It’s not every day you’re subject to music produced next to a toilet.

Spring King are a pop punk band who pride themselves on tracks produced in a makeshift bathroom-turned-studio. The lavatory and sink are still there, but it’s not been a hindrance. If anything, it’s convinced thousands that producing music beside your toilet is a prerequisite to some form of burgeoning success.

And that’s not an exaggeration. The four-piece band from Manchester have generated a reputation as being one of the most thrilling live acts in the United Kingdom – repute furthered by playing at CMJ Music Marathon, Latitude and South by Southwest festivals.

Let’s not forget extensive airplay from Tom Robinson’s BBC Introducing, Radio 1’s Huw Stephens, plus more significantly, Apple’s DJ Zane Lowe, who launched the Apple Beats 1 radio station with the band’s single, ‘City’. It’s certainly history in the making for the unsigned band.

Spring King's Tarek Musa. Photo by Khalil Musa.

Spring King’s Tarek Musa. Photo by Khalil Musa.

Who said you needed an expensive studio?

“I got congratulated in a text yesterday when I was in the studio,” says Tarek Musa, Spring King’s drummer, vocalist, songwriter and brainchild. “I didn’t even know what I was being congratulated for, but then I went online and everything went completely haywire. Out of all the unsigned bands, for Zane to choose us is amazing. It was a dream come true.”

Spring King is the result of professional producer Tarek’s musical side-project, which he described as an escape from other projects. Through the joint efforts with Peter Darlington, James Green and Andy Morton, the project took an unexpected rise in popularity.

“I’m really happy because that particular tune was recorded in my bedroom,” says Tarek, talking about ‘City’. “For me, that’s all it’s about. I’m always backing other artists when they get on with recording and have faith in themselves. They don’t need a studio. It’s the tune that communicates, so it’s not necessarily how you record it, to a level anyway.”

When exploring their early efforts, it’s really not surprising that Spring King received such a glowing reputation for a relatively new band. They used to live record and master within a day. Tarek says that they’d usually end on a surplus of around 50 tracks – intensity that likely improved their musicianship tenfold with all the constant trial and error.

The band are known for their raw pop and contagious melodies with layers of low fidelity. But the much admired element of Spring King’s music is Tarek’s song writing. “When he [Zane Lowe] introduced us on Apple’s Beats 1, he said the lyrics helped relieve tension and stressful moments with Apple,” says Tarek. “That’s usually what people seem to value us for, our lyrics.”

Spring King released their first EP, They’re Coming After You, in April. “We usually write love songs, but recently it’s more philosophical,” he says. “The last song on our EP talked about how people see existence and how love can pull you through anything.”

Tarek adds that he is inspired by personal experiences as they tend to capture his imagination. But the mainstay of his song writing ability comes from another realm. “Weirdly, Spring King started around the same time as I started listening to The Beach Boys,” says Tarek. “There’s so much depth to Brian Wilson’s song writing. It’s beyond any songwriter I know.

“Their later records were really complex and inspire me to write songs. I’m obsessed with them. Someone in Texas said that we sounded like The Ramones hanging out with Brian Wilson, which I’ll definitely take if that comparison is still going.”

It’s clear that the band are going through an eventful period. They’ve even received a somewhat surreal nomination in the 2015 Billboard Teen Choice Awards. But their personal lives haven’t changed too much. “We’re still getting paid the same fees as when we started. But we’re always blown away by the whole thing.”

“I keep saying this, but the amount of floors we sleep on… We fit three amps, a drum kit, four of us and a driver in this tiny family car. We would have given up a long time ago if it was for the money, that’s for sure. It takes us away from our day jobs, really.

“Pete, he woke up at five this morning to work at a bakery. James works in an insurance company. We do it because we love it, so whoever turns up to our gigs, whether ten people or a hundred people, it makes the whole experience for us.”

Spring King will make their debut at Leeds Festival this month. The band have tasted the clamorous festival atmosphere, but Tarek believes it’ll appease a lifelong dream. “I’ve always played in a band so it’s been a dream to play in it from a young age. This is the first time I’m going and it’s amazing. We’re really grateful we’ve been considered for the line-up,” he says.

There’s no doubt that the festival environment elicits excitement, and a byproduct of that adrenaline will inevitably be the excretion of bodily fluids in many different ways. It soon became very clear why Spring King’s studio is in close proximity to the toilet.

“Towards the last song you’ll probably see me gagging, a dry heave,” admits Tarek. “We supported an American band called Fidlar the other day. They were side stage for the whole of our set and as soon as we finished I threw up right next to their feet.

“My stomach doesn’t know what to do with all the adrenaline usually. I spend about 30 minutes per gig recovering. If Pete was here right now he’d back me up on this. It’s crazy.”

“You should come and check us out,” he says with a chuckle.

I’m not sure whether he meant the band or watching him vomit, but they’re both unmissable.

Background image: Aye Aye Captain by Vincent James.

Samar Maguire