Bands On Their Most Embarrassing Spinal Tap Moments

As the great David St. Hubbins once said, there’s a fine line between stupid and clever. This Is Spinal Tap, Rob Reiner’s cult mockumentary about a fading rock band, walked that thin line expertly, pulling off dumb gags about musicians with “armadillos in their trousers” while smartly parodying the pampered lives of rock stars, cranking the satire up to eleven. It’s still every bit as loved over three decades later, especially among artists, who each have their own embarrassing tales of Tap-style disaster onstage and on the road. We asked some NME favourites for theirs. Warning: will make you cringe.

Thomas Mars, Phoenix
“The thing about Spinal Tap is that it’s not a film. It’s real life for musicians. That’s what makes it so great. We had a Spinal Tap moment once early in our career playing a show near a airport when our amps kept picking up all the air traffic control radio frequencies. It was terrible – our guitars kept on getting interrupted by landing instructions meant for Boeing 737s.”

Jono, Jagwar Ma
“We had this idea for a back drop for our live show. The idea came from when we were in France recording the album. There were these French hardcore ravers that would combine all their speakers and amplifiers together to erect these giant soundsystems much like the classic dub and dancehall soundsystem parties in Jamaica. So I really wanted to have this Jamaican style soundsystem behind me on stage and for the speakers to be hooked up to my drum machines and synths. We commissioned this guy to pull it together, sent him some reference images etc. The triumphant debut of the soundsystem was to be at our last London headline show at the Scala. These guys wheel in this little piece of wood with a bunch of little Sony hi-fi speakers glued to it and a couple of little led strips that didn’t work. I couldn’t help but think to myself that if we had a couple of midgets dressed up as rastas dancing around the miniature soundsystem then the speaker stack might look a little bigger.”


Mark Hoppus, Blink 182
“Hello Cleveland! We’ve got lost around venues trying in vain for ten minutes to find the stage. Several times. The best part of that movie is the fact that it rings completely true.”

Stuart Murdoch, Belle & Sebastian
“I have a cordless microphone and during the song ‘If You Find Yourself Caught In Love’ – we used to play it all the time – there was a instrumental passage and I would disappear off the stage with my microphone. The idea was that I would pop back somewhere in the auditorium. Like we were playing Sydney Opera House I would run in the back steps and suddenly at the end of the instrumental they would put a spotlight on me and I would be on the third balcony, or something, and fans would be like ‘oh you’re standing right there’… I went the wrong way and I ended up in a shopping centre during the gig with my mic. That was a bit, ‘Hello Cleveland.'”

Elizabeth Sankey, Summer Camp
“I once shouted at people I thought were the support band for eating our easter eggs backstage. It turned out these people weren’t the support band, they fans who had snuck backstage because they liked us and wanted to give us a mix CD. It was the worst backtracking of my life: ‘No, I know you didn’t eat them, I was more talking about ‘you’ as in “society” and that in a way we’re all guilty of eating… eggs.'”,AAAAABumiUU~,CmZu1qzq0Nydx8DqfQUoDJv2_kpwyWWq&bctid=3284576305001


David Maclean, Django Django
“I remember was that we were playing a weird fashion party with Egyptian Hip-Hop in Dalston and we’d literally just signed our record deal and just been out for dinner with the head of the label. He came down to see us live and we decided to wear these sort of Tudor smocks and tights for a laugh. Needless to say we looked like total bells. The label boss looked horrified. He could hardly watch. What made it worse was that we were too pissed to play and Vinny didn’t have the balls – literally – to wear tights (why am I berating him for that?) so he wore jogging bottoms. Under his Tudor smock. Twats.”

Joe Mount, Metronomy
“The reason why that film was so brilliant is because everything, all of those moments, all of those people exist. Tour mangers with their cricket bats, that kind of thing… turning up to the wrong airport, it’s all happened to us.”

Natasha Khan, Bat For Lashes
”I was looking back over some hilarious early pictures of me and my general get-up was quite Spinal Tap in an embarrassing glam way. So multiple outfits have been Spinal Tap moments. We did play at Coachella or some festival but there was a giant storm and the backdrop was swinging around so much it almost knocked over equipment. We gradually had to lower it down throughout the show without people noticing.”