By: Brent X Mendoza

Shortly returning to The Roxy Theatre for what’s looking to be a second sold out show, London darlings The Duke Spirit are poised for the U.S. release of their highly anticipated third album, Bruiser. Currently winding down a tour with Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, guitarist Toby Butler and front woman Liela Moss were kind enough to speak with The Roxy from the road about all things Duke Spirit. Here’s what their Blackberrys had to say…

What exactly is The Duke Spirit?

Toby: It’s a band, I think. It’s also a collective of fine perfumery and medicine archivists.

The core of the band met at art school. How did your study of fine art and photography influence the band’s music/art?

Toby: It’s important to be interested in many things. David Lean, Gustav Klimt, Steve Gullick, all have “the duke spirit.”

Legendary producer Flood (U2, NIN, Smashing Pumpkins) recorded the band’s debut record. What did you learn from his process? How did he help shape the band’s early sound?

Toby: We learned that having a scary name is important in rock and roll.

The new album Bruiser was recorded in both L.A. and London. How did the ambience/backdrop of the two cities influence the mood of the record?

Toby: London is our home, so it’s where the ideas brew and the leaves fall; where we add just enough milk. L.A. is where the caffeine kicks in!

Liela, what contemporary female front women do you consider your peers?

Liela: I admire Beth Ditto (The Gossip), Alison Mosshart (The Kills, The Dead Weather), and Karen O (Yeah Yeah Yeahs) for sure. But of course, I still continue to look to older, wiser, and wonderful women such as Patti Smith, Lucinda Williams and Bjork for inspiration.

The band is often categorized/classified as “indie.” Does the term “indie”, as far as a genre, hold any actual meaning? What singular adjective would you use to describe the band?

Toby: The term “indie” means absolutely nothing to me. I don’t really know how it describes the music. As a descriptive term it’s pretty wet… unless it actually refers to Indiana Jones, then I’m actually way more into it.

The band has changed labels several times throughout its career. What lessons have been learned?

Toby: We’ve learned to keep jumping ship. Never let them pin you down! Actually, it’s about finding the right people to dance with; the people that know and like the same moves. I think we’re getting there now.

This is the band’s second time playing The Roxy Theatre. What is it about the club that keeps the band returning?

Toby: It’s like a sweet stray dog that we love to welcome into our home from time to time.
Liela: Well, we had one fabulous show there where the energy was intense and the excitement palpable, so when the Roxy guys asked us back, there was really no reason to turn it down.

KCRW presents The Duke Spirit with special guests Crash Kings and Free Lions on Thursday, Dec 30. Doors open at 8:00 p.m. Tickets are $23.50.