Russian Spy, the new single by Salisbury’s The Neighbourhood Strange, is based on real-life events that hit the headlines last year. Say It With Garage Flowers goes undercover to find out more…
They say truth is stranger than fiction… Last year, something truly strange happened in the neighbourhood of Salisbury-based garage-rockers, the aptly named The Neighbourhood Strange.
A former Russian spy and his daughter were found seriously ill on a bench in the Wiltshire cathedral city – they had been poisoned by a deadly nerve agent called Novichok.
The sinister plot inspired the thrilling – and controversial – title track of the band’s brilliant new EP Russian Spy, which opens with the lines: “Hush my love – I can’t take it any longer. Ten past five and the Novichok is stronger…”
With its groovy organ and a menacing, twangy guitar riff that sounds like it’s been stolen from the soundtrack to some long-lost, ‘60s Cold War film, the song will lodge itself in your brain like a bullet, quicker than you can say, ‘Man from U.N.C.L.E’…
“The song and the riff just came together at one of our rehearsals – we felt the local mood and we subconsciously created it from that,” says the band’s vocalist/ guitarist, Marcus Turner.
“It all felt too close to home – the weekend of the poisoning, our bass player was admitted to hospital. He believes that his accident was orchestrated to get him off the streets when the Novichok appeared…”
The 7in vinyl version of the single has a killer track called Many Secrets on the B-side – it’s been in the band’s live set for a while and has a ‘70s US punk / New Wave feel – the snarling vocals are pure Iggy Pop.
‘Our bass player believes that his accident was orchestrated to get him off the streets when the Novichok appeared…’
If that’s got you wanting to hear even more of The Neighbourhood Strange, you can get a five-track CD EP version of the Russian Spy single, which also includes three other tunes – the classic-sounding, heavy garage-rock of Mary Mary, the psychedelic Walk On Water and the exotic, Middle Eastern-flavoured instrumental, Desert Sand.
“Mary Mary is a song about an archetypal ‘60s girl who you might follow and end up somewhere where you never intended,” says Marcus, mysteriously.
Russian Spy is the band’s third single – so is there an album on the way? “Along with playing gigs and writing new songs, we are hoping to record an LP. A lot of our fans – in fact all of them – have been crying out for one,” says Marcus.
“It would be great if a label would help us with the costs etc, as long as they would also leave us to our own devices. We are really pleased that we have found our spiritual recording space. After experimenting with studios in London and Paris, we’re happiest with the sound from our rehearsal rooms – out here in the wilds of Wiltshire.”
So what are the band’s plans for the rest of 2019? Says Marcus: “We’re promoting the new single, although that’s been interesting, thanks to the response of the local media. Maybe the lyrics are ruffling a few feathers… Rock ‘n’ roll is still being censored.”
Stranger things have happened…
The Russian Spy EP by The Neighbourhood Strange is out now on Strange Recordings: https://theneighbourhoodstrange.bandcamp.com/