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Creative Throat Clearing - A Spit Reminiscence

My one great memory of the Spit creative process was during, I think, the second day of recording the first album, On Your Grave. Taking a break around noon, I drew the short straw and had to go to the fish and chip shop near Ev's place for lunch. Chris and Ev were still in the living room, fooling around with the guitar. As I jumped on my bike and left, I said "Write complete song by the time I get back." So they did. Four catchy verses and a chorus of what pretty much proved to be our signature tune, the brilliant misogynist revenge fantasy "Gerald the Gnome". Melodic and sinister and hastily-written, that song really set the Spit archetype in stone.

Remembering those breezy summer days, I still feel slightly creeped out.

Spit for me was never really about the performances - probably something to do with the fact that unlike Ev, I didn't actually have a musical instrument to metaphorically hide behind (a kazoo is a poor emotional shield, no matter how flamboyantly you wield it). But however much I may have protested - and I whinged a lot - I loved the recording sessions. I loved cramming three or four or five people into Ev's living room and bashing out lyrics, listening to Ev pick out a melody and then spending an agonising twenty or thirty minutes failing to work out what beat I should come in on.

I guess if I'm going to be honest, the performances weren't so bad either. I don't want to undersell how good it feels to perform in front of a live audience and know that, just for a few fleeting seconds, a handful of people you've known for years are cheering just for you. Or well, for Ev, probably. But I was there.

We did some good work, I think. Some important work. Even after all these years it's hard to overestimate the significance of Spit's insights into critical social issues like teenage alienation (The Apathy Song), the decline of integrity in modern journalism (BA Santamaria, Richard Carlton, Ron Casey) and being a waxworks dummy (numerous). Maybe we went into some dangerous territory once in a while - in retrospect I guess the four-note hooter solo in "Saddam" was a little edgier than we'd planned - but it was the journey that mattered.

And sure, we were rough, back in those days. It's always harder when you're blazing a trail for others to follow, carving out a niche in an overcrowded recording industry. I look around today at those bands that acknowledge Spit as an influence - your TISMs, your Tenacious Ds, your TMBGs - and I think, "There but for the grace of Spit something something." And sure, some of those bands have been around a lot longer than us, and sure, maybe they mostly have better equipment, lyrics and musical talent. Oh, and lucrative recording contracts, millions of fans and critical and commercial success. But do they have the stuff that's made Spit such pioneers for the past decade? Well of course they don't. And they never will.

I like to think of Spit as the Greatest Band that Never Was. Or as the Forgotten Gods of Indie Comedy Folk-Rock. Or maybe as the Little Red Engines that Couldn't Quite. Well, the point is that I like to think of Spit. I'm sure you're the same yourself. And now here we are in the second decade of this compelling phenomenon, this captivating musical journey that is Spit, and like you I am asking myself: "Where does Spit go from here? Is this all there is? Have Spit, like that guy in that poem, found that there are no more worlds to conquer?"

If it were so, then in the words of that Prince of Lyricists (Chris or Ev, I can't remember): "Lady, that would be just fine". But between you and me, I think there'll be more Spit somewhere down the road. And whether you're a die hard fan or a casual acquaintance whose nose is a little out of joint from being called "lady", I know you'll be along for the ride.