Spairs' Jonn Penney talks about new album, Ned's Atomic Dustbin

Spairs' debut 'Spills' drops in May
Posted at 1:05 PM, Apr 20, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-20 16:05:27-04

(KERO) — There's a United Kingdom band releasing a new album that music fans should get excited about: Spairs.

For those that remember Ned's Atomic Dustbin, the two members in Spairs will be familiar: Jonn Penney and Dan Worton.

Ned's singer Penney and drummer Worton have created quite a buzz among fans after the first two singles for "Spills" with "False Alarm" and "Run Into a Standstill." "Spills" is set to drop May 22nd on Good Deeds Music.

Penney explains how the band got started.

"Well, a pandemic came along and I got locked in like everyone else did. And 20 years had passed since I had written any material. And that had been in a room with the rest of my band mates in Ned's. We always used to write songs in a room together on the spot. A kind of magic would happen or not happen as the case would be and that's where all of the Ned's songs came from. My experience in songwriting was that experience exclusively.

"In lockdown, in kind of forced me to have a reboot because I'm not a full time musician these days, I earn money in other ways. So ordinary life and the necessary other careers had taken things over. Lockdown kind of rebooted and reminded me that I actually quite like writing songs and I quite like being a musician.

"So I looked at my acoustic guitar, which I can't play I'm absolutely rubbish at instruments, and I thought I might pick this up and have a plink at it. Not to write songs but to entertain myself a bit."

Penney started playing around with a four-track app putting together snippets of chord progressions and the like before "layering them up." He says he was just doing it for his own entertainment. After a couple of months, Penney said he reached out to a couple of guys from Ned's Atomic Dustbin asking "Does anyone fancy writing some songs?"

"Dan came back and said 'yes,' " explains Penney.

What's really unique is that Wharton plays all the instruments on the album.

"Dan had been hidden in plain sight the whole time," said Penney. "Dan is the guy in the Ned's who can play anything. He's the multi-instrumentalist. Just because he's the drummer in Ned's doesn't mean that he's not everything else that he is... I sent Dan some stuff and within days he turned little ideas into instrumentals for full songs. And then I was inspired again by music I was listening to instead of being inspired by music I was playing myself."

Spairs has some similarities to Ned's but fans shouldn't expect to be exactly the same. The band doesn't have the same level of distorted guitars yet the multi-layered instrumentation is there as well as Penney's familiar voice.

The good news is Penney says Spairs have a bunch of songs that could turn into another album. There's also the possibility he says of an extended tour depending on how well their UK shows go. That could mean the possibility of a U.S. tour, which is something Ned's fans haven't witnessed since the mid-1990's.

The bad news is it doesn't seem like a new Ned's Atomic Dustbin album is likely.

"I wish I could be a bit more positive about that one," said Penney. "The magic with Ned's songwriting was those five guys in a room together with time. We've got the five guys but we don't have the time because we're not a full time band. And we've lived 30 years since and some of us are quite busy with other stuff with careers and whatever. So to be able to release yourself into a rehearsal room for five or six hours to write songs is just at the moment an impossibility."

One of the interesting stories is how Ned's ended up with two bass players (a true hallmark to their unique sound).

"The shortened version was I invited one to rehearse with me," explains Penney. " I got a little bit drunk and in the meantime forgot that invitation. I went to a show saw another bass player with an entirely different style of playing, Alex [Griffin]. And his band was splitting up and I said 'Whoa, you fancy having a jam together?'

"Then the first Ned's rehearsal, there were two guys with bass guitars and it was like 'Oh, sorry guys.' Dan, the drummer, came along and played drums just as a favor because he really wanted to play bass. So there were three bass players in the room. And Rat [the guitarist] came and I'd only seen Rat play bass. I'd never seen him play guitar and he'd started to learn to play guitar. So we had four bass players in the room at the first Ned's rehearsal.

"Luckily, Dan was willing to stay on the drums. And luckily, Rat learned to play the guitar well. But the two bass players Matt [Cheslin] and Alex, Mat played traditional bass from the very start. So it wasn't like adapting to having another band member, it was just learning it on the spot... It was pretty organic and natural, really."

Sometimes great things happen by chance.


Spairs' Jonn Penney talks about new album, Ned's Atomic Dustbin with 23ABC