The Duke Spirit: ‘Pasty Indie Nerds’ Hit the Desert For ‘Neptune’


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“We’ve never been the sort of band that follows fashions and goes along with the pack. It’s more about following our own style, doing our own thing.”

So says Luke Ford, guitarist for Brit-rock five-piece The Duke Spirit. To be fair, I thought they looked perfectly stylish when I spoke to them a couple of weeks back, on the very day their second album, Neptune, was released: four dapper gents and their rather stunning frontwoman, Leila Moss.

Of course, Ford meant they eschew musical fashion, and as Moss told me, that sometimes puts The Duke Spirit at odds with the oh-so-trendy UK pop scene — as you can hear in the clip above.

Still, The Duke Spirit feel like fans on both sides of the Atlantic are coming around, with the help of what Leila calls the “richer sound” of their sophomore album, the nautically themed Neptune. It was written in soggy ol’ maritime England, but was recorded in — of all places — the desert.

More on their Joshua Tree recording sessions — and the My Bloody Valentine reunion talk — after the jump.

The spot was Cali’s Rancho de la Luna, home of the so-called “desert rock” sound, and the man behind the boards was the godfather of said sound, Chris Goss (Queens of the Stone Age, Kyuss). So how did the Brits fare out in the parched setting? According to Ford, “To drop us into that environment was only ever gonna be inspiring, and pretty weird, and just turn things on its head. I mean, it’s a magical place, and it’s also kind of scary.”

That includes animal-scary. “Getting five pasty white English indie nerds to remember to check their boots before putting them on to make sure there’s no scorpions in there…I mean it was the antithesis of everything we’ve ever known.”

I brought up those oft-repeated comparisons between his band and such iconic artists as Spiritualized, The Jesus & Mary Chain, and My Bloody Valentine. Guitarist Dan Higgins touched on this year’s much touted return of Irish icons MBV, which he’s eager as anyone to see — though with reservations.

“I don’t know whether the genius of Kevin Shields is something that has happened, or is still happening,” he said. “That’s the most diplomatic answer I can give. Who knows.”