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An Interview With Bay Area Hardcore Band SPY

Coming off of their successful first Europe tour, a highly anticipated EP release and a coveted opening slot on Ceremony’s upcoming fall United States tour, SPY has been pretty busy to say the least. In October 2021, the five piece released the epic ten minute EP, Habitual Offender. Being their second release as a band, it really encapsulates their collaborative growth as artists, specifically from a lyrical perspective. They never have shied away from an opportunity to use music as means to express their political and social beliefs. It’s captivating and full of contagious energy, and if you’re attending Act Like You Know Festival this upcoming November, you’ll get to experience it. I got to catch up with SPY and see what they’ve been up to this summer.

SPY by Gabe Becerra, @gabethepigeon
SPY by Gabe Becerra, @gabethepigeon

Can you take a second to introduce the band? Who is Spy?

Spy is myself (Peter) on vocals, Cody and Drew on guitars, Thomas on bass, and Derek on drums.

We hear you’re on your first Europe/UK tour at the moment! That’s very exciting! How is the tour going so far?

Europe was incredible, we were treated really well over there. Most people were very kind to us, and there was a lot of enthusiasm and excitement for our band. Can’t wait to go back.

Did you guys have a fanbase in Europe/UK prior to the tour? I always think it’s admirable going to new places and exploring how the crowds react to your music. How have the shows been so far? What differs from the crowds in the United States?

Going into our first European tour I tried to have no expectations, I was just excited to be in Europe on tour, playing shows, something none of us had ever done before. But just based on people messaging us, online merch sales, etc. I knew that there were at least *some* people in Europe who were into us beforehand. When we got to the UK/Europe I realized there are way more people out there that are into Spy than I had thought. Shows were incredible for the most part, we had some really memorable packed out, sold out shows that I had not expected at all. The shows are definitely a little different out there than in the U.S. – although sometimes the energy can be comparable, overall shows in the U.S. might pop off a little harder, might get a little more intense. As far as hospitality and enthusiasm for the band goes though, the Europeans might have us beat.

Your latest EP, Habitual Offender, is following up SPY’s first EP, “Service Weapon,” which has been well received and praised in the scene. In what ways do you think the band has grown with this new release? Did you want to get any specific themes or messages across with this EP?

The band has changed a lot over these 2 and a half short years. The songs on “Service Weapon” were put together pretty quickly by myself in December 2019 – initially I just wanted to have a fun side project to do vocals in, I never expected it to get to this level in a million years. “Habitual Offender” was written much more collaboratively once we had established a full band and realized there was real interest out there in this band. Thematically I think “Habitual Offender” is a continuation of the themes present on “Service Weapon” – I feel like the lyrics speak for themselves, so I’ll leave it at that!

At its core, punk music is an emotional escape, and in most cases, bringing attention or light to current societal issues or even personal moments, that are often relatable to many. From listening to Habitual Offender, it seems SPY doesn’t shy away from political issues. Did you always intend to have these specific undertones heard throughout your music?

Yes, it was a part of the mindset and attitude I wanted to bring to this project from the start. To me, one of the most appealing elements of hardcore punk has always been the overt presentation of something the artist or lyricist sees as ‘fucked up’, for lack of a better term. It’s sort of like you’re setting a theme on a platter for the audience and yelling “hey look at this, this is fucked!”. There are different ways of doing this of course, but there’s something about that hardcore punk presentation of a theme and attitude about it that I have always loved. It’s something I wanted to bring to the table with this band too. Another part of it is that if I’m going to be yelling into a microphone about something, it’s gotta be something that really upsets me right? That’s where the intensity comes from and there’s no other way to do it, so to me it was always clear what the themes of this band were going to be.

What are some of the main drives and key factors, when it comes to SPY creating music? How do you want to be portrayed to the average listener?

We just want to make great music and have fun doing so. As far as the average listener goes, you either fuck with it or you don’t but at least you can’t say we don’t put love into what we do.

SPY reigns from the Bay Area, a mecca for the hardcore and punk scene, as well as all genres of music. I was lucky enough to live here for a few years in my early 20s and able to attend some legendary shows at 924 Gilman. How has the Bay Area influenced your music?

I think I’ve said this in other interviews before, but I can’t understate the importance of growing up in (and returning to) The Bay to the development of this band. I started this band shortly after moving back to The Bay after a few years of living in Vancouver, and I’m convinced there’s no chance this band gets to where it is now if I had started it anywhere else besides The Bay. These last few years of the Bay Area scene receiving well-deserved nationwide and international attention have been incredible and it’s an honor to be a small part of that.

I understand that some of you are in other bands or have been in other bands before as well. How has that experience helped/influenced your time in SPY?

Everybody in this band has been playing in bands for years, some of us going back well over a decade. Speaking just for myself, there’s no way I ever could have done this band in this way if I hadn’t had all the past experiences playing in bands under my belt. It took me a long time to realize what was and wasn’t working about the other bands I’ve been in, and it took me a long time to figure out how I actually want to write music. So I’d say those experiences are absolutely imperative to the success of this band, they’re the foundation upon which this band has been built.

Sound and Fury Fest is coming up at the end of July. What an incredible lineup to be a part of (and well deserved). Do you have any artists you’re excited to share the stage with?

I’m just so thankful to even get to play at all, it’s kind of a dream to be able to play this fest that I’ve held in high regard for so many years. So I’m excited just to be there alongside every other band that’s playing.

Triple B Records is quite the impressive label to be signed to! How long have you guys been with the label? How has the experience been so far?

Sam (Triple B man) is awesome, he hit us up around August 2021 and then presented the idea of doing a split with Maniac, everything has been great working with him!

As one of the final questions, Act Like You Know fest happens this November and SPY is headlining! What can we expect from this SPY live show? What other performances are you looking forward to seeing at the festival?

Like always we’re going to bring as much energy to it as we can and hope that the crowd reciprocates. Hyped to be in Oklahoma, never been there before! Excited to see a lot of bands I’ve never seen before, the lineup for the fest has a lot of exciting new bands representing a lot of different styles and we’re grateful to be a part of it!

Is there anything else you would like to add?

Shout out to all the people who support us and show us love.

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