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There are a lot more options available to the rock and roll connoisseur today than there were in 1963, the year The Beatles put out Please, Please Me and With The Beatles. Nowadays rock music births a new genre every week. For this reason bands need to stand out from the masses. Spoon is one such band.


Spoon has elements of The Kinks, Elvis Costello, and occasionally even David Bowie in their version of the rock music. But if Spoon were a campfire, those elder musicians would merely be kindling to the larger leaping flames. American rock and roll history has always been kindest to its musical outsiders. In the cacophony that is indie rock, Spoon is identifiable by their uniqueness. Perhaps Spoon’s greatest strength is that they focus on furthering the sound of their previous albums more than they do on sounding different from their contemporaries. Every new album they put out is better than the one preceding it. Because of this, they’ve created a sound that is wholly, delightfully, all their own.


Spoon’s lyrics are bizarre and abstract, but grounded in real feelings and anxieties [for renowned critic Harold Bloom, anxiety is a product of poetry]. Their music is strange at times, and perhaps not even instantly catchy. But it’s nurtured with enough of that elemental rock and roll quality to stand tall as other rock trends fade away.


Kill the Moonlight, Spoon’s newest and finest effort is a booming voice capable of shouting over all of today’s rock chatter. Go out and buy it. Your ears deserve it, for all the hard work they’ve done for you all these years. Besides, it’s a great way to pass the time until the next and, if the band stays true to their evolution, even better Spoon album hits the stores.


Recently PopMatters had an opportunity to speak with Spoon frontman Britt Daniels.



PopMatters:

Your album, for me at least, isn’t instantly accessible. It seems like a lot of your albums are that way. They’re the type of album that grows on you as you listen to them. I was curious if you consider you audience as you write these songs, or is songwriting an internal process for you?



Britt Daniels:

Mostly I try to get it right for me. It crosses my mind; this one will go down well, this one won’t. With most of my writing, I’m trying to get it to a place that excites me.



PM:

It seems to me, I’m seeing your name a lot more in the press, as opposed to some of your last albums. It seems to grow with every album you put out. Any reasons you see for you guys having a bit more success recently?



BD:

Better and better records? Better PR company? Just a matter of time? I think our last two records are the best.



PM:

Your singing is one of the things that intrigue me the most. You have a great sense of delivery. Your voice, did you develop that in any way?



BD:

I didn’t consciously develop anything. I think that’s the kind of thing that goes with somebody’s particular style, the kind of records you admire, the kind of singers you admire.



PM:

I’m curious about some of the effects you’ve been using on this album. Two of the more unique ones are the human beatbox effect on “Stay Don’t Go” and the beginning of “Paper Tiger”. What is that sound by the way?



BD:

It’s just a drum machine. We just processed it. We put the kick drum through a backward delay with a flange, and we put the snare through a forward reverb.



PM:

And how about that human beatbox sound?



BD:

That’s me. The way that came about was I needed something to play to when I was writing that song, I wanted to play to drum machine or something. And I was by myself so I couldn’t play to a drummer. I had just done another thing where I looped something, with my delay pedal, so I thought the fastest thing to do was this little placeholder. MM-AHH [mimics sound effect]. But that ended up being the way to go. That’s the greatest thing when you have those little accidents. I was no way intending for that to be on the record, but it seemed to work really well.



PM:

Definitely fits in though, and gives you a signature style. Writers talk about “finding their voice” as if it were some sort of quest. Do you feel like, in your songwriting, you’ve found your “voice”?



BD:

I guess so. That’s for other people to say. I’d like to think so. And I read that sometimes in certain reviews and I guess that’s cool. I never went about a quest. I always tried to write songs as best I could.



PM:

Do you have any general philosophy when you’re writing songs that you work towards? Or some sort of standards that you hold yourself to?



