2006_12_britt_daniel.jpgI first came across Spoon in 2002 when I found a copy of Kill the Moonlight at my library. Being ignorant of music at the time, I didn't know that it was one of the best-reviewed albums of the year. I did know, though, that I liked it. And, since then, Spoon has remained one of my favorite bands, so I jumped on the chance to speak with Britt Daniel to promote Spoon's December 30th appearance at Webster Hall .

What are some things that shaped your musical sensibility?
Just listening to a lot of records, getting emotional about them, falling in love with them.

What are some of your earliest memories of encounters with music?
I think the very first one I remember is hearing the theme to 2001 when I was a kid. It was very dramatic. I think that Elvis used it at one point to open his show. Then I went for You Can't Always Get What You Want by The Rolling Stones because it had a boy choir and I thought it was cool.

What were some of your favorite albums and artists when you were in middle school and in high school?
Middle school? I remember buying Hall and Oates, The Art of Noise, and pop stuff like Frankie Goes to Hollywood. High school I was more into The Cure, The Violet Femmes, Led Zeppelin. Went through a really wicked Doors phase for a while, like everybody in high school does.

Was there a phase when you were really into punk rock or post-punk?
Yeah, I went thought a punk stage in high school too. First with the Sex Pistols and then with The Ramones, and expanding out. I really got into post-punk when I was in my early twenties and mid-twenties when Spoon got going. That's what we really wanted our first couple of records to sound like.

What particular artists influenced your sound at that time?
There was a lot of Wire, Gang of Four. Wire was definitely the biggest one. Public Image. That kind of era.

But you were also a fan of Can and Krautrock at the time?
Yeah. I was never an expert, but I had four Can records and that's where the band's name came from.

Does it seem like Krautrock is a musical movement whose influence is having resurgence in recent years?
I didn't hear them name checked at all when I bought my first Can record in high school, but now I hear that a lot.

Do you have any memories for waiting in long lines for concerts or going back stage to meet a particular musician?
I never waited long hours for a ticket. The way we did it in Temple, Texas where I grew up was that you'd go up to the HEB, which is a grocery chain, and the tickets to U2 or whatever would go on sale at seven in the morning on a Saturday. We didn't bother waiting in line and just tried to get there at seven. I was always pretty hesitant to go backstage. I didn't feel entitled to go tread into that territory.

I've read that when people meet artists that they respect that they're sometimes disappointed that they're not larger than life like they had expected. Have you ever had such an experience?
It's true sometimes. When I met Robert Smith he seemed just as larger than life as I always thought he was. That might be because he's always in costume.

What are some concerts that you saw when you were younger that you particularly enjoyed?
I saw the Bee Gees. I saw The Ramones a couple of times in high school. That was big. I'm trying to think if there's anything between the Bee Gees and The Ramones. I saw Billy Joel.

What sort of concerts do you prefer to see, a big spectacle like The Flaming lips or something more personal?
I love seeing The Flaming Lips. That's a great show and even though it is kind of a spectacle it still feels intimate because of Wayne's personality. But, over all, I'd much rather see a band in a place that holds two hundred people and just see a rock show. They're more personal.

What do you want people to take away from your music and live performances?
I just try to make it as good as I can and hope that I get lucky that people will like it. I want people to like it, but I have to do it based on what seems good to me.

How do you feel about your albums being available on file sharing networks?
I think that's okay. I think it's a good way for people to hear your music. Of course, I want them to buy it afterward, but I just mean that there are limited avenues these days for getting your music heard. It seems like you used to be able to see a number of bands on MTV or MTV2 or hear them on the radio, but now, unless you get really lucky, you have to be something that's totally in this formula to make it to those outlets.

How'd you feel when your albums leaked in the past?
When Kill the Moonlight and Girls Can Tell leaked, I was thrilled. I was like, "Whoa, people actually want to hear this before it comes out." That was great. Gimme Fiction was the first time that we thought, "Is this going to stop us from selling records?" But I still stand by it being a good thing over all.

What do you think of the current pay per song model of buying music online?
My preferred method is to buy a CD or record- to have the whole album. Albums are what mean the most to me. That's the most pure way. But it is convenient. Say we're recording and I want to be able to recall a song by Lindsey Buckingham that I don't have around and I don't want to run to the store. There's a really quick way to get that and play it for everyone so that they know what I'm talking about.

Do you have a ritual when you're listening to an album for the first time or listening to music in general?
No, no ritual.

While you were in high school or afterward, did you have an interest in reading and writing music criticism?
I did, a little bit. There was a while where I thought I might want to be a writer, but that was in high school and a couple years after ward. It didn't really last for too long.

What sort of role do you think music journalism should play in people's consumption of music?
Hopefully music journalism is a way for a writer to champion something and take it upon themselves to bring something less known to an audience that would otherwise not know about it.

Are there any music critics who you like to read?
I like this guy Michael Corcoran here in Austin a lot. There's Heather Phares from All Music guide who's always pretty spot on.

Is it fair to say that the music that you make reflects what you're going through at that particular time in your life?
It might come out sometimes. Sometimes the song are in no way intended to be personal or a reflection of right now, but even when you don't mean for it to be little details get brought to the front.

Do you prefer artists who are exact with the meaning of their songs or when they leave it up to listener interpretation?
I like both, but I guess you could be lousy at either. Bruce Springsteen can be pretty direct and clear and he's great. Jonathan Richman is the same way and he's great. But the abstract stuff is super too when it works, like a Stephen Malkmus lyric. For a long time I didn't try to do anything direct at all and hid behind thinking that what I was writing was semi-poetry. The longer I've written songs the more I try to occasionally be more direct.

