Their latest album sees Spoon take another leap into the musical stratosphere
There are many reasons for a band hiatus – illness, exterior interests or in-band discordance are a few. In many cases, its galvanising and eventual musicality can be decidedly rebellious but equally lucrative.
In the wake of their 2010 LP Transference, Texas alternative rockers Spoon indulged in well-earned respite – band members fulfilled other curiosities but ultimately reconverged with a refreshed, more adventurous personality.
2014’s They Want My Soul was revolutionary – heck Inside Out was entirely synth-driven. A renewed energy and the addition of producer Dave Fridmann (The Flaming Lips, Mercury Rev) transcended Spoon from guitar/keyboard conquerors to musical aviators.
Speaking with keyboardist/guitarist Alex Fischel, Fridmann had the guile the band so desired. “He definitely pushes for things to come out of leftfield, he’s definitely not one to shy away from a weird idea,” Fischel says. “Which is nice to work with, because a producer can definitely hear things in a way that makes things more commercial or palatable and he’s like ‘Fuck it, I like this weird shit and you should do it this way.’ ”
Without Fridmann’s craving for oddity, the band’s post-2010 metamorphosis may not have reached the same dizzying heights – bringing a zaniness that compelled members to say ‘Why not?’ instead of ‘That worked last time, let’s do it again.’
“An idea across the top of my head that worked perfectly from the beginning was on the song WhisperI’lllistentohearit –a two-part song where we needed a way to transition from one section to the next. Fridmann said ‘Ok Britt (Daniel), go to the pedal cabinet and pick ten of the craziest pedals you can find and bring them to me.’
“So Britt picks ten pedals at random and about 30 minutes later we had this crazy noise wall thing guiding the first section into the next – he killed it.”
Hot Thoughts propels sonic explorations from album eight to another level without compromising the meandering rhythms and infectious lyricism that’s made Spoon indie rock pillars and soundtrack Casanovas. Nevertheless, a cog of natural revolution is the ability to shed old skin; after surmounting guitar’s purest form, it was time to move on.
“Cutting acoustics just happened organically,” Fischel says. “Over time, your taste changes and you have different influences from the things you are taking in, whether its music or ideas informing the way you make the music. We didn’t have a chat and say ‘Let’s cut acoustics on this one.’ It happened naturally where we shied away from it.”
Fischel’s involvement with Spoon has mirrored that of an everlasting honeymoon. During the band’s four-year recording gap, Fischel was just another talented keyboardist unpretentiously wandering through Hollywood when Daniel’s side-project Divine Fits provided a gift for the musician.
“I was playing around LA a bunch with a group (PAPA) that opened up for Handsome Furs, Dan Boeckner’s other band, and he, Britt and Sam Brown were doing the finishing Divine Fits rehearsals in LA at the same time. They asked me to come in and I didn’t really know what was going on, we jammed for a bit and I thought that would be the end of the story but they kept asking me to come back – to my surprise.”
Soon after, Fischel was whisked on board for initial recordings of They Want My Soul – the rest is history. His influence has been particularly noteworthy, garnering praise from Daniel for not only his prodigious ability but reasons amenable to change – in music, inspiration and dynamic – a new conquest always requires a new chink of armour.
Hot Thoughts elevates Fischel from co-performer to co-creator – teaming up with Daniel for the conception of First Caress – a step reflective of his strengthening musical evolution. “I got ballsy and starting singing and a lot of it didn’t get much back-on but then one night I started singing this one thing and jeez, he liked it a lot I guess.
“We started working on it and I made the music and he wrote the lyrics and now it’s on the record. It’s my first time having my own song released like that which is a pretty cool feeling.”
By Tom Parker
Spoon will launch Hot Thoughts at the Croxton Bandroom on Saturday March 25. The album is out Friday March 17 via Matador Records.