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Sunday October 26th 2014

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Improv Jam Rock Hits Handlebar

By Brett Hutchins

There comes a time at every music festival where you reach your breaking point. Three days of non-stop music, dancing, and being at the mercy of the weather takes its toll on the human body. I was at that point of utter exhaustion Sunday night of Aura Music Festival in Live Oak, Fla. One high-energy renegade campground set by the psychedelic dance rock band S.P.O.R.E. changed all that. The IN caught up with the band to talk about the difficulties of being in a band that’s still in its toddler stages and the creative way the band reaches current fans and gains new ones.

IN: Where did the S.P.O.R.E. name come from?
S.P.O.R.E.: It stands for Spontaneous Progression of Recurring Energy. I wish we had a more romantic story, but the original three members had been jamming under the name Spore for a while when we found out there used to be a band in the ‘80s with that name. We figured we might as well put more thought into it to avoid any troubles in the future.

IN: How and when did the band come together?
S.P.O.R.E.: Our keyboard, bass and lead guitar players had all been jamming together for years when our drummer came in to an open jam night at a local Jacksonville bar. This all happened last year. It was the first time Chris had met any of us, but we all clicked immediately.

IN: What is the importance of building a fan-base through grassroots measures? I know the bands of the Jacksonville scene are very supportive of one another.
S.P.O.R.E.: Since the beginning, our friends and local family have been our largest supporters and advocates. Jacksonville is a huge city and the reason our fan-base has grown so large and so quickly is all by word of mouth.

IN: How did the guerilla campground set at Aura come about?
S.P.O.R.E.: Doing a set like that is something we’ve wanted to do ever since we all started making music together. Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park is such a special place. We have all been regular attendees of the park for years and love it. There’s something magical about that place that has you craving a return as soon as possible. When we found out that Aura was moving there, we knew it was the time. It was our first time doing it and we plan on doing it again whenever possible.

IN: What was said to get it shut down? I know the crowd was enjoying the hell out of it.
S.P.O.R.E.: Some of the local camping residents weren’t stoked about the volume, plus the noise ordinance had kicked in. The park officials actually came out and were digging what we were doing, so they let us go much longer than we were supposed to.

IN: What are five of the band’s “stranded on a desert island” records?
S.P.O.R.E.: STS9 – “AD Explorata”; Pink Floyd – “Animals”; Particle – “Launchpad”; Lotus – “Germination”; The Grateful Dead – “Europe 72.”

IN: Are there other types of art that inspire you?
S.P.O.R.E.: Absolutely! The way Alex Grey and Salvador Dali both approach their art is a big inspiration to us.

IN: What’s the hardest part of being in a band that’s just getting on its feet?
S.P.O.R.E.: Being broke and getting five people together on the same page. Building a fan-base also takes a lot of patience. We’ve learned that it doesn’t happen overnight.

IN: What about the difficulties being in a band that’s primarily improv-based?
S.P.O.R.E.: The toughest part is getting everyone together and meshing to where we’re able to blend structure with freedom. Without verbal communication, it takes a while to get everyone to a point where you can follow one another.

IN: How much of your sets are improvisational?
S.P.O.R.E.: About 50 percent. There is a structural skeleton to our music and then we improv around that. It’s always fun discovering where the music takes us.

IN: How do you prepare for your sets?
S.P.O.R.E.: Beer, whiskey, and a lot of hanging out and goofing off with each other. The fact that we truly love one another makes our sets that much better. Trust plays a big part in this type of live music.

S.P.O.R.E.
WHEN: 9 p.m. Saturday, April 13
WHERE: The Handlebar, 319 N. Tarragona
COST: $5 limited presale (purchase at Revolver Records); $7 day of show; $2 surcharge for under 21
DETAILS: crypticproductions.com or soundcloud.com/spore904