Interview with Michael Fenton, Michael Bingham, and Stewart Kuhlo | By Tim Anderl | Photo by Jacki Vitetta
Hot on the heels of their breakout debut EP, Mass Hysteria, and a brief, albeit impactful, tour with American Nightmare, No Warning, and Pissed Jeans, San Francisco’s Spiritual Cramp deliver the Police State EP via Deranged Records.
While their introductory effort—perhaps unintentionally—introduced a broody, goth-leaning side of the band, Police State shows them settling into a headlong trajectory in punk and dub directions. While the band can recognize the difference, it may not be by design.
“The goth thing was not really intentional, at least not an intention of mine,” bassist Michael Fenton says. “Since a few of the songs on Police State were around a bit longer, I think we may have been more comfortable playing them, hence feeling a bit more aggressive. I definitely was trying to get a little more into the dubby aspect of the band on ‘850’ but feel like it was kind of an obvious move rather than a quick left turn.”
“I don’t think [Police State] will leave anyone scratching their heads,” vocalist Michael Bingham adds. “If you listened to the first EP, you could probably guess we’ll be doing some crazy shit in the future. It’s definitely an appendage to the first set of songs.”
Recorded by Grace Coleman at Different Fur Studios in San Francisco, Spiritual Cramp’s second effort continues to tackle existential questions like “Who am I?” and “Do people see me as I see myself?” These are struggles guitarist Stewart Kuhlo says the members of the band all tackle from time to time.
“In a sense, a lot of us in the band come from really different places—be it geographically and/or upbringing—but ultimately, I think there is this shared sense of struggle to just be alive,” Kuhlo says. “Like, every day, questioning who you are, what you’re doing, trying to make sense of the fucked up way of things, trying to care for the people you love.”
“I don’t think it really has to do with age, but rather, just being a person cast into this world without any say and, then, forced to deal with everything that comes with that,” Kuhlo concludes. “It may be a privilege to consider this, but it sure as fuck doesn’t ever feel like it.”