If you live in the region and you’re yet to come across Spooky Jefferson’s Ideal Lunchbox – perhaps the strangest name in pop music since The West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band – then it’s very likely that you sit in a darkened room, with the lights out, when the rest of us are out trick or treating.
I can make this assumption safe in the knowledge that, for the past six or so years, it’s fair to say that nobody in the North East has played more Halloween shows or taken the celebration more seriously than the idyllic Lunchbox’s (Alan Robson and his Night owls notwithstanding).
Out to shock in their gothic/cartoon/horror outfits, the Spooker’s have built a strong reputation (whether at Halloween or any other night of the year) not only for scaring the be-Jesus out of children, but also in the way they stand for something entirely different to shock pioneers Alice Cooper and Marilyn Manson. The most obvious differences being the style of music they make, and their cultural influences.
Whilst Mr School’s out and Mr Disposable Teens have more often than not used a T-Rex style of glam boogie as the spoonful of sugar for their messages of youth centred angst, alienation and rebellion, the Jefferson’s sound has been created through blending alternative guitar riffs with an upbeat, heavily instrumented, brass-led, Ska/ Soul-rebel style. It’s a style that not only leads to a difference in sound but also content: out go the cartoon, teenage, themes of Cooper and Manson and in come Ska-inspired lyrics focusing on society’s inability to provide for its outcasts and disenfranchised. Subversive in their existence, the messages can be found if you’re prepared to dig a little deeper and put the work in.
As often does with bands inspired by Ska, the influence of two-tone reaches further than just the Spooker’s sound and style. A history of self-releasing records offers an insight into the bands’ DIY attitude of creating and distributing their own music, whilst a live performance style bursting with relentless, focused, energy is a fitting tribute to their two-tone inspirations and bands such as The Specials or Madness.
But a tribute show this is certainly not, and the band use Goth and cartoon outfits and props to transport themselves into a Tim-Burton inspired world through the use of Robert Smith style make-up, pyrotechnics and character performances. If you managed to see either of their recent performances at the Globe or Lindisfarne Festival then you’ll be aware that this is a band who take their performance seriously, but not themselves.
All of which brings us nicely back to Halloween and the bands’ reputation for extravagant special events which often burst with extra pyrotechnics and an extra layer of make-up, making these shows possibly the best time to enjoy the band.
As unconventional in their sound as they are at choosing a name, the Spookers take shock-rock in a new and unusual way. If you’ve not seen them try imagining a band that plays with the ferociousness of the Midnight Runners, lark about like Madness and look like the cast of Edward Scissorhands. Scared? You should be. Going to see them? You need to.
You can check Spooky Jefferson’s Ideal Lunchbox out on Saturday 28th October when they play their Halloween Show at the Angel, Durham.
So in love are the band with Halloween that they’ve been allowed to carry on their celebration by playing a ‘Private Halloween’ show at the Prohibition bar in Gateshead on Sunday 29th October.