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Spinning Coin pertain to a kind of paradoxical pop that deals in both euphoria and melancholy and the juxtaposition between politics and escapism. The band’s debut LP ‘Permo’ is reminiscent of everything triumphant about Glasgow’s music scene; it evokes indie pop’s pinnacle of the mid 80s, particularly during a time when Thatcher’s government saw an increasing amount of bands combining politics with pop.
From the placid, melodic pop of ‘Raining On Hope Street’ to the confrontational, pissed-off ‘Magdeline’ – envisage a hybrid of The Pastels’ woozy individualism and early Teenage Fanclub’s melodic approach to traditional rock and you’re nearly there.
The band’s politically charged lyrics draw parallels with Malcolm Eden’s harrowing social commentary in McCarthy’s political narrative, for example: see ‘Money Is A Drug’ s tendency to confront class war: “there’s many people living in luxury, many people living in misery” sings guitarist and vocalist Sean Armstrong.
This is something that Spinning Coin are noticeably passionate about as I ask them what fuelled the more political subjects ‘Permo’ is littered with, but they are reticent when it comes to allowing politics to define them: “We just write about what we care about be it political or otherwise,” explains Sean. “We are not trying to influence people as much as we are saying what we feel. The words 'class war' came from seeing a headline in a newspaper and being disgusted by the divisive nature of that idea. The rich think the poor are stealing from them and the poor think the rich are stealing from them.”
“Money was made by humans to serve humans but we seem to have let it take control of us. The song in particular has extremely simple lyrics because I think it's a much more simple subject than we are led to believe. I was writing it knowing that people who are into economics would think that it was a load of hippy bullshit, but it's not! If humanity wanted to share and work together we could easily overcome the difficulties we face, but ideas like class and financial wealth keep us apart from each other. Compassion and love are more powerful than money.”
Rather than explicitly confront current issues, Spinning Coin also rely on escapism in their music and balance the two with proficient skill. Drummer Christ White argues that the two are not mutually exclusive: “I think you’ve got to express yourself however you feel. Escapism is still real and part of the world. In a way everything is political. We are just writing for ourselves and if it comes across as very political it’s because it’s part of us rather than us trying to force out opinion on anyone.”
Sean Armostrong, Chris White and Jack Mellin met via timely happenstance amidst Glasgow’s DIY scene, attending various gigs over the years: “We met playing together at the same gigs with bands we were/are still in – The Yawns, Plaaydoh and Smack Wizards – we met Cal (Donnelly) at a session in Green Door Studio, and Rachel (Taylor) at a gig in London just before she moved to Glasgow,” says Sean.
Asking a band about their name is a typically tedious and frowned-upon question, but I was curious to know where the name Spinning Coin came from – in part because I suspected there might be some association with Leeds band Beards (a celebrated DIY band who’ve only recently and very sadly announced their split): “It comes from hypno coin, a hypnotist's coin that we saw advertised in an old comic. Also, 'Spinning Coin' is a song by a band we really like called Beards,” explains Jack.
We move on to the subject of Glasgow and the advantages of living in a city with such cultural significance. Glasgow’s most celebrated artist, Edwyn Collins, produced Spinning Coin’s debut album: “Stephen (Pastel) introduced us to Edwyn. It was great working with him, lots of fun! He had a very laid back but encouraging attitude. We also really enjoyed our late night chats and meals with Edwyn and Grace who run the studio together. Stu Evans at Green Door Studios in Glasgow also produced it, which is a very important non-profit studio that has helped us all individually and as a band. At Green Door they award scholarships to young unemployed musicians, giving them a chance to work in a real studio. It’s also one of the best sounding studios around, and Stu is amazing to work with.”
“As for living in Glasgow, it’s a really good size with lots happening within a small area. The weather is great. It's really peaceful, and has a nice pace. I don't think it matters where you live as long as you have what you need to survive and the opportunity to have a good time and enjoy yourself.”
Despite the stylistic parallels between Spinning Coin and their British indie pop forebears, the band insist that they have more in common with what was happening over in the States, citing the likes of Nirvana, Deerhunter, Dead Kennedys, The Ramones, Butthole Surfers and Deerhoof as bands that have informed them: “Bands like The Pastels have helped us to get our music to a bigger audience, and given us lots of valuable advice. It’s quite hard to know our influences at this point because we often get told that we sound like bands we’ve never heard! I don’t want to lie and say, yes, The Pastels are a big influence on us musically, but as people they are and we have huge respect for them and what they’ve done.”
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Words: Hayley Scott
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