Punk Online

S.P.Q.R – Interview with Pete Harrison

S.P.Q.R – Interview


Pete Harrison

S.P.Q.R is a three piece alt rock/art rock band from Liverpool. They formed during 2015 and things have moved very quickly since, signing to Liverpool label Loner Noise and releasing two singles along the way.

Having been championed by BBC Radio 1, S.P.Q.R have recently supported top punk bands The Membranes and Demob Happy.

We were keen to catch up with the man behind S.P.Q.R, Pete Harrison.


Punk Online (PO): The obvious opening question, what does S.P.Q.R stand for?

Pete: S.P.Q.R stands for Senatus Populusque Romanus, which means The Senate and People Of Rome! It is basically the Roman Empires government, and I thought it was a cool band name. I’m very into Roman History….


PO: Can you give us the background on S.P.Q.R – when & how the band formed?

Pete: SPQR began in 2015 with the idea of making some weird kind of heavy music. It became a lot more listenable than I anticipated because THIS BRAIN JUST WANTS IT TO SOUND NICE. The other members were either very reluctantly persuaded to join me, or discovered on Join My Band! (It still exists, I know!). I got some help from friends to get started, (and this is a huge lesson for any new band…. Listen to people! (You can still do it your own way, just take advice!) then we put a single online and sent it out to any contacts in Liverpool we could scrounge together from Google. The single turned some heads straight away, and the live set, which out of nowhere became the angriest most manic thing ever, turned some more, and it was all flying tally-ho from there!


PO: Although I’m against pigeon holing music into an exact genre, how would you best describe S.P.Q.R’s music?

Pete: I’m going to be a total lame-ass loser now, as there is a lovely quote that answers this question better than I ever could!! Here it is:

‘Shades of early Talking Heads, a splash of Wire, a pinch of Buddy Holly and The Crickets topped off with occasional lashings of Deep Purple, a sprinkling of Black Sabbath and a side order of The Ramones for good measure, whilst simultaneously sounding nothing like any of these artists, or any bands or artists before or since. Confused? You bet.’

Sean Diamond, ZANI


PO: Being a punk from the early 80’s myself, it’s great to see new bands still emerging. What made you get into punk in the first place?

Pete: I’m going to get soppy on you now…. (SOPPY ALERT)… But here it is. And I hope it resonates!

I’ve always felt like a loser. A no-good loser with no skills and nothing to show for myself. In this culture that I have grown up with and still live with, there is no place to feel like you’re no good! It’s like… Feeling blue? Work hard and buy a BMW! (Like my rhyming ad?) Work hard, fight that pain, work hard, you won’t have time to be sad, work hard, no man can be sad when he has a fucking BMW!!! SO…. why I got into Punk? Punk is a bastion of hope and release and comfort from the disingenuous! If we can call punk anything, we can call it honest. The music and the people behind it convey a message that has helped me and many others feel good about themselves. It’s like, you get up on that stage and you be and do what you want to be and do, and if people hate it, fuck them, you’re a punk! If they like it, great! Some people like what you’re doing! The point is (after that huge sop) that Punk encourages you to be who you are and be proud of it, and that’s why I gravitated to it, and then subsequently let it consume my life! I keep myself and my music as bare and honest as I can, and pray it comes through in my songs! … Plus I just really like fast and loud music!


PO: What is your take on the current DIY music scene?

Pete: From what I have experienced and what I have seen, it’s great! As much as I think other areas of music are dying a horrible death, I think it’s never been a better time to be a DIY band. Independent labels are popping up all over, there are endless help sites to get you started and the people involved with DIY music are always so bloody nice! The DIY network is a group of friends helping each other out and it really feels like that when you’re involved. The Liverpool DIY scene that I am familiar with is thriving. So many great DIY bands making really good music and getting somewhere with it using their own skills and talents. Plus we have an amazing DIY promotions company called Yeah Buddy! who have been fighting the good fight since time began! (Shameless Plug) I’m positive about it all as you can probably tell.


