Can You Feel It? Do You Believe It?; An interview with Mike Bingham of Spiritual Cramp

Danger, mystery and youthful restlessness have long been vital elements of rock ‘n roll. Spiritual Cramp’s Mass Hysteria offers all these things in spades. Spiritual Cramp communicates a state of unease in a seemingly at ease system, shaking things up in a way that only truly impactful art can. Their sound borrows from the past, echoes of late ’70s and early ’80s working-class rock and punk, and functions on the upbeat showcasing very bright guitars yet generating darker vocal rhythms and darker patterning.

Blowing up the Bay Area, Spiritual Cramp has quickly turned heads for their wild and unforgettable live shows up and down California’s coast — landing them a winter tour with American Nightmare and Pissed Jeans. 

Ghettoblaster recently caught up with Spiritual Cramp’s Mike Bingham to discuss the Bay Area scene, punk’s spirit, and how Spiritual Cramp acclimate.

I was recently talking to a friend from Oakland who said that the hardcore and punk scenes in the Bay Area is exploding. He said that not only are the bands amazing, but they are pissed. What is going on there?

Yeah, I definitely agree with this. The Bay Area is buzzing pretty hard right now. There’s a lot going on in all corners of the Bay for sure. Kids are for sure pissed off. They’re being pushed out of their houses so rich yuppies can move in with their puffy jackets and baby strollers. Nobody has health insurance and people are barely making rent. There’s a lot to be angry about. That being said – fools are creating art that’s really meaningful because of it. Strange dichotomy.

How does Spiritual Cramp integrate with this renewed punk spirit or scene?

I think we’re a small piece of the whole picture. There are tons of people out here doing really important things. It’s cool people are responding well our contribution and being supportive of us though. We’re just hyped our friends are doing cool shit and we can be a part of that conversation.

One of the strange things about our particular local punk scene is that anyone with a national or international draw or audience is shunned or ignored locally. Do you fear that this might happen with your local draw?

Maybe to some fickle asshole that could be true, but if you are the type of person who refuses to connect with something because its resonating with people on a larger scale – I don’t really care if you listen to my band or not. Also – I don’t think a band can really make a national/international impact without garnering support on a local level first aside from a select few bands. In my opinion, the support of our peers is really important. Maybe the most? You can’t do anything cool alone.

Were you hoping that Mass Hysteria would be a shock to punk’s system? 

I don’t think we are trying to shock anyone. Rather, inspire people to make something unique? Maybe help some strange kid from who knows where feel understood in a hard time. Just help people relate to a world that can be unrelatable.

What is it about this record that you’re most proud of?

I personally enjoyed creating the art and putting thought into something that would make sense as the aesthetic piece of puzzle when listening to the EP. I’m a huge fan of looking at the whole package of a record while listening to it. I also like singing in a band, it’s really fun.

What are you hoping the impact of Mass Hysteria will be?

We had no expectation. We surely created it with intention, but there was no expectation. We just wanted to make something that we felt needed to be in the world. I don’t think any of us thought it would take us on tour with Turnstile/TSSF, American Nightmare or get us a two page spread in Thrasher though. So people paying attention is just a cool positive reaction. Were happy its happening.

Have you begun writing the next record? 

We have another EP already recorded, so we’re sorting out how that’s going to be released at the moment. Going to start digging into writing a full-length record this spring/summer for sure though.

What can we expect to stay the same and what may change?

As far as this next EP goes, it sounds and looks pretty similar to Mass Hysteria. Recorded pretty quickly after Mass Hysteria, it’s definitely in the same vein. Maybe a little more pushed on the reggae/world music spectrum but that’s just one song. Who knows. Not sure about the LP. Waiting on Mike Fenton (bass player) to write that shit as we kinda leave all the music up to him.

You’ll be heading out on tour with American Nightmare in February. How did this opportunity come about?

I think a friend sent our demo to Cold Cave while they were on tour with The Jesus and March Chain a little bit back and they enjoyed it. I think our name popped up when they were figuring out who they wanted to be on the AN gigs and Wes and Matt (Pike) came to our gig in Los Angeles with TSSF/Turnstile and said what’s up. They were hella nice and asked if we wanted to go on tour so obviously, we said yeah. The rest is history right?

What are you hoping the lasting impact of Spiritual Cramp is when people discover it 10 and 10 years from now?

I hope that we can all look back and know that everything we put out was done with consideration and intent and that we navigated this gross music industry with a good sense of morality and played as many good shows as possible. Hopefully, we meet a bunch of new friends and can help people we meet along the way the same way people have been helping us. Pass on the kindness and help people connect to something.

(See Spiritual Cramp live:

02/16 – Philadelphia, PA – Union Transfer #
02/17 – New York, NY – Market Hotel #
02/18 – Boston, MA – Brighton Music Hall #
02/21 – Montreal, Quebec, Canda – Fafounes ^
02/22 – Toronto, Ontario, Canada – Velvet ^
02/23 – Pittsburgh, PA – Rex Theatre ^
02/24 – Detroit, MI – Magic Stick ^
02/25 – Chicago, IL – Bottom Lounge ^
03/9 – San Diego, CA – Irenic %
03/10 – Los Angeles, CA – Echoplex %
03/11 – Berkeley, CA – 924 Gilman Street %
# – w/ American Nightmare, Pissed Jeans and Protestor 
^ – w/ American Nightmare and No Warning
% – w/ American Nightmare, Torso and Fireburn)