Is there something that's going on in your life now that's going to affect the new record?
I've been hunting crocodile.

Spoon has a reputation for coming up with good album names. What are some of the names that you've rejected?
I wanted to call the last one Cherries Etc. It would be Etc period, but I could never talk Jim [Eno] into doing that. I've wanted to call them all Fish Fingers. I like that name, but Jim didn't like it either. We almost called Kill the Moonlight Bring It.

What is the song writing process like for Spoon?
Almost always what happens is that I'll work on the song to some point, whether there's a rough idea or something pretty concrete that I've demo-ed and kind of gotten firm. Occasionally, we'll write something in a rehearsal, but that's pretty rare. Fitted Shirt was one of those. Where the riff came up like that and I had to go write the lyrics.

What sort of sensibility does Jim bring to the process?
A very righteous and gentlemanly sensibility.

How did the solo record that you're working on come about?
I just mentioned it in passing once. I said, in the beginning of this year, that my goal was to write and record a Spoon record and a solo record. We're almost done with the Spoon record and it'll be a week or two after January that we actually finish it. I've got a few songs set aside for the solo record, but other than maybe one song there's no real work that's been done for it. It's a ways off.

Do you know how the solo record would compare to a Spoon album or are you unable to say at this point?
More castanets.

Do you collect vinyl?
I do.

What are some of your more prized records?
All my dad's Beatles records. All the American issues. I came across a box set of brand new, un-listened to Beatles records. I've got some fancy ones in there, but I can't think of one.

Where is it that you do most of your vinyl shopping?
Second hand stores usually. You can get so many great records for so cheap that way. If I really want to get something new, Waterloo. I actually live in Portland, so most of the time I'll go up to Everyday Music.

Having done the score for Stranger Than Fiction, do you think that you'd like to do more film scores?
I'd like to. I don't know when I'd have time to because being in a rock band is my main concern and it takes up so much of my time. It was definitely a good experience and fun to do. A very, very different experience.

Who are some film composers that you enjoy?
Jon Brion. I like this guy Cliff Martinez a lot. I first came across him because he did the soundtrack for the new version of Solaris. I love the Solaris score. I probably listened to it more than any other record in the last ten years. It's got an incredible sustained mood and the instrumentation is very unique. I've never heard anything like it.

How much time do you dedicate every day to rock?
Must be half the day, every day.

What are some albums or artists that you think rock hard?
Raw Power by The Stooges. Any of the first five Led Zeppelin records. Black Flag.

Has Spoon ever thought of having a comedian open for them?
We thought of doing that at a record release or some sort of unique event, but we haven't done that yet. We had David Cross do an interpretive dance with us this summer. That was cool. I'd pick David Cross but only if he came out as Tobias Fünke. Some of the actors on Arrested Development are incredible. I don't know if they do stand up, but I think Tony Hale is incredible. Will Arnett is incredible.

Do you a allow yourself time to watch television or go out to movies?
Not a lot of it. I get a little in every now and then. I saw The Departed. I did see Borat. That was great. I've been a fan of him for a long time. I just rented this movie called The Little Fugitive. It's a 50's, sort Cinema Verite movie. It follows this little kid around Coney Island in the 50's and it's just amazing to see all of these details of what Coney Island was like then, and what people dressed like and talked like.

In terms of the forthcoming record, what should people expect?
I think it's different, but I don't know how to describe it yet.

What have you been listening to while making this record?
Gary US Bonds. That's very party, 60's music. Johnny Mathis. Peter, Bjorn, and John. King Tubby. Been listening to a lot of King Tubby, which might actually come out in a couple of places on the record.

Which instruments are you excited about using on the new album?
We have used some instruments we never used before. We have a harmonica on one song, we bought a vibraphone and an electric harpsichord. We bought this thing called a koto. Castanets.

Are there any instruments that you'd like to use but can't because it doesn't fit with Spoon's sound, like a theremin?
I don't really want to use a theremin. It's such an easy to cite instrument that brings a lot of baggage with it. Everybody knows what it is and kind of associates it with something. I like it and I watched a great documentary on it once, but I'm just not going to use it myself.

What do you associate theremins with?
It brings to mind sort spooky music or sci-fi. Spooky sci-fi.

What do you think of progressive rock like Yes, Emerson Lakes and Palmer, Pink Floyd?
I'm not into that.

Are there any other genres that you're not so much into?
Young country.

What would that be?
That's how I hear pop country music of today described. I like some country music, but if you turn on KAFC, I don't like most of what's on there. That's the country station here in Austin.

Do you play Guitar Hero?

What do you like to do when not recording a new album or touring?
At that point I'm usually writing songs. It's a problem I have. It's hard for me to relax sometimes.

What do you think of when people like to throw around the term "sell out"?
Everyone has their own thing about selling out. To me, you'd be a sell out if you were good at making a certain type of music and set that aside in order to reach a bigger audience, thinking, "What I want to do now is reach a bigger audience and not do the thing that I know is good but has a more limited appeal." I don’t think that putting your heart, soul, and guts into an album and later somebody wanting to license it for other means has anything to do with selling out. It didn't have anything to do with the creation of the song. Iggy Pop said, "If people want to use my songs to sell sausages, that's fine because they weren't made for sausages."

What do you like to do after a performance?
Make a fiesta.

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