'Binary' is the new single from DIY-punk-pop quartet The Spook School, takenTry To Be Hopeful, out on now via Fortuna POP! A triumphant queer pop song, exploring gender and identity, "Binary" bursts with noisy energy and a maddeningly catchy tune that you just want to sing over and over, blending together influences ranging from Buzzcocks, to T-Rex and the noisier end of C86.
The Spook School are Anna Cory (bass and vocals), Adam Todd (guitar and vocals), Nye Todd (guitar and vocals) and Niall McCamley (drums). A band in the most communal sense of the word, the songwriting is split between all four members, giving a different perspective and energy to each song. Since forming in 2012 they've become increasingly involved with the DIY queer punk scene, taking inspiration from the passionate, like-minded people they've met along the way, and from bands such as Martha, Joanna Gruesome, Trust Fund and Tuff Love.
The original recording of the track didn't quite match the excitement of their live show, so the band headed back into the studio to record a new version, the one you hear now, which also served to demonstrate the change in Nye's voice during the making of the record. As Nye undertook his own personal journey by embracing his trans identity and starting testosterone therapy his voice had become considerably lower! As he explains: 'It was a bit nerve-wracking and frustrating to not be able to sing things that I'd been able to sing easily before, but it sounds pretty great!'
The song itself about about questioning gender norms, something that singer and guitarist Nye Todd's experience of coming out as being trans has forced him to think about. As he explains, 'I could never understand gender when trying to think about it as a choice between men'and women'. What was it that separates those two types of people? When I discovered the idea of gender as something a lot messier and more nuanced than two categories, something that could be defined according to how people actually wanted to identify and place themselves, things made a lot more sense. I'm so proud and fortunate to know quite a few amazing people who openly identify as non-binary, genderqueer or other non-binary identities.' Celebrating life beyond the false choice between 'bowties or high heels', this song has quickly become a live favourite, prompting massed choruses of the 'I am bigger than a hexadecimal' line.
Try To Be Hopeful follows The Spook School's critically acclaimed debut album Dress Up (2013), which received plaudits from the Guardian, Uncut and Loud and Quiet. The Spook School have since seen their music used on TV, having recorded the theme tune for BBC Three series 'Badults' (Adam, Anna & Niall all have sidelines in the world of comedy), and have also toured the US, where they became the subject of a Rolling Stone documentary and met Laura Jane Grace of Against Me!
Try To Be Hopeful is the sound of a band growing up, embracing their identities, and taking charge at the world. But amidst the fight for a place in society for everyone, there's still time for love, friendship, and fun. With their bold, fizzy and electrifying anthems, The Spook School are the shot of optimism we've been hoping for.
"Edinburgh's Spook School are a band who have to exist... the quartet's bright indie-pop - sometimes breezily cheerful,
"Emotionally literate and politically conscious... The Spook School deliver the goods with a good-humoured, no frills approach." The New Internationalist 4*s