"Making a record is about collecting inspired moments" - hmv.com talks to Spoon
Texan rockers Spoon are one of the great unsung heroes of American rock. Together since 1993, they've never been front page news, they've just consistently made great records, eight in all. Their latest effort They Want My Soul is out on Monday (August 4th) and we sat down with frontman Britt Daniel to find out all about its making...
Did it take a long time to record this album?
"We were working on it right from October up until about SXSW time, not just the songs, but the actual recording. We'd worked on the songs for quite a while."
What are you guys like in the studio? Are you the kind of band who does a lot of takes? Or do you work quickly?
"It all depends really. There'll be times when we do lots of takes, others when it happens pretty fast, it usually depends how strong the demo is. For us, making a record is about collecting inspired moments, that's what we're always looking for. When you're stuck in a studio, you're not always going to be inspired, you have to take those opportunities."
You've worked with both Joe Chiccarelli and Dave Fridmann on the new album, why did you decide on them?
"They were guys I'd heard about. I'd heard about Joe, I knew he was interested in working with us, which is always encouraging. I'd done a single with him with Divine Fits (Daniel's side project), so I got to know him through that. Dave was someone I'd sought out for a long time, we had mutual friends, they all told me he was brilliant, so I knew I wanted to work with him. I love so many of the records he worked on, those Flaming Lips records just keep getting better and better. I knew he'd give us something great."
Is it a even split between the two on the album?
"There's slightly more of Dave, also he mixed the songs, so it feels like there's more of him. We did it in halves, we did a half with Joe, mixed that with Dave, got to know Dave and then decided to have him produce the rest of it, because it was a little rough with Joe. Doing it in halves meant we could switch up in the middle."
What does rough mean in this case?
"Just a few disagreements, mainly about the vibe, for want of a better word. There were songs that I thought were good that Joe thought needed a lot more work. On the song 'Outlier' for example, it doesn't really have a chorus, just a lot of 'Na na na's, which is pretty much the catchiest thing of all time. I thought it was fine as it was, but Joe was intent on adding a chorus. A few disagreements like that, just aesthetics. I'm on good terms with the guy, but it made sense for us to keep working with Dave."
You didn't start again though, you could have done...
"We'd have lost our minds if we had. It was good, the stuff we did with Joe, it's on the record for a reason. We disagreed on a few songs, it wasn't terrible."
Dave Fridmann has a studio way out in the woods right?
"Oh yeah, it's about 20 miles to anything but a gas station. It's great though, big empty rooms, you can relax easily, I liked being there."
Did you like being cut off from everything?
"No, No I didn't. I know some bands need to be completely without distractions, I'm great at focusing. I can focus in the middle of New York City, the busiest place in the world. People go there for Dave, he's that good."
This was your first time recording with Alex Fischel in Spoon, what did he bring?
"Lots. He's the one virtuoso among us, we're all pretty good, but he can play anything on the keyboards. It didn't change the writing too much, but it made a big impact on where we could go with the songs once they were written."
How do you write songs? Do you have a routine? Or is it a case of 'it comes when it comes'?
"It comes when it comes, but I do think inspiration likes to find you working. It will come a lot more often if you say to yourself 'I'm writing songs this week' and make yourself ready. I take a lot of inspiration from Nick Cave and his 'it's time to work' attitude, you have to make yourself ready."
How did you want this record to move on from Transference?
"I wanted two things. I wanted it to be the best record we'd ever made, and an album that was less introverted, I wanted songs you could blast on your car stereo. I felt like you react to the thing you did before, so this is us pushing it in the other direction."
How did that fit in to the lyrics?
"I write lyrics in any way I can. I'm trying to make it sound right, there's always meaning behind them. I have to let everything go when I write lyrics, they come from all over the place, movies, things I hear people say, all over the place."
When did you settle on the title?
"Not too long ago, it's always a difficult thing. I think it's more because it fitted the artwork really well."
Finally, what's the plan for after the record drops?
"A lot. We've got US festivals all summer, then a full US tour in September, then we're touring Europe in November. We'll probably be on the road until next summer I would think."
Spoon's new album They Want My Soul is released on Monday (August 4th). You can check out the rest of their back catalogue in our download store now.