be. However, this isn’t about meticulously sweating over every percussive hit or endlessly pouring over lyrics until every nuance sings. It’s more about satisfaction. Our philosophy is to create interesting little soundscapes that make people want to dance, sing or sit back and relax to. I believe, as a producer, that when it feels right… it’s right! In order for us to create more convincing tracks and open up the possibility for synchronisation on TV, Films and computer games we knew we had to invest in the technology. This opened the door for us to try our hand at pop. Pop can be a dirty word when people associate it with the factory made, unit-shifting, bubblegum chewing puerility that clogs up the charts and the majority of air play in the UK. But Pop has always pioneered new technologies, new sounds and we identify with it as a genre that is cutting edge. It is perhaps frowned upon to say it, but I think there is as much value with in-the-box production as there is putting a collection of microphones in front of some musicians and asking them to play. The goal, for us, is harmony in both of these worlds and we believe this album is a great showcase of acoustic recordings with embedded synths, and vice versa.
Our pragmatic approach allowed us to discipline ourselves into writing packaged songs with no real fat. It is a lean album; in and out. We wanted to tell stories through the production rather than the girth of the song or depth of the lyrics. Not to say that there isn’t any value to the lyrics. On the contrary, I am extremely proud of our collective poetic endeavours, but we managed to re-program our musical brains in order to say what we had to say and get out. This required patience but overall it was a lot of fun.
I suppose we make music for the same reason as everyone else; selfishness. “buy our album”, “buy some tickets”, “listen to my new song”… etc. Art is weird. Paul commented recently that Art should be enjoyed and not consumed and for me that sums up why we do it. We want to contribute our own little stories to the rich tapestry made by our predecessors. Humans have a conditioning that makes us lust to be remembered. Perhaps its the only control we have over our own mortality – “maybe I can’t live forever but my music will”. In that line of thought I think the answer is revealed. It isn’t about money, or fame… it’s about exposure and I, like the rest of Suspire, appreciate the fact that art has to be good to be remembered. I’ll let other people argue what constitutes “good” in a world based entirely in the subjective but all we can do is write our songs, have our laughs and create well-produced music for people to enjoy.