Not only does Chordz Coffee Shop ooze with musical paraphernalia decor and hard rock tunes, but also attracts customers of similar enthusiasms. Indie rock trio Msprs is made up of vocalist and guitarist Paul Condron-Dorey, bassist Luke Le Clercq, and drummer Donovan Barett. Over the clatter of pans and hissing coffee machines, the band discuss their 2018 release of their self-titled EP, show their comradery for fellow Jersey musicians, dream of headlining Glastonbury, and undergoing a name change.
Donovan: (Previously ‘Brighter Black’.) ‘Msprs’ just sounded a bit more professional, we’ve always been more keen on one word band names as it makes it more snappy. I first heard about the word mispers from working in children’s services, and a misper is just a missing person and I thought, ‘I’ll use someone else’s misfortune for my own personal benefit!’
Paul: In terms of the logo, I approached my sister who’s an artist called ‘Lines of Thought’ and does loads of abstract faces. I asked her if she wanted to come up with a logo for our band, and I thought it was great. The guys liked it so we made some t-shirts with it on and that didn’t go so well, think we sold about 7, 5 of which were my family!
A few of your songs on your current EP are close to 5 minutes long. How do you go about your song writing process?
Donovan: Paul, that’s the quickest way to sum it up. He does really well with creating melodies and structure which me and Luke will sometimes mess around with too, as well as our own parts.
Luke: He gets the ball rolling, he’ll go away and write the songs, get some lyrics and bring it to us. We’ll add on to it until we find something decent.
Donovan: We’ve had a couple of ideas that have lead into different things. I had this riff, messed around with that which led into ‘The Other Side;’ our songs sound completely different to what we started with. It’s a lot of pressure on Paul but it keeps us within a certain theme and stamp on our music.
Donovan: We’re quite keen now to move more towards radio play so we’ve been talking about 3 minute songs with something quite poppy and catchy.
Luke: We just jam along and before we know it we’re like ‘damn we’ve done another 5 minute long song.’
Luke: We’re currently labelling everything as a demo just to get people to listen to our music first, instead of badly producing an album, sticking it out there, and have people laugh at us. At least with a demo we’ve got that safety net of ‘ah okay they’re just starting out, not thinking they’re too big for their boots.’ Eventually we’d like to find a decent studio over here and record an album, or potentially a couple of EP’s.
Donovan: Alt-J’s been quite a big one for me, the way that the drums aren’t very conventional and I like the way Tom Green uses all of the parts of a drum kit. I’ve used that in a few of our songs as well, particularly for pre-choruses to try and mix it up a bit.
Paul: Most of our influences come from Foals, Alt-J, Radiohead, Bear’s Den. In some of the melodies we’ve definitely taken inspiration from bands like Keane, who I grew up listening to, obviously having an impact on me. The three of us like really different styles of music, Donny’s into rock music and I know Luke’s big into punk so it helps to give us that raw sound.
Luke: I definitely think with all of us having different interests in music helps us to bring in different inspirations to create our own unique sound. There’s countless bands over here that don’t really stand out as they have that same rocky sound you see from all the other bands that tend to stick to covers rather than finding their own sound. I take all my inspiration from bassists that like to stick out against the grain. I hate playing just root notes, they get boring so quickly, so I’ve always wanted to play bass that’s going to have its own place in a song that’s going to be fun to play. Growing up listening to punk bands bass is always a prominent part of a song, they’re very quick and bouncing around the fret board, I’ve always found that quite cool. Punk bands like Rise Against, Anti-Flag, anything that’s got a cool bass line I’ll listen to it.
Luke: (Horse and Hound) One of the bands over here, Hot Juice, decided to do a ‘Hot Juice presents...’ where they showcase all the local talent on the island. The guys here are mates with the singer and they offered us the gig. The first time we played there was an amazing response from the crowd, boosted our confidence massively.
Paul: Mainly because we’re a trio we find it quite hard to pick cover songs based off arrangements, so we need to find songs that are generally stripped back, take it from there and make it our own. We’ll go for a more poppy song that people will know.
Rituals and Habits
Donovan: I always like to say, ‘I wish we had one more week.’ Every single gig we’ve ever played I think I’ve used that line.
Luke: I just disassociate and try not to panic too much before getting on stage and shaking my bass around. To be fair, I always play with a brand new pick that’s not been played with before, it’s a weird thing of mine.
Paul: I’ll have 5 G&T’s.
Donovan: Paul has this thing where if we ever get famous, he’s only going to have blue M&M’s in his dressing room.
Recommended Jersey Bands
Luke: Always going to be great with Hot Juice, they’ve been amazing and taken us under their wing and given us a few gigs.
Donovan: I don’t think there’s many more bands that work harder than them to be fair, sometimes three gigs in one weekend.
Luke: The energy they put into their music is decent, with recorded songs on Spotify is quite impressive. Midriff is another really good band, even though they’re still really young they’re bringing out some great songs and the harmonies are so good, the ones to watch.
Luke: Another band we’ve talked about working with more is Hot Plastic, same with Joe Young and the Bandits who I’ve been watching since I was old enough to get into pubs. Their crowds are always very enthusiastic so I can’t fault them.
Paul: Vagus at The Weekender were really tight with a good sound. There’s 5 or 6 of them in the band, bit psychedelic and rocky. Worth seeing if they ever do a gig in Jersey.
Paul: We like to say we’re going to headline Glastonbury. At the moment I just want to write and perform music that we genuinely really love. If we get to go on a tour around the UK that’d be great, but ultimately it’ll just be producing something that we’re really proud of.
Luke: We’ve put a lot of time and effort in over the years so if something came from that I wouldn’t complain. Playing the O2 definitely, not necessarily headlining it but maybe opening for someone would be fun. Maybe someone like Alt-J would be a decent one because it’s a band we all listen to and are fans of.
Donovan: A couple of people have said Paul’s vocals sound similar to Bombay Bicycle Club.
Luke: Twenty One Pilots would be a fun one with such a great crowd, they choose some very interesting bands to open up for them as they’ve just had The Regrettes open for them, a female feminist punk band which is completely away from their music so they’d be a decent shout.
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