Putting their own spin on modern indie alternative rock is the talented quartet known as The Spins. The Northern New Jersey natives released their latest single “Acid Rain” last month, a song with a classic alternative sound and feel, reminiscent of Pixies, or 1980s R.E.M. Despite the inability to tour, the band has been working particularly hard over the last year, in an attempt to finalize the recording and release of their debut record, Not If, But When. Well, they focused as hard as they ever have on refining their songwriting abilities in an attempt to emphasize their breadth of musical inspirations. As such, the record was recorded over the course of three weeks at Sound Acres Studios with Gary Cioni, with the first single “Fade Away” released in January.
The Spins have built a strong local fanbase the old-fashioned way, releasing singles locally and frequently zigzagging their way around the Northeastern U.S. The band released their debut EP Tank’d in 2017, followed up by the release of their sophomore EP 4 Day Stay in 2019. Now has come the time for their long-awaited full-length Not If, But When, which just dropped on June 26th and a return to full-time touring.
To help spread the word about this impressive new album, we connected with The Spins for a special track-by-track rundown of each song on Not If, But When. Read on and learn about the meanings and inspirations behind the songs on this impressive new display of indie rock.
1. “Fade Away”
“A song about losing someone important to you and regretting your mistakes. This was one of the first songs we wrote on the album. It was one of those songs that just kind of came together almost immediately. (Singer and guitarist) Nick (Coombs) showed us the main riff and chord progression he wrote and we sat down and each did our parts over it in one to two takes on a rough demo and barely changed anything after that. It was one of our favourite tracks that we knew would be on the album almost immediately.”
2. “Alternate Universe”
“This one splits the perspective half-and-half between two parties coming to the realizations that things happen for a reason, and coming to terms with these realizations. This and ‘Sorry Eyes’ started as one song as a progression that (bassist) Phil (Dunphy) wrote until we fleshed it out more and it became two companion songs.”
3. “Sorry Eyes”
“A follow-up song to ‘Alternate Universe’ (these two actually started as one song originally and we broke them into two separate works, but we still play them as one song live). A romanticized look at the past through rose-colored glasses. As you get further from the bad times, sometimes all you remember are the good memories and wish you could go back even though in reality there isn’t anything good to go back to. ‘Sorry Eyes’ is probably the most dynamic song on the album. We really wanted to incorporate and play around with a lot of different musical themes and moods and make a piece that showed our full dynamic range.”
4. “Lucky Cig”
“‘Lucky Cig’ is a more story driven song than any other track on the record. It’s about a feeling most people can probably relate to: having the feeling that you care for someone you’re close to, and the process and journey of working up the courage to confess those feelings and take a chance.”
5. “Acid Rain”
“This one feels more and more relevant as time goes on since we wrote it. This was another one of the first songs we wrote on the record. It speaks to the feeling of being fed up with a corporate greed driven society, and wanting to escape the rat race that society tries to push on us and escape to the peace and beauty of the natural world. We think everyone has felt this at least once in their life.”
“A story about separation, the series of changes you go through when you lose someone, and having to adapt to those feelings and changes. This track was actually recorded as one full take for the record, everything you hear on the recording was done live in real time at once. It started as a full band song originally, and when we were in the studio, Gary recommended reworking one of the tunes we had into an acoustic track to round out the album a little more. This one seemed like the obvious choice. We’ll probably even record the full band version eventually as well and put that out.”
“A both literal and figurative story driven song about both someone who has passed away wanting the best for the people he left behind, and also the person you once were being gone and moving on from what you used to be. It can either be taken literally as a story from the perspective of someone who has passed away, knowing they’re leaving behind a loved one and wanting the best for them when you’re gone. It can also be taken as the perspective of someone who has ended a relationship due to the realization that you are no longer the people you were when it began. You wish them well and want them to know that even though things might be different now, you’ll always care for them and you want them to be happy.”
“A song about realizing every person you meet has an importance and shared experience to your life. Every encounter you have serves a purpose to your growth and perspective, whether the experience is positive or negative at the time. Even toxic experiences can help you with your own personal growth in the end.”
9. “I Love You More”
“Speaks to the importance of a specific moment in time and seeing the nuance in every situation, good or bad. Ultimately, pain is change and growth and that can be whatever you want it to be. This was probably the third or fourth song we wrote on the album that we instantly knew had to be on it.”
10. “Vibe Police”
“A feel good song about not taking life too seriously and surrounding yourself with people who build you up and make you feel good about yourself and encouraging others to do the same. We wrote this song as the more lighthearted and fun song on the album, easy to sing, dance, and vibe to with a hint of several different influences and genres. It’s probably one of our favourites both to play and listen to on the album.”
11. “On The Fence”
“A song about being at a crossroads in your life and having to decide what you want to pursue, your dreams or the pressures of society. It addresses the relatable feelings of being misunderstood by your peers and what people think you are versus who you want to be. This was the very first track we wrote on the record while we were staying at a friends house in Philadelphia on an off day on tour. We started playing around with the main riff from the song for a while, and suddenly we caught a vibe and went downstairs to jam it full band and the whole song came together in about 30 to 40 minutes. We started playing it immediately for the rest of the tour and have played it at pretty much every show since then. It’s always one of our favorites to play live.”