Editor’s Note: Recently, indie/alternative rock quartet The Spins have released their single entitled “Lucky Cig.” The band states that the song talks about how the individual is mustering up the courage to face his fears and confess his true feelings. “Lucky Cig” definitely showcases the band’s diverse arrangements and a wonderful storytelling vibe. The Vernon, New Jersey band is composed of Nick Coombs on guitars/vocals, Freddy Smith on drums, Jimmy Barr on lead guitar and Phil on bass. The band is releasing singles after their 2019 follow-up to their EP entitled “4 Day Stay.” In this mental health conversation with Madness To Creation, The Spins discuss the impact of their mental health, their educational experiences growing up and “Lucky Cig” and the writing process of the band. Fans can find The Spins on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook
Madness To Creation: You released the single for “Lucky Cig”, LOVE the song. I especially love how it picked up and how it mixes with this 90’s pop/rock with a dash of punk vibe to it. Take us into the writing process of the song.
The Spins: Thank you so much! We really appreciate that. The song originally started as a slower ballad type of song with just that soft finger picked intro. At some point during the writing process Phil did a cool little bass slide similar to the one you hear on the track as the band kicks in and it gave us the idea to rework it into a more upbeat song and incorporate that double time transition half way through. We also wanted to make music that was more energetic in general and felt this was a good opportunity to make something a little different and get both aspects of those slower emotional moments as well as the more upbeat rocking energy. We wanted to incorporate a lot of different sounds, genres, and styles in general on this record so this song kind of fell in perfectly with that idea. We even originally had a little ska/reggae type of breakdown in the middle of the song as well that we ended up taking out for the final recording… but maybe we’ll end up incorporating that again when we play it live.
Madness To Creation: Where do you feel The Spins have grown as a band from the 2019 EP release “4 Day Stay”
The Spins: We definitely grew a lot in our songwriting skills. On this record we were really making an effort to pay more attention to the structure and arrangement of our songs to make them flow more cohesively. We’re striving to make music that you could easily move and groove to, something that keeps your attention, gets your foot tapping, all while still being honest and authentic. We also started trying to get more creative with our song structures and chord choices. Nick got more mature in his lyric writing, Freddy refined his drumming to be more in the pocket and keep consistent grooves, Jimmy honed in on a more melodic approach to his guitar playing, and Phil added a new insight into our chord progressions; he listens to a lot of jazz and other genres of music we didn’t typically listen to. Gary also helped us learn a lot in the studio recording just in regards to how to keep a song interesting and fresh so that we could refine them into something compelling.
Madness To Creation: What is one thing you feel you bring to the table to The Spins to make the band work?
The Spins: We all bring very different musical influences to the table when it comes to writing, but at the same time we are always kind of on the same page when it comes to where the song should go. We all are also pretty laid back and easy going as well which has been a huge help, we don’t really argue much and have an easy time compromising in the rare situations we don’t agree. We pretty much only hang out with each other so being such close friends outside of the band helps keep the writing process simple and tension free so that we’re able to just focus on what inspires us and what feels good. We’ve also all pretty much always been on the same page as far as what our goals for the band are and what it takes to get there and all bring our dedication to our craft and art to the table to collectively keep growing and move forward. We’re all very passionate about music and it’s pretty much our all; so having that commonality has definitely helped keep us on the same page as well.
Madness To Creation: How has the band adjusted promoting themselves through the pandemic?
The Spins: It’s been tricky since we obviously couldn’t play shows, but we focused a lot more on picking up our social media game and creating a lot more video content. Cracking jokes and messing around is a big part of all of our personalities so we started trying to incorporate that more into our promotion and creating a lot of comedy based videos on our Instagram and TikTok. The timing of all this also kind of happened to work out kind of well for us anyway as we already had our studio time booked for June pre-pandemic so we spent a lot of our time through quarantine recording that and then making all the promo content for it (live sessions, music videos, lyric videos etc) and trying to utilize this down time productively to get everything together for the record.
Madness To Creation: Tell us about the first gig of The Spins!
The Spins: Freddy and Nick actually met each other in the Summer of 2016 as lifeguards at Mountain Creek Water Park and one day Nick just kinda came up to him and said “hey i have a show booked i need a band do you wanna play”, and Freddy said “sure”, so we got together with Jimmy on guitar and our friend Luke on bass and started practicing like every day for 2 weeks straight for this show at a place called Doc Fry in Warwick, NY. Leading up to the show we ended up also getting asked to play at Mountain Creek for a bunch of our friends there who were working for the summer as lifeguards from Spain and staying in apartments on the Resorts property. So we went there and set up outside for them and we played one song (“Santeria” by Sublime… obviously) and then got asked by security to shut down because we were too loud. So technically our first show ever got shut down after one song haha. But a couple days later we went and played that show at Doc Fry for a bunch of our friends and had a blast, and after the show we kinda just were hanging out and talking and went “damn that was cool… should we like, keep doing this and be a band?” And we all kinda just went “yeah we should” and then went from there, so that’s kinda also how we started. It was a great memory haha
Madness To Creation: Tell me a teacher that inspired you to be the person that you are today, how did they inspire you?
