Whether you’ve just heard them for the first time or you’ve followed them all the way from England, it sure is hard to deny that The Duke Spirit wields the power and force of electric sex. And not just in the hey-it’s-four-in-the-morning-I’ll-settle-for-anything way, but the kind that you want to wake up next to and make breakfast for. London’s Duke Spirit seems poised to be the new harbingers of rock n’ roll.
Their new album, Neptune, gives a fresh sound that reminds you what it was like to fall in love with rock n’ roll for the first time. It doesn’t hurt that the blonde bombshell, Leila Moss, is at the front of this new revolution. As their stature has risen in the states, The Duke Spirit evokes the intangibility of rock n’ roll effortlessly. The new album rings with this very intangibility that so many bands in the genre seem to fall short of. Finally, a band hitting its stride.
Unfortunately, bringing their fuzzed-out, garage rock sound stateside has had its share of misfortunes. Working through having their equipment stolen and playing for a jaded American audience across the nation, The Duke Spirit has proven that they are the real deal. Fusing their sound with influences as diverse as shoegaze, garage rock, and soul, the band has crafted a sonic landscape that has created a rabid devotion and cult following throughout the nation. The Duke Spirit let Minute Morning sit down with them recently to get a peek into their unique, yet classic take on rock n’ roll.
The band formed in 2003 with the core trio of: front-woman, Leila Moss; guitarist, Luke Ford; and bassist, Toby Butler. The three began as friends living together, but adversely watching each other play in different bands. Then, one day they decided to join forces to turn “struggle and anxiety” into something tangible and cathartic. They rounded out the line-up with guitarist, Dan Higgins, and drummer, Olly Betts. Feeling “a gang-like vision,” their overdriven sound focused on themes of “desperation, guilt and sexuality.”
America was apparently ready for it. In the years following the release of their debut album, Cuts Across the Land, The Duke Spirit has racked up over 285 performances across the United States. Moss facetiously jokes that the band is working towards building “statues of their stature.”
Feeling that vibe of kids-digging-the-sound, she adds,”…there’s little communities everywhere and they’re all gettin’ off on the same kind of impulses in rock n’ roll music.” Playing to those little communities seems to be at the core of The Duke Spirit’s plan to take over the country. They “never really wanted to be that band that is surrounded by a huge amount of hype,” instead preferring to build it up the old fashioned way.
To try and nail down their sound, Moss tells, “It can sound quite dark and heavy, we try to create something that’s really kind of uplifting and big and exciting sounding out of it.” And exciting it is; the shows played to back Neptune have shown that their hard work is paying off. They have met an audience with more fervor than anything they have seen this side of the pond.
Within seconds of hitting a first chord, fans can be seen swaying along to the hypnotic and high-energy moves of the band. It also doesn’t hurt to have a beautiful woman at the front writhing to every beat of the sexually charged tunes. It’s no surprise that Moss follows the maxim “… ultimately you want to conquer hearts.” Conquer hearts? Try stealing them.
To make their new album, The Duke Spirit holed up at Joshua Tree Studios in the hot desert of southern California with famed producer, Chris Goss, to lay down the eleven most cohesive and rollicking songs of their career. Though hardly a concept album, the new record has an often re-occurring water motif. It also shows a band taking risks and succeeding. The slow plodding blues’ stomp of “Dog Roses” evokes the spark of love at first sight through a smoke and booze stained gaze. “Lassoo” finds the band grabbing love by the throat. It is impossible to not be moved by such confident and sultry lyrics.
The Duke Spirit shows a maturity of bands twice their age. “There hasn’t been a lazy minute, we’re pretty hard on ourselves.” And it shows. “You should ultimately feel set free.” Isn’t that what rock n’ roll is all about?