Spud Cannon hail from Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, NY, and is made up by Meg Matthews (Vocals), Jackson Lewis (Guitar), Lucy Horgan (Bass), Ariana Bowe (Keyboard), and Ben Scharf (Drums). The group formed as complete strangers in 2016 and have since produced two albums, 2017’s Next Time Read the Fine Print and 2018’s Squeeze, which landed at #3 on the North American College Radio top 200. Pulling from a variety of influences and styles, the group just wants to make people dance. We sat down with Spud Cannon before their show Downstairs at Subterranean to talk about their music and life as a touring college band.
Jamie: So you’re all students at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, NY, could you tell me about how you all met?
Jackson Lewis: Well it’s a classic movie meeting story. We’re actually perfect strangers. I met our first drummer in kind of a random way. I walked up to him in the dining hall and then I put a flyer for a bass player -
Lucy Horgan: He put up a flyer, just like a blank sheet of paper that said bass player wanted on it with a phone number, I texted it. I literally didn’t own a bass guitar, but I played upright bass so I bought a bass guitar and started playing with it
Meg Matthews: And then Jackson came to my acapella show - because I’m an acapella girl - yup yup yup yup and yup that’s me! And he saw me soloing so he came up to me and said “Hello! How would you feel about singing in a band?” I thought “Hmmm, that sounds too cool for me,” and that was that.
Ariana Bowe: I had a big crush on our first drummer, and I already knew Lucy so I kind of tagged along with her to hang out with him.
Lucy: And Ben came on this year
Ben Scharf: Meg found me juggling in the quad on my first week of school, and the first thing she asked me before she asked my name was “do you play drums?” And of course the answer was yes.
Meg: Well I asked him “Do you ALSO play drums” because he was juggling and I thought “That’s pretty cool”
Jackson: He is truly a renaissance man.
Jamie: How is it being in college and touring at the same time?
Jackson: It’s brutal
Meg: It’s all about stuffing it in the cracks, you know? Summer and Spring break.
Lucy: It’s our Spring break baby!
Jackson: Yeah and it’s a long one, so we’ve got 14 shows in just about two weeks.
Jamie: You’re used to playing at parties and house shows. How do you bring that energy to these bigger concerts?
Lucy: We dance when we play. We’re gonna have fun no matter what happens.
Jackson: It’s a party.
Ben: Once a party band, always a party band.
Jamie: You just did a session at Audiotree Live earlier today. It seemed like you all had a lot of fun, and it really did feel like a party. Between that and your two upcoming showcases at SXSW, how does it feel to be featured on this bigger national platforms for music?
Lucy: Our set was a ton of fun! We were all really nervous, but being featured like that feels really good.
Jackson: We are not worthy! We’re walking into Audiotree and they say “Hey, thank you so much for being here,” and I’m like “Thank US?” They took such good care of us, and it was just a dream come true.
Meg: At the same time it feels so good and just right. It’s not like we’re walking away thinking “well s--t we f-----d that up,” we did really good with it!
Jamie: I was reading some of the comments on the Audiotree stream on Youtube, so we’re gonna do a quick lightning round with your first impressions on each one. First one: “This is what I live for.”
Jackson: This is what we live for!
Jamie: “Top hat emoji show 1000% music three eighths notes emoji perfect”
Spud Cannon: [In unision] Wow!
Lucy: More eighths than I would have thought.
Jamie: “I love the bass on this one.”
Lucy: Spank you!
Ariana: What a tone queen!
Jamie: Just a quick reminder that these are Youtube comments. This one is “Female vocals suck [sic]”
[Talking over one another]
Jackson: You know what? Screw you, go home! Just sexist.
Meg: Sexist hater.
Lucy: There’s something wrong with your ears. He’s just f-----g jealous that he’s not a f-----g cool woman in a great band!
Jackson: [Fart Noises]
Lucy: Yeah, we’re gonna fart on you!
Jamie: “This band rips.”
Lucy: Rips farts!
Jackson: This person knows what they’re talking about.
Jamie: “Why’s everyone look like they were dressed in the 1970’s?”
Jackson: Because people should dress up and not look like sad boys!
Lucy: It’s cool!
Jamie: Finally, “Groovy.”
Spud Cannon: [In unison] Yeah!
Jackson: That was a good average of good comments, I’m surprised.
Jamie: Could each of you tell me your biggest musical inspiration?
Lucy: The Strokes
Jackson: Andy Gill from Gang of Four
Ben: Chad Smith of the Red Hot Chili Peppers
Ariana: I would definitely say Blondie in terms of stage presence.
Meg: I truly don’t have one, but we were just listening to Paramore so Hayley Williams is definitely up there.
[The first act goes on in the next room]
Jackson: We can go to the hallway downstairs so we can hear each other
[It’s still too loud]
Lucy: Should we go into the men’s room?
[The interview continues in the men’s bathroom]
Jamie: Your second record had a pretty intense production cycle, could you tell me about it?
Jackson: It kind of happened out of necessity, we had to all be in the same place to record it and that’s a rarity. We cut a couple of the tracks at the end of spring.
Meg: And then we cut most of it in just two days in a studio in LA. That was really intense, we were writing lyrics in the studio before recording.
Jamie: Are there any benefits to making an album in such a short period of time?
Meg: The energy is up!
Jackson: And it forces you to make quick decisions. There’s no dilly-dallying and you just sort of have to put it down.
Jamie: What are your favorite Spud Cannon songs?
Lucy: I like “Shadows You Turn To,” it’s a banger and we don’t play it enough.
Ariana: I like “Lucky Ones”
Jackson: I’m a big fan of “Tag”
Meg: And “February” is good and it really means something.
Jamie: I really like “Midnight.”
Jackson: That’s actually the first one we ever wrote.
Meg: I showed up to the first practice which was simply described to me as “jamming” and Jackson is playing the riff that turned into the intro
Ariana: I walked into that practice and Jackson tells me “Play this chord real quick” and then we wrote the song right there.
Jackson: It’s very in the moment like that. Usually we have a little bit going into a song, bare bones. And then we feel it out together. It’s definitely a collaborative process.
Jamie: If you could accomplish just one thing with the music of Spud Cannon, what would it be?
Meg: Dance in your pants!
Jackson: Get us to Japan!
Lucy: We’re gonna be so famous in Japan
Meg: I just want to make people dance.
Ben: We just gotta get the hips moving.
Jackson: In Japan.
Ariana: Strictly Japan.