Music is full of successful pairings that also happen to be spouses. There’s Thurston Moore and Kim Gordon of Sonic Youth fame, Gillian Welch and David Rawlings, Buddy and Julie Miller, and, of course, Jack and Meg White. Okay, so perhaps the latter might not be the best example, but you get the picture. And now there is yet another pairing we can add to the list-the guitar and drum duo of Colleen Coffey and Jason Bays, known best around town simply as The Spires.
While Bays and Coffey may have formed The Spires on something of a whim (Bays figured that a band would be an interesting addition to their lives, which were then dominated by working “boring day jobs”), their music has now well surpassed such humble beginnings. And while the rigors of life can be challenging enough for any couple, throwing a band into the marital mix must surely make things even harder.
“It’s funny, because we seem to compartmentalize things really well,” explained Bays. “When we go and play, we’re not really a couple, we’re in a band. And when we’re at home or doing other things not music-related, we’re not in a band. It doesn’t seem to cross over that much-unless we are talking about something musical. It’s weird. We have different modes; we have relationship mode and we have band mode. And the two don’t really mix.”
Formed in Ventura in 2004, The Spires have become a welcome fixture in the Santa Barbara music scene. And with recent performances at Stateside in support of The Coral Sea’s latest album launch, and a slot playing the Beehouse Fest that took place at Muddy Waters earlier this summer, the duo are certainly staking their claim for our attention. A big part of that claim is inherent in The Spires’ sound, something Bays feels comes from the common musical inclinations the couple shares-along with a healthy dash of individualism.
“We both have similar tastes in a lot of ‘60s pop, like Velvet Underground and The Kinks and that kind of stuff,” offered Bays. “And a lot of old jazz music, too-so we have always been going down that path. But then she likes some stuff that I’m not sure about and I like some stuff that she just does not like. There is that divergence, but generally we’re pretty much straight down the line.”
Another thing that both Bays and Coffey share is the Ventura-based label Beehouse Records. Initially set up to release their own material, the label has since become a sort of hub for both Ventura and Santa Barbara-based music makers. Along with undertakings by The Spires, Beehouse has released recordings by Franklin for Short, Tall Tales, A Silk Hedge, and Plateaux (the musical chariot of former Buffalo Records head John Healy).
“We started Beehouse about four or five years ago just to put out our own records,” Bays confessed. “But then people we knew asked if they could put a record out on the label. At that time it wasn’t really a label, it was just an imprint. We then started putting out more and more records, so we decided to become a real label and got distribution and set up a Web site :”
While Beehouse Records is currently releasing music, Bays sees the enterprise as an umbrella for any number of different creative undertakings. Further down the road he can see Beehouse putting out books, films, and anything else that captures their collective attention. The label may very well be an open-ended affair that could move in any direction, but there is one thing that Bays is certain of:
“It definitely sucks up a lot of my time away from The Spires-I know that!” Bays laughed. “But I would like to devote more time to it. It’s been good for both of us because there are so many people we have become friends with through having a label who have had a big influence on The Spires and the way we do things. It definitely feels good to have a group of people you’re friendly with helping each other out.”
As for the band, Bays and Coffey are in no rush to conquer the world with their music. As well as playing locally, the duo has booked shows in Los Angeles and San Francisco. But rather than being another upwardly mobile band with a business plan and character, they figure that they will let their music do the talking.
“It’s like the tortoise and the hare,” equated Bays. “We’re definitely the tortoise. In 10 years’ time, when others have burned out, we will still be around and will have five more records under our belt, and hopefully at some point, more and more people will have heard about us through osmosis. That’s the way we’re going about it. It seems the less painful route and more natural for us to do things that way.”
The Spires will play Thursday Night Live at the Mercury Lounge (5871 Hollister Ave.) this Thursday, October 16, at 9 p.m. Call 967-0907 or visit myspace.com/mercurylounge for show details.