Mobile nav search icon Mobile nav toggle icon Mobile nav close icon
The Pleasure Dome

The Pleasure Dome on their important song ‘Suicide’

Culture

The Pleasure Dome's frontman Bobby Spender on the real stories behind the remarkable new song 'Suicide' that may just save some lives.

Now this is something to get excited about: a band who kick the world up the arse and save all its people.

Bristol’s The Pleasure Dome are, on the surface of it, the latest in a long line of tremendous British punk rock cult oddballs. You know, the strand of intelligent psychopaths which encompasses McClusky, Therapy, Gang of Four, Sleaford Mods, Pulled Apart By Horses. Which means, with The Pleasure Dome you get funny and properly good fare like ‘Your Fucking Smile’, which is easily our tune of the summer, with one of our favourite videos.

Yet with them, you also get something else, a vulnerability that is all their own and which is bringing serious word-of-mouth of the kind demanded by true punk poets. The main punk poet in this case is Bobby Spender, vocalist and songwriter (and video editor – turns out he put together the above video using old Soviet propaganda clips) who is a lovely man willing to put it all out there on stage and on record: yes he can scream with the best of them, but he can also open his heart in devastating style.

None more so than on the track, ‘Suicide’, which is one of the stand-out moments on their excellent new EP, ‘Liminal Space’. It is a deeply personal song by Bobby, so personal in fact that we want to present you our conversations about the track in full below, to preserve how emotional it was, and to avoid any trite journalistic summation. What we will say, is that this is a song that will touch a lot of people, and it may even save lives.

Enjoy our chat with Bobby and get listening to this band:

The Pleasure Dome

Can you tell us about The Pleasure Dome?

Yeah, we’ve been together for five years this summer. It started out as just me messing around. I’ve always played in bands, but I’d never been a singer. I wrote these songs for my own enjoyment, and my girlfriend at the time let slip to my friend, Loz, who’s a bass guitarist, about these songs as I was kind of too scared to talk to him about it. But he was like, “How could you write these songs and not tell me? Let’s start a band.”

Then we got some friends in and the line-up kind of changed over the years, and we recorded our debut album, ‘Equinox’, last year.

What’s your approach to songwriting?

It’s quite varied. I’ve always got a journal on the go that I’m writing in, but there’s no particular way any songs sort of happen.

It’s usually me trying to work out my own thoughts, or emotions. The really important part of songwriting comes when you’re using an experience to inform your art. I think that’s when it stops just being an entertainment piece, and has meaning to it, you know?

Can we talk about the track ‘Suicide’ on your new EP, which I imagine comes from that kind of place?

Yeah, absolutely. I’ve myself suffered over the years with my mental health.

I first attempted suicide when I was nine, which is quite shocking to people. I had some things happen in my childhood, and I wasn’t particularly happy. Fortunately, my mum, who’s amazing, and has been amazing all through my life, she caught me in the middle of trying to do it. If it wasn’t for her…she has been there through all these moments.

I’ve made attempts at four different times in my life. At nine, again at 18, then when I was 24. And then once again when I was 27.

But that’s the point where it changed because I learned a lot about it. I realised it was like an escapism thing. And I’ve just been fortunate enough to have either not been very good at it, and sort of botched it or been disturbed.

When I was in a relationship with my ex and she’d attempted suicide a couple of times – one of the times ended up in hospital, and it was really bad – it was the first time that I had ever been around someone that had understood it. The way that she’d explain it was the same. I just had never felt that before. You always talk to people about it, and you never feel that anyone really understands you, whereas when I talked about it with her, she had that awareness.

The song ‘Suicide’ is about the conversation that we had when she first talked about how she tried to kill herself, and how suicidal thoughts are something that she deals with.

I’d never been on the receiving end of someone I loved, talking about wanting to die. ‘Suicide’ is about that.

I know when you’re in those really dark places, people say reach out to someone or speak. But when you feel like that, you’ve gone past those moments.

When I spoke to my ex I realised the only thing I could really say to her is, ‘Well, if you’re ever in those moments, just hold on.’

And I think that’s the sentiment of the song, the acknowledgement that things can be really shit, but hold on.

It started out as a poem, and then the music came a little later. But yeah it’s the one on the record with an important message.

It’s admirable that you are being so open about it in the song…

Well, I feel I should talk about the things that are difficult in my life so that people have a message to maybe lean on, especially when it comes to suicidal thoughts. You don’t necessarily really want to speak to anyone about anything, but maybe in a song, you hear something, and maybe it helps. It’s like a public service announcement about this conversation.