BD:

What I usually do when I’m writing is throw down a bunch of ideas really fast and just put them on a four-track. And then I go back and listen to them a couple hours later. The next day, or a week later. Listen to all those ideas and see if any of them are standing out. You get this vision; OK that one I could turn into that. But most of them will usually be crap. So I have to wade through a lot of stuff to get to the good stuff.



PM:

Is that how your recording process usually starts, tape a little sketch of a song and build it from there?



BD:

I usually just improvise a melody. Sometimes I’ll have lyrics and just start with that and just try to work that way. Usually it’s the melody first.



PM:

In jazz music, the flow of an album is pretty important. Which is why Miles Davis’ Greatest Hits sucks when compared to Jack Johnson or Round About Midnight. But in rock, that same sort of flow is less prevalent. Do your albums typically have a flow to them?



BD:

We try to make have a flow. I think that any record, if you position the songs differently will give people a different impression of what that album is about. Especially in these days towards the front end. Seems to me like I hear a lot of records being described as great records, and the rest is kind of garbage. And that front end really makes an impression on people. Cause then they’ll get to the fifth songs, and say “I love those three songs, but I’m going to put something else on.” I really want to shoot for the kind of record where every single song is something special. It’s hard to do that though.



PM:

What sort of impact do you see the home recording technology that’s available for personal computers having? It seems that on one hand, anything that encourages people to be active, to turn off their televisions for a while, is positive. Just as on the other side of the coin, it’s possible to create a synthetic band around yourself, without having people there and their distinct ideas behind all the instruments.



BD:

Well I think it’s like anything else. You can use that technology and be brilliant or you can use it and be terrible. I don’t think the technology itself makes something good or bad. So I think it’s a cool thing, to give some people a way to work and do big multi-tracking records that they never would have been able to afford. So it can only be a good thing. We used some of that on this record. After we’d been recording for a couple of months, Jim made us get out of the studio because it was driving him batty. There were a lot of other things going on, because the studio was out of his house. For a week or so I just worked on sounds at my house on ProTools. For the most part we record straight to tape. That was more sound effects. Like all the sound effects your hear on “Paper Tiger”. It’s still stuff I thought was pretty essential to making this stuff work.



PM:

A friend of mine talked about driving around to your album Girls Can Tell on the Ohio backroads. It’s just one of those albums he uses to think about the world. Any albums that make you stop in your tracks like that? Make you think?



BD:

John Lennon Plastic Ono Band does that for me. After The Gold Rush by Neil Young is a good one like that. Those are emotional albums.



PM:

What are some newer musicians that you’re in to?



BD:

I think the new Bright Eyes record is amazing. Connor is really doing something lasting, people are going to want to listen to that record for years to come. There are a lot of good records this year, not every one of them fits into that category, that makes you think about the world. I love the new Queens of the Stone Age, the new Interpol record, the new Beck, somebody popped that in in the van, that’s really good.



PM:

I was one of those people in high school that became obsessed with music, like a fat man with chicken McNuggets. Getting into a band back then, like the Dead or Zeppelin, kept leading me back to artists like Johnny Cash, Jimmy Reed, and Robert Johnson. Has that happened for you with anybody? What were some of the starting points in the music that you listen to?



BD:

I see a lot of things leading back to Buddy Holly. He’s a big one. The Beatles, but that goes without saying. The Velvet Underground. Wire. The Kinks.



PM:

What Kinks album? You’ve said before that they had a big impact on your songwriting.



BD:

Face to Face was a huge one. Something Else. Village Green. When I finally got into the Kinks I couldn’t believe I had been missing out for so long. I never got what The Kinks were all about until a few years ago. It’s a really unique approach and mind frame that Ray Davies has.



PM:

Do you guys have any future plans?



BD:

I’m not sure, we’re going to west coast in October. I think we’re going to Europe in November. I don’t know when I’ll get a chance to write again. I’ll be back in Austin in a couple weeks. I have it in my mind to settle down and do some writing, but that’s always easier said than done.

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