by Mark Anthony Brennan
Victoria’s Spaceport Union describe themselves as a progressive art rock band, but if you think that means they play retro 70’s dinosaur music then you are very mistaken. Their music is, in fact, fresh and contemporary, and they take the term “progressive” in its literal sense.
“To us ‘progressive’ means open,” says Adam Basterfield, vocalist/lead guitarist. “We are adventurous, open to new ideas. We like to challenge our audience, to make our performance a moving, inclusive experience.”
Spaceport Union started out with the nucleus of Caroline Spence, vocalist/rhythm guitar, and Basterfield. With drummer Taylor Charles and original bass player Mike Ross they first released an EP ‘Lark’, followed in 2012 by their full-length debut ‘Flirting with the Queen’, which was produced by Michael Jack (Bono, Jann Arden, Rush).
“He really helped us take our performance-focused music and sculpt it into an album,” says Spence, “without losing the integrity of what we were doing.”
Although the group often embark on wild musical excursions (the song ‘Minnow’ provides an excellent example) they do so from a solid base, even though that base is an amalgam of rock, folk, jazz, and even R&B. The band attributes this eclecticism to the synergy generated by the four individual members.
“The band is a unit of four very capable musicians,” says Basterfield, who is an honours graduate in Jazz Studies from the Victoria Conservatory of Music, “and we all bring our creative influences to the mix.”
Spence and Basterfield are both multi-instrumentalists and they remain the primary writers in the band. However, no one is shut out of the creative process involved in bringing the songs to life.
“It’s a group thing,” states Spence. “There isn’t a set way to create a song. Everyone in the band brings something to it, to find the truth in the song, the soul of it.”
The track ‘Fueled by Consequence’ was named Song of the Year at the 2013 Vancouver Island Music Awards, and the album itself has received positive reviews, particularly in the UK where progressive rock has enjoyed something of a resurgence.
“The reviewers are more into it,” says Spence, commenting on the response they get in England. “They seem to really revel in all of the influences that make up our sound.”
Spaceport Union intends to build on that response as they head into the studio to record their second album (with new bassist Aaron St. Arnault). But as excited as she is about working with producer Michael Jack again, Spence remembers the trepidation she felt when working on the first album.
“It’s kinda hard to be brave and just ‘let it be’,” she says. “I worry whether people are going to like our brand of insanity. But sometimes you just have to let your ‘freak flag’ fly, you know? Just let the song live.”
Spaceport Union are a band that thinks long-term, planning far ahead to bolster their fan base and to keep those fans delighted with their music. It keeps them moving forever forward. To quote the song ‘Fueled by Consequence’:
The consequences get me moving
The repercussions keep me going