PO: What place do you feel alternative & punk music has right now and during the coming years?

Pete: It always flits from being really popular to kind of.. cult popular. Punk and alternative music thrives on being the evil rabid underdog to shiny pop stuff. Although there are now a lot of shiny poppers calling themselves punk, people still recognise the genuine. So, whichever way it goes or has gone, I’m happy!


PO: I’m always curious of audiences at punk gigs. What would you say is the typical S.P.Q.R audience (age, social standing etc)?

Pete: It’s the most mixed bag you can imagine. And the responses always vary! I find that the older audience members appreciate it more. A lot of these youths are like ‘THIS IS ‘ORRIBLE FACKIN ELL’ . A lot of the audience are also fellow musicians helping each other out, which is nice isn’t it!


PO: Are you finding more of today’s ‘youth’ getting into punk or is it mainly the run of the mill type stuff that people still follow?

Pete: Punk will always be there for people who need it. The X-factor stuff has to be there so that one, we can moan about it, and two, so people can see how not to do it! There will always be huge support for the X factor stuff because it’s perfectly packaged and marketed for the general public to very easily consume. But, do you want the general public liking your band, or do you want some cool ass motherfuckers who genuinely want to get into music as a hobby and follow it with feeling and passion to like it? Young people still like punk, they still like heavy music, it’s just not so much in the mainstream, but that’s ok isn’t it?


PO: What subjects do your songs cover? (political etc.)

Pete: This is where I get boring…. My songs are totally self-indulgent and insular. I sing about my feelings because it helps, I act the way I do live because it feels like the straight jacket has been taken off! It’s a lovely feeling! The songs mainly cover feelings of detachment, hopelessness, longing, anger, fear, death and suicide, constriction, self-pity, esteem issues…. ALL THAT DARK STUFF! If you read this and think, yeah I love music like that then GREAT! You’ll love it. I try very hard to keep it honest and ‘classy’. It’s not just moaning I promise.


PO: What’s your take on the state of the country/world at the moment?

Pete: People are people and as long as people are people we will continue to do stupid things and make stupid decisions. I try not to have a say on World affairs because I do not follow or study it so what do I know? That sound like a cop-out? This stuff affects me so I should be interested and have an opinion on it? I’ve tried in the past, but I always come back to that opening sentence! As long as people are people we will continue to do stupid things, so what can we expect! I suppose that pisses me off! But its human nature to be selfish. Everyone is just trying to survive how they see is best to do so.


PO: You’ve supported bands such as The Membranes & Demob Happy. Do you have plans to support more bands to help you get your name out there?

Pete: Yes! Getting on support slots with bands on higher ’tiers’ than your band is not only fun, but it helps you reach a bigger and wider audience. I’ve found so many bands that I now love from seeing them play support shows for other bigger bands I love!


PO: What plans do you have otherwise for gigging?

Pete: UK TOUR!! This year, not too long away. It’s not announced yet but little SPQR will be coming to a city near you! Unless it all falls flat, which sometimes it does!


PO: With two singles already out, are there plans for future releases?

Pete: YES! We are gearing up to release our first EP! It’s 4 tracks of the absolute best I can do at this point in my life. It’s still totally unannounced and needs a lot of preparation before release but… yeah! I’m very excited!


PO: Where would you like to see S.P.Q.R in the future?

Pete: I just want to be able to live off SPQR. I want it to be my job. I want to have the time to focus on song-writing. I want the time to develop my recording and production. I want to play more shows. I want to make people feel good when they listen to my songs. All that stuff!! In 1 year though, I would like to have the release of this fucking EP done, and I want to be happy about it so it stops stressing me out all the time!


Our extreme thanks to Pete for taking out time to talk to us. Check out their music on this page & try to get along to watch them live (I certainly will be doing once the UK tour is announced).

It never ceases to amaze me that there are new bands springing up all the time and we really should do all we can to support them. After all, we’re all one big happy punk family!



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