If you have ever met Christian Mateo Spence, mastermind behind spooky noise rock project Replicas, chances are you’ve probably seen his well edited tear jerker of an appearance on national television in X Factor, and you’ve probably seen his dick too. Spence is a man that doesn’t necessarily live by the rules but a special unwritten set of guidelines consisting of “no rules.” The same idea is portrayed through his writing and playing styles in Replicas.
Recently, Spence and the rest of band have woken from a mere 18 months of hibernation to come back to writing and playing a few select shows in Charlotte as the pre-existing line up. The first show being this Wednesday at Snug Harbor, with Shell as they fill in for the absence of Serfs during their March residency. I sat down with this long time friend of mine and self proclaimed “weed soldier” to discuss music and the band.
What sparked the resurgence of writing and playing shows with Replicas again?
A lot of it was me spending more time at home. Like being alone more and now being married, it’s not really appropriate to be out all the time so I spend more time at the house. But that, and Grant’s death had a lot to do with that. He had a lot of faith in what I was doing in music and it felt like a waste to not be writing music. A lot of what I listened to was a lot of what he had shown me and a lot of the confidence I had in music came from him. When I took a break from music and he passed away it was a wake up call to me. Not playing music felt like my time was being wasted and I felt like I needed to again.
Being the brainchild of Replicas, has the writing process been primarily you or is it a collaborative effort?
It’s still mainly just me and Josh helps a lot. I start working on a song and when it starts sounding like shit I’ll send it to Josh and ask him to mix it or tweak it. And usually every time I get it back from him it sounds way better and I have that many more ideas to do with it. When I’m home writing and recording usually we do it together because we live together and it’s been like that for a while even when we still lived at our parents. He’s my right hand man. From there for the most part we show songs to the group, learn it, and let it go where it goes for the live performance aspect of it.
Where do you draw your inspiration from for writing? Is there any new direction or influence from previous material to now?
My influences are always changing but I have a lot of connections with movies and TV shows and they inspire me in a weird way. I don’t know how they correlate with each other but there is a feeling while watching these and that same feeling is put inside you and it can be explained through music.
Lyrically, I try to take a part of myself or an interest and push it to an extreme and become a kind of character. I could write about my life but at the end of the day I live in South Park, have an OK job, and my parents are fine. My life doesn’t suck but I can only explain the darkest parts of me in that way by pushing it to an extreme. I’m not saying that extreme is me but it acts in a way of getting that part of me out.
What music have you been listening too?
I haven’t updated my Spotify payment so not much recently but ET Anderson and Whatever Brains are cool. I’ve been listening to a lot of stuff on bandcamp mainly so local artists but that’s not something I usually do which sucks but… Other than that the usual stuff like Aphex Twin, I liked Blackstar a lot, Suuns is putting out a new album I’m looking forward to, and also Viet Cong is awesome.
You were once a self proclaimed “weed soldier,” are you still active in the line of duty?
Well, I just decided to take a break to save some money and prices are expensive. My options are dwindling and prices are too high. Also, I have been smoking for so long that I’m worried that if I stop and become sober I’m wondering if I’m become not chill again and go back to church or something. (Days later I received a text from him wanting it to be made clear that he had come out of retirement and became active again in the line of duty)
What 3 words would you use to describe the music you write?
I’d say… A Seasick Nightmare Pit.
Any recent appearances on national television?
(Laughs) Not lately. I had a little bit too much paparazzi for too long.
What do you have in store for the future of Replicas?
I do wanna move soon preferably when my lease runs out this summer. But I would love and fully intend on recording a record with Jeremy Snyder at Touch Me Not Studios. He has been wanting to do it I just need to get confident with these songs and I don’t even know how I wanna do it but I’ll figure it out. I’m not really sure how going into a studio with pre written songs will go because it’s not typically how I do it because normally I write and record at the same time. I never think of the whole picture like that. I have a lot of material and need to figure out what I want to record. There is a lot of music I’ve written with other people and when I was living with Grant that I need to get out and get past that point and not feel so nostalgic about it anymore. I have to put a record out.
What your thoughts on things happening in Charlotte?
If you had asked me a month ago I would have said god took a big dump on Charlotte, but recently it feels like there has been a lot of places opening up to doing shows. Like neighborhood spots, art shows, and the Station is a spot that seems to be doing well. I don’t go out much but I feel like I’ve seen a lot of places that I haven’t heard of that are doing shows now. I would love to never ever get on a stage again and play a show but to play my record as an installment or something in an art gallery. To me that would be my favorite way of playing music live. People just get so bored at shows and I even do too because there is nothing to look at if a band isn’t jumping around or breaking there shit. There needs to be a combination of audio and visual to be fully stimulated otherwise people just start talking and it turns into a big anxiety attack.
Any last words?
Shoutout to Jarrod’s leg (laughs). But I am stoked to be doing things in Charlotte for the time I’m here. I miss the people that are still around doing stuff that I had fun playing with and I hope to we have a good time and I hope everyone has a good time. We do have another show booked in May that I’m very very excited about.