Merchant of Soul
Over the past 15 years, Spoon has gone from being former Austinite Britt Daniel's bedroom brainchild to one of the most successful indie-rock bands out there: Saturday Night Live appearance, Jaguar commercial, six-figure sales, etc. The quartet hasn't changed much of anything really, except each album has had a little more — to borrow a title from the most recent, 2007's Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga — "Rhthm & Soul" than the last.
Spoon's songs, though, are always built around Daniel's etched-glass guitar and Jim Eno's metronomic drums, and ever populated with Daniel's singular blend of bizarre characters and prickly emotions. Chatter picked the brain of the singer-songwriter (and now producer) last week while he was at his adopted home in Portland, Oregon.
Chatter: Spoon's been pretty quiet over the past year. What have you been up to?
Britt Daniel: We toured quite a bit on the last record, so we were still touring at this time last year. We went to Japan in the summer. We've been working on new songs, and I produced this band called the White Rabbits. That record's going to come out in May. Mostly writing and working with that other band, and a little bit of touring.
C: Was this your first time in the producer's chair?
BD: No, but it's the first time I produced a whole album by another band. I produced a few little things here and there, but never a whole album other than my own.
C: Producers play all kinds of roles in the studio, from just turning the recorder on to being almost another member of the band. Where did you fall on that spectrum?
BD: Yeah, you never know what that credit means just from seeing it on a credit sheet. But for me, I'm not much of an engineer. We had an engineer, so I was just kind of making suggestions in that realm every now and then. I think mostly I was just there to have an opinion — if that take is good, if that part is good, maybe you can hit that lyric again or something.
C: Are you the type of songwriter who waits for an idea or a hook to appear fully formed, or are you always tinkering with something until you're satisfied?
BD: Usually it's tinkering. Sometimes you get lucky and something comes to you fully formed, but usually I'm kind of going out there and messing with it for a while until it seems right. It's great when it comes right to you, but I can't count on that. Maybe some people can.
C: How do you know when something's finished?
BD: It has to be some kind of emotional state where you feel like the song is done. You listen to it and you know that it doesn't make you cringe, and you know that it makes you proud. There's no quantifiable way of saying when it's done — you just know.
U2 and Live Nation announced last week that the Irish rockers will take over Reliant Stadium Wednesday, October 14. Tickets, priced from around $30 to $250, go on sale at 10 a.m. this Monday at Ticketmaster.com, 1-800-745-3000, select Macy's, Fiesta, HEB, Wherehouse Music and FYE stores and the South ticket window at Reliant Stadium.
This Saturday is Record Store Day — participating Houston-area merchants (Cactus, Sound Exchange, Sig's Lagoon) will offer items from an audiophile buffet browsable at www.recordstoreday.com. Cactus will also host in-store performances by the McKenzies (12:30 p.m.), the Octanes (2:30 p.m.), a Cobra Starship meet-and-greet (4 p.m.) and Centro-matic's Will Johnson (7 p.m.), whose folk-art exhibit of baseball players from Satchel Paige to Hank Aaron opens that evening in the adjacent Record Ranch.
2110 Portsmouth, 713-526-9272
1. Yeah Yeah Yeahs, It's Blitz!
2. Various Artists, Keep Your Soul: A Tribute to Doug Sahm
3. Leonard Cohen, Live in London
4. Bob Dylan, The Basement Tapes (remastered)
5. The Flatlanders, Hills & Valleys
6. Diana Krall, Quiet Nights
7. Decemberists, The Hazards of Love
8. PJ Harvey & John Parish, A Woman A Man Walked By
9. U2, No Line on the Horizon
10. Justin Townes Earle, Midnight at the Movies
The Local Show
KTRU (91.7 FM), Tuesdays 8-10 p.m.
Selections from Ian Wells' April 7 playlist
1. Ghost Mountain, "Squid Riot/Good Heart"
2. Giant Princess, live on the air
3. B L A C K I E, "Copy Coma (edit)"
4. Buxton, "Westward"
5. Homopolice, "Learn to Hate in the '80s"
6. de Schmog, "House on Fire"
7. Jandek, "Part 3"
8. Juke Boy Bonner, "Houston, the Action Town"
9. Bubble Puppy, "Lonely"
10. Young Mammals, "Duck"
(lists compiled by Chris Gray)
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