Off the Record took place in Manchester, just over a week ago. During the day, the event hosted a number of music conferences, bringing the music industry to the public and opening a discussion about the current musical climate. By night, the event took over several of the Northern Quarters most prestigious independent venues and filled them with some of the best emerging talent.

  While there, I managed to catch the ever-intense set of Avalanche party, a five-piece punk rock group who have an explosively feral and powerful sound. I also saw a band called Wooze, a new discovery of mine, the band were really different, dressed all in yellow using electronic sounds to create something unlike I’ve ever heard before.

  Every band I spoke to talked about the value of Off the Record and what it does for artists and the music community. I spoke to SPQR before they performed their set at Band on the Wall.

  The band are based in Liverpool and were picked to perform at Off the Record by Everything Everything. The group are made up of singer Peter, bassist Jack and drummer Bex, who is one of the first female drummers I’ve spoke to. Earlier in the day, during the conference the particularly brain-sparking topic of women in music was covered. The PRS foundation were discussing their Keychange initiative, pledging a 50/50 gender split on festival line-ups by 2022. It was great to see Off the Record represent women in music, with pretty much every discussion involving at least one woman, some of them multiple, it made music feel like a gender equal playing field.

I asked Bex for her insight to this: “There’s a lot more women and girls around, which is great, but it’s still massively male dominated… we play a lot of gigs and I’m the only girl on the line-up, which is a bit sad really, but I think it’s definitely changing” 

The band also brought up other issues in the current music scene, talking about an article they had read about mental health in music, they said: “It’s almost like a big advertisement saying be in a band, be a musician and have a mental breakdown, it’s almost guaranteed… people see it as being rock and roll.” The group spoke of the concerns, saying that its so difficult to be a musician with money worries, late nights and usually another job too, Bex went on to say: “In everything in life mental health has become a hot topic… I just worry it’s become a bit of a buzz word.”

  The band have been very busy recently, having recently been signed to Modern Sky UK and recording an EP in London, they have also recently been given “the go ahead to do an album,”said frontman Peter, who writes most if their tracks, “I’m absolutely loving this opportunity to write an album… I’m going to write an album. The band struggled to describe their sound, saying they were different to the typically heavy bands, with shouting vocals, they were usually put on a line up with, Bex thinks their “music is very vocally melodic, which I think is quite different from a lot of bands we’ve been put with in terms of genre at the moment… although I think we can be quite heavy in places”

SPQR are different to lots of other bands who might be defined by the same genre, they’re a group to look out for. They told us they have plans for the future but have “no idea” whats going to happen and when, but I am eager to hear their upcoming EP and hopefully soon, an album!

Liv X

Photo by Olivia Kenny

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