Band Spotlight: August Spies

In our latest Band Spotlight, we chat to Hell Is For Heroes vocalist Justin Schlosberg about his music as August Spies, as well as the legacy of his other musical […]

In our latest Band Spotlight, we chat to Hell Is For Heroes vocalist Justin Schlosberg about his music as August Spies, as well as the legacy of his other musical output.

Hey Justin, how are you today? What are you up to?

Pretty good thanks—just put the kids down. I’ve been hiking in the Welsh countryside trying to spend some time in clean air and without signal.   

Talk to us about the development of August Spies, and what it means to you?

I never really thought of myself as a songwriter to be honest, and I’ve been out the music game for a long time. But for whatever reason the melodies invaded my brain and I slowly became overwhelmed with the need to get them out. So I guess you could call it  a standard mid-life crisis! But I wanted to write real love songs—passionate, obsessive, awkward.

How do you define success these days?

Survival! One of the most surreal things about having kids is that suddenly nothing seems more important than bread and butter, keeping my head above water and keeping my everyday shit together (as much as I still struggle with that). It’s very humbling in that way. As for this project, I consider it a huge success just getting the record made. I really had no idea what I was doing and no one to tell me what to do. I literally made it up as I went along.

What advice would you give to emerging artists who are inspired by you, and your work?

I think my best advice would be don’t take any advice from someone like me! Other than that, care only about the little things. It’s so easy to be seduced by show business. Whether you’re a complete unknown or megastar there’s a constant pull to ‘make it’ or to stay ‘relevant’ or to be ‘recognised’. I don’t think anyone is immune to it but it’s deeply corrupting and distracting and you just have to constantly ask yourself, ‘why does this matter?’

What would you say your biggest challenge is as a solo artist now?

Probably doing shows. In the band it was easy to think of myself as a performer because I could hide to some extent behind the noise. But these songs are bare bones and scarily intimate. It would be a completely different live experience to the band, but that’s also what makes it exciting. I don’t mind failing horribly, as long as it’s some kind of beautiful disaster.

How do you feel about the response to ‘This Is How It Ends’ so far?

Considering I had literally no expectations it’s been awesome! It meant enough to me just to get the record ‘out there’, but the fact that people have been super nice about it and it seems to be finding an audience is a huge bonus.

How do you feel about the legacy of HIFH at this point?

Pretty chuffed to be honest. When we did a little tour last year year we were genuinely surprised that people still remembered us. Not only that, somehow we’d managed to clock up more fans doing absolutely nothing for the best part of 10 years than when we did touring relentlessly in the 10 years before that! I think people value the fact that we never flogged it and that we played every show like it was our last, and that we managed to capture that spirit on record. Shameless and careless.  

Dom Smith

About Dom Smith