Spoon Indian Classics: We realized that as a band we sound better at gigs

Hi Alex, what are you doing in London?

With Brit (Daniel, vocalist Spoon – note. author) we have some acoustic gigs here.

Looks like the cogs of the music industry are starting to turn again after a long hiatus!

It’s like that. All the musicians around me are on tour now.

Has everything returned to the old way or have the previous two years been irreversibly marked by functioning on the music scene?

I am not sure. At first, there were concerns about how the restrictions would change the whole musical environment, but at least from my perspective, everything is starting to return to the so-called normal. I feel the excitement from both parties – both the bands and the fans. The wait for the concert-meeting was very long.

Covid has made significant inroads on Lucifer’s new album On the Sofa. Is it true that the album was 70-80% finished before the pandemic?

Exactly. It was an effort to record a new record “live” as much as possible. We realized that as a band we sounded best at gigs, so we wanted to project our strength into the recording. We created four, five months like this, then the lockdown came and all the work on the album stopped. I live in Los Angeles and always have to move to Austin for a while to record. It logically didn’t work.

Many bands have been recording their new music remotely from their homes during the pandemic. Didn’t you think about finishing a new album this way?

We shot something that way. This is how, for example, the last song of the album was created, the title track Lucifer On the Sofa. The whole process was led by producer Dave Fridmann from New York, I worked in Los Angeles, the other band members trained in Austin. But for the rest of the album, we wanted to keep the mood with which we entered the recording. This means that we enjoyed the atmosphere of a city that lives normally, and not that people with respirators meet everywhere and are afraid to get closer to each other.

Is it true that during the hiatus new songs were created and appeared on the record? If yes, which ones?

This is precisely the case of the title Lucifer On the Sofa, which captures the depressing state where society was stuck at home between four walls without the possibility of social interaction. In my opinion, it’s one of the best lyrics Britt has ever written. It accurately captures the confusion of the unknown that covid has brought to us, coupled with unexpected isolation. Another song that was created during the break then is Devil and Mr. Jones.

Which Wild single? This song seems to me to be the most processed electronically and in the studio…

We recorded something of it at home, but the basis of the song is playing together in the studio. And yes, it was to this element that significant production changes were made, which gave the composition a more electronic form.

On the last three records, you collaborated with Dave Fridmann (otherwise also a member of Mercury Rev). How important is this character to Spoon?

He’s a great guy, pretty wild. After all, a number of records produced by him prove it. When we were supposed to work with him for the first time in 2014, I was looking forward to working with him. From the stories I heard about him, I was expecting an eccentric with tousled hair and eccentric clothes. In fact, Dave looks like a regular family guy. She takes care of her son, teaches studio technique at the university, which is the complete opposite of all the eccentricities he then does in the studio. The first thing that came to mind was how Rainy Taxi from the eight-year-old album They Want My Soul helped the world. Around the main piano motif, he built a seemingly meaningless arrangement full of mutated rhythms and vocals picked up on a cheap industrial microphone. At first I objected to him that what he was proposing was nonsense, but he just begged me to try. They were good ideas, and there’s an amazing benefit to Dave: he can bring new impulses to songs, which often helps our songs a lot.

As for the production of Lucifer On The Sofa, what was the contribution of Mark Rankin and Justin Raisen?

Mark probably did the most work on the new album. If we wanted to work with Dave, we had to go to his studio in the middle of the woods. And because this record was supposed to capture the urban atmosphere, we decided to shoot in Austin after a long time. So it happened that Mark came to us and got the most out of us and the studio. Mark is cool, I really enjoyed working with him. As for Justin, he was recommended to us by the label, he had great references. We recorded the song Feels Alright together over the weekend. He’s a completely different kind of producer: unlike the cool guys Mark and Dave, Justin gets things done.

There are two new members in the band since the last row (guitarist Gerard Larios and bassist Ben Trokan). Can you briefly introduce them? How did they affect the look of the new album?

Gerard came to Spoon when we were shooting the last record. This is the first album he records with us. He’s a brilliant guitarist – without his artistry, for example, there wouldn’t be a solo in The Hardest Cut, because none of us master the guitar like he does. Bassist Ben is such a quiet river, always a bit hidden behind distinctive drums. I think the opposites of the two rhythm members complement each other perfectly. But I still miss Rob Pope (he was the band’s bassist between 2006 and 2019 – editor’s note. author), we had a great time together. However, Ben is his best replacement.