I think you’re absolutely right. In those moments it’s very hard to be reached, but certainly music can do it more than anything else. Especially when you’re not preachy about it.

It can’t be preachy. And the thing to realise is, people can say that they love you, and I’m fortunate that I’ve got family that love me, and friends that love me, but in those moments it doesn’t really mean anything like.

I think there’s this sort of misconception. It’s like, well, if you’ve got someone that says they love you then you’ll be all right. Well, no, because when you’ve made that decision, you’re very locked into that decision and you can’t really see outside of it.

You can be in a house with people and still feel alone. I think talking helps, but I think when you’re in those moments it’s almost gone beyond that. That’s what the son is about. Just holding on.

Pleasure Dome

What role does music have for you and your mental health? Does it help?

I get these kind of questions where people ask about the catharsis of these songs and honestly, the band doesn’t really help. It helps as a vehicle to promote a message or an idea but in terms of a cathartic release, it doesn’t really help with that.

Because if I write a song about something that’s sad, I have to then sing that every night on tour. You go back to that moment and you feel it, and you put that emotion into your performance.

You learn more and you gain more of an insight into your own thoughts sometimes, but I wouldn’t say it necessarily helps.

The message can be a positive one in the songs for the audience, which is why I make these choices about writing about things like drug addiction or depression, suicide. ButI wouldn’t say necessarily helps.

What are you ambitions for the band? Do you have goals?

Yeah definitely, but we’ve been playing a lot of shows with all these tours over the past couple of years, and I feel its been at the detriment of the music, the schedule has impacted how we sound. Our first album was super rushed, we did it in six days, just coming off this UK and European tour.

We just didn’t have a break, and haven’t had any time to breathe. And I think it’s at a point now where it’s like, we’ve done the toilet tours, we’ve done the support tours, now we need to not have a crazy schedule and just make a really solid record.

I really want to just focus on that and then take that on the road rather than trying to juggle both. It’s time to concentrate on one thing at a time.

Who’s your all-time musical hero?

My favourite band is The Beatles. I’m a nerd. Paul’s my favourite Beatle. But I also like John.

I like the way they dealt with their trauma, like both of them losing their mums when they were really young, and having really hard upbringings emotionally. Even though this happened to the, they’re quite poppy. I think the reason they’re able to be so poppy is because they’ve had such awful things happen to them, they’re able to have fun.

I think when people that have been through traumas, they can find it easier to look on the bright side of things because they’ve been to some really dark place, do you know what I mean?

I think we always get called a punk band, but I honestly try to sound like The Beatles with every song I write, but it never quite comes out like that.

And just finally, what do you hope people will get from the EP?

Well, hope. I think it’s quite a hopeful record.

Songs like ‘The Duke – Part one’ and ‘…Part-two’, are about looking where you are in your life and getting older and thinking, what am I doing?

And a song like ‘Suicide’ is just something that gives a bit of a hopeful message to someone who knows someone who’s suffered suicidal thoughts, or to someone that’s thinking about those things themselves.

But mainly it’s about hope.

‘Liminal Space’ EP by The Pleasure Dome is out now on Hound Gawd! Records

Scott Lavene

Read next

Scott Lavene: “I’m good at m...

Culture 1 week ago

Love Fame Tragedy

Read next

Love Fame Tragedy “This is so raw ...

Culture 1 month ago

Related articles


Culture

Jamie Kenna“I’m not playing this cool” R...

Martin Robinson

2 days ago

Culture

Celwyn JonesCelyn Jones: “I wanted to make Traumatic Bra...

Martin Robinson

1 week ago

Culture

Scott LaveneScott Lavene: “I’m good at making ligh...

Martin Robinson

1 week ago

Culture

Love Fame TragedyLove Fame Tragedy “This is so raw it’s...

Martin Robinson

1 month ago

Culture

David CarlyleDavid Carlyle: “Dinosaur is Barbie to Baby R...

Martin Robinson

1 month ago

Culture

Big SpecialBig Special: “The album theme is depression ...

Martin Robinson

1 month ago

Culture

Baby ReindeerBaby Reindeer is the best – and most challen...

Martin Robinson

1 month ago

Culture

Jing Lusi‘To the Asian actors, this is a moment of pr...

Martin Robinson

2 months ago

Culture

ényí OkoronkwoÉnyì Okoronkwo on Renegade Nell: ‘I am ama...

Martin Robinson

2 months ago

Culture

Shogun reviewShogun: like Game of Thrones meet The Sopranos

Martin Robinson

2 months ago