In this La Vida Liverpool exclusive we take you on an intergalactic journey through the history of Space — the iconic Scouse band who experienced a meteoric rise to fame in the 90s. With hits such as Neighbourhood and Female Of The Species, they cemented themselves as one of the most successful Scouse bands of all time.
Following the huge success of their first two albums, Spiders and Tin Planet, it’s been a rollercoaster ride these past 20 years or so, but Space are BACK with a BIG BANG! Here we chat to Tommy and Phil about the history of Space and their new lease of life with their new album, Music For Pleasure Music For Pain, and a forthcoming UK tour of Spiders and Tin Planet!
LVL: First of all guys, what’s going on with Space at the moment? It seems you’ve been pretty busy?
Tommy: We’ve been gigging loads and I just love playing gigs! We’ve just released our latest album, Music For Pleasure Music For Pain, and that’s signed to Hug Records that our manager Mark runs with his eldest, Jorgie. We’ve also nearly finished recording our next album too so yeah we’ve been pretty busy.
Phil: Yeah, we always get restless when we don’t play so we like to play as many gigs as possible and Tommy never stops writing. From 24th February we’ll be doing some anniversary gigs as part of a UK Tour where we play the Spiders and Tin Planet albums in one gig. The Liverpool gig is at the O2 Academy on 1st April.
LVL: So, what’s the new album all about for those who haven’t heard it yet?
Tommy: It’s a real mix of genres. It’s got hip hop influences, bits of punk, queasy listening, Sinatra vibes, some James Bond style stuff. Some Beastie Boys influence. Some of it is deep and dark and some observational about real life stuff.
LVL: Ok, so taking it right back, what was it like in the early days there back in the 90s and how did you get your big break?
Tommy: We were originally The Australians and when that broke up we became Space and just played everywhere locally — places like The Pickett. Our manager Mark first saw us as The Australians but we were unmanageable then, fighting on stage and stuff, but when he came back and saw us as Space he took us on. The rest is history.
LVL: You guys experienced a meteoric rise to fame. Do you think it’s difficult for Scouse bands always being compared to The Beatles and what advice would you give to young up and coming local bands trying to break through?
Tommy: What can you say about The Beatles that hasn’t already been said? They were amazing obviously but they’ve become more of a tourist attraction. No-ones ever going to get as big as that so there’s no point trying to do it.
Phil: Yeah I agree. My best advice to bands is do is do your own thing and never give up. Don’t try to jump on the bandwagon and if you love what you produce someone else will too.
LVL: How do you deal with a rise to fame like that and it must be a lot of pressure following up a debut album that does so well?
Tommy: It was mad you know. The furthest I’d been was North Wales in a caravan and the next thing we’re gigging internationally, on Top Of The Pops, meeting Tom Jones and Mike Myers. It’s true that it was tough being pressured to write another Female Of The Species when everything I do is organic and a one off but fortunately we had some more big hits and Tin Planet was a big follow up album to Spiders.
LVL: There’s a question I’ve always wanted to ask Tommy. That big hit Neighbourhood from the debut Spiders album — was that about your childhood growing up in Liverpool?
Tommy: Obviously there wasn’t a serial killer, for example, but there was someone I thought was a serial killer. I used to think the vicar was a bit dodgy. Basically, it’s about my imagination — watching what’s going on. Even in school I’d daydream looking out the window and using my imagination. One of my favourite bands is The Kinks and I love storytelling in music.
LVL: I’ve been a massive fan of Space from the age of 10 so I feel a little starstruck interviewing you guys. Were there any moments at festivals etc. where you felt like that?
Phil: The biggest one for me was Iggy Pop. We were in Rome once and I got to go around The Vatican with Iggy Pop — it was odd! My wife was ripping him and he was dead sound! It was a strange experience but it wouldn’t have happened without the band!
LVL: You must have some crazy stories from over the years!
Phil: I was a roadie originally before becoming the bass guitarist so I’ve seen it all! There are too many to tell but one of my favourites was at a festival when Jamie came out in a towel and Marilyn Manson appeared. Jamie was ginger so Marilyn Manson was like ‘I’m ginger too’ and exposed himself to us all then chased Jamie. He was wearing big platform shoes and it was mad to watch!
LVL: Are there any gigs that stand out over the years?
Phil: When we were The Drellas we played the closing down gig at Quiggin’s in Liverpool and it went off its head! It was a mad night with a lot of Liverpool bands including punk band the SS and everyone trashed the gaff as it was getting torn apart by developers anyway. It was mental! Obviously playing V Festival and Glastonbury was amazing!
Tommy: For me playing at Anfield for a Hillsborough Memorial gig was very special. All different football fans united together for one thing.
LVL: So you guys split up then came back together. What was it that brought the band together again?
Tommy: Our drummer Andy left the band as he didn’t seem interested in all the success — he just wanted to play for the love of it. He was the loveliest fella in the world and when he passed away in 2009 we all met up at the funeral. We all went to the pub afterwards and talked about getting back together again in his name, which we did in 2011.
LVL: So fast forward again today with so much going on — I guess this is somewhat a renaissance for Space?
Tommy: Yeah definitely — we’ve got more energy now playing live and we’re more crazy than ever. The new album is doing great and 2023 will be a big year. We’re especially looking forward to the Space and Tin Planet tour — that’ll be a lot of fun!