Can you tell me what is behind the name of the new disc? Is Satan on the couch the darker side of us?

Yes, at least I understand that. Sometimes it’s hard to decipher Britt’s thoughts, no one sees her head. I have a picture in front of me: I’m sitting isolated on the sofa, I’m alone at home, so I have time for myself. As if I could see myself in the mirror. Something tells me not to succumb to dark thoughts, but other forces are whispering to me to let things go and quit.

Another theme on the album is Austin – the band’s hometown. What made you pay more attention to it?

We were very angry about the covid. Britt lived on exchange in Austin and Los Angeles, we also toured a long time as a band. We have needed to return to Austin more recently. Three members still live here, Jim, our drummer, has a studio where we often record. We probably needed to get to our Texas roots, to realize our identity. Admit that we come from a small town, with all the positives and negatives that brings. Austin is a good place to live. Something is still happening.

When we’re in Austin, the big surprise for me is the first song on the album – a cover of Bill Callahan’s song Held. You play a lot of remakes at gigs, but you end up shooting a few in the studio. What’s so unusual about this song that you make an exception in this case?

Many years ago, this song was part of the Spoon concert setlist. I was not a member of the band at the time. When the process of recording a new disc began, excerpts from Held were played randomly. Gerard came up with the idea and added other ideas to our version, and we started to seriously think about recording it in the studio. In the end, it really happened. The song contains two guitar lines, one playing in stereo on the left, the other on the right. I think thanks to this feature, the song sounds better in the earphones.

Because we are doing a radio interview, I have to ask about the song On The Radio. How important is the radio to you personally or do you not listen to it at all?

No, I love the radio. The song has a nostalgic edge to me, as it takes me back to the days when I spent hours on the radio and recorded my favorite songs on a small tape recorder. For me, and I dare say even for Britt, who wrote the song, the radio was a link to the big world. It brought us news and music from the big cities, and we felt, at least in part, that we were keeping the pulse of time.

I think a lot of people have fallen back in love with radio thanks to the covid isolation. Suddenly, the radio again became an intermediary for many lonely people. The only partner in an unexpected loneliness.

It’s a good mark. I also started listening to the radio more recently.

Spoon - Lucifer on the Couch

I have to ask about the Superet group, of which you are a member. Your first album How To Work A Room is awesome! Was it a one-time affair or are you planning something together in the future?

Thank you so much. It’s a group of friends I’ve known since I was very young. For example, I lived in the same apartment with bassist Patrick two years ago. Today, our paths diverged again, but it’s good that we managed to preserve our long-term efforts in the studio. I am happy. By the way, you’re the first person to ask me about this band. (laugh)

The songs that have now been released on Spoon’s new album are actually a few years old. Do you still consider them new?

Yes of course. Even though we’ve been living with them for a few years, it’s only now that we’ve managed to bring them to the fans. We have a few months of gigs ahead of me and I can’t wait to play them live. I love testing new songs. There is an important exchange of moods and opinions. We have the first concerts behind us and they went well.

I ask that I wouldn’t be at all surprised if you were already working on a new album…

I also thought about it yesterday when I couldn’t sleep due to jet lag. It may be time to prepare some new material. On the other hand, we now have a new record and its promotion and concerts are the number one priority.

You have a US tour in April. Are you also planning a European tour?

Not yet. Looks like we might still have logistical issues due to covidid. It pisses me off, so Britt and I went to Europe as a duo to play at least a few intimate acoustic gigs. The European tour will hopefully be released next year.

When I look at your concert map on the Setlist.fm portal, there is a clear border between Western Europe and Eastern Europe. Lots of gigs in the west, none in the east.

I know. I’m bad about this. I confess that I have no idea why this happened. Have we not received offers from Eastern Europe or are there other reasons? At the same time, we would like to come to your house to play. Really! Britt has just returned from vacation in the Czech Republic and was delighted to visit your country. Today at breakfast we realized we’ve never played with you before. Maybe that will change next year!

Interview of Pavel Zelinka with the keyboardist of the band Spoon You can also listen to Alex Fischel in audio.

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