Freddy: My drum teacher, Karl Latham, definitely had a big impact on me both in my playing and as a person. I studied with him from the time i was about 13 up until mid college at about 18 or 19. Karl immensely advanced my playing with his skill and knowledge. More than that though, he was constantly relaying stories from his personal life and experiences to me and impressing on me what it takes to not only be a successful musician, but to just be successful in life in general. I would have 1 hour lessons with him every week that almost always turned into 2-3 hours of just playing and talking and learning about music and life in general. A lot of my views on life today started with things he told me. He was very hard on me, but also very supportive. He helped push me constantly to be the best I could be.
Phil: I can’t think of a regular teacher, but our producer Gary Cioni taught all of us so much in the studio. Working with him helped us learn a lot about songwriting, how to layer and construct songs, and how to take songs that extra mile to make them more interesting and compelling and make a great record.
Nick: When I was in elementary school I had a music teacher, Mrs Reethe. She was a very strict teacher with high expectations of her students, but she taught me discipline in music. She was the type of teacher who would always call me out when I didn’t practice and that definitely helped me. She also taught me how to read music and gave me a good early foundation in music.
Jimmy: I had a teacher named Mr. Kalousy who supervised the only music program we had in our highschool that me and Nick started. He used to bring his guitar into school and talk to the few kids in our school who played instruments about music. He was a cool guy and definitely cared about trying to help advance kids’ musical interests.
Madness To Creation: Most difficult and easiest subject for you in school and why?
Phil: Math was always my best subject since I’m very methodical and I like exact answers. My worst subject was writing, specifically story writing was always very hard for me.
Freddy: History was probably my best subject, I’ve always found it interesting and kind of just read it as a story and it would always kind of just stick with me. Even today I still love watching documentaries and learning about stuff that’s happened in the past and why things are the way they are today. My worst subject was probably language classes, I wasn’t the best at keeping up with my homework and studying when I was in school so it was definitely harder to catch up and retain a whole new language when i wasn’t keeping up with it haha.
Jimmy: Math was my worst subject, it was just harder for me to retain and understand. English was probably my best because I was always good at writing, especially creative writing.
Nick: Music was definitely always my best class, for obvious reasons. Geometry was my worst subject, it was harder to make sense of and difficult to keep track of the formulas.
Madness To Creation: Tell me about a time that was difficult for you and you rose to the occasion and realized everything was going to be okay?
Phil: I’m a type 1 diabetic, and for a while when I was younger, I always just wished I never had to deal with it. As I got older, I realized it actually made me eat better and made me who I am today, which I am very proud of. Coming to terms with that was a big thing that made me realize everything will be okay if you have a good outlook on life.
Madness To Creation: What are some routines or regiments you do to keep your mental health in check?
Phil: I Make sure to breathe. Sometimes I start to overthink and make up scenarios in my head, when in reality none of that has happened, so I just take a step back, take a deep breath, and remind myself to not freak out over something that won’t matter in a week.
Freddy: I like to just play the drums when I’m feeling down. The physical aspect of it definitely helps me destress, and also just the love of playing music and simply doing something I enjoy helps me stay level headed and centered. I also like to take walks outside as much as possible, spending time outside in the sun is a huge necessity for humans in my opinion.
Jimmy: I like to work out, physical activity is a big one for me. I like to go on bike rides, lift weights, do pull ups, anything that helps me clear my head and get moving.
Nick: Music and writing have always been my outlet. Writing just helps me express my thoughts and feelings and get them out there.
Madness To Creation: Advice you have for the reader that is struggling.
The Spins: If you’re struggling, don’t be afraid to ask for help! You’re not alone in your struggles, everyone is going through their own journey and the best asset we have is each other. Telling others what you’re going through can be therapeutic in itself, and listening to other people’s similar struggles can help you realize you’re not in this alone. We need to stick together and help each other to make it through this tough life. Also, don’t be afraid to pursue what makes you happy. Society has a lot of pressure on what it thinks you should be or what you should do, but the only way you can truly be at peace and be happy is by being yourself and doing what truly makes you happy.
Madness To Creation: Biggest thing you learned about yourself through the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Spins: I think the biggest thing we all learned about ourselves through the pandemic is our appreciation for human relationships and experiences. Being locked inside for this past year has given us a whole new appreciation for live performances, hanging out with friends and meeting people, and going out and experiencing things. You know what they say, you don’t know what you have until it’s gone.
It also made us realize life can be unfair a lot of times, it’s tough having to get your career put on hold, but at the same time like with all things in life, there’s nothing you can really do about it except keep going and make the best out your situation. Life throws a lot of curve balls at you and it can be tough to not be upset about them at times. It’s definitely helped us get better at trying to find the positive in situations.
And there you have it! On April 23rd, The Spins will be releasing their single “Vibe Police”, which you can pre-save on Spotify. Check out their early 2021 release of “Fade Away” via Spotify below: