Spoon’s Britt Daniel, “the way everybody makes money now is shows”
News website Salon recently spoke with Spoon vocalist / guitarist Britt Daniel. Excerpts from the interview can be viewed below.
On March 17, 2017, Spoon released their ninth studio album, Hot Thoughts, via Matador Records. The album peaked at number 17 on the US Billboard 200 chart. The title cut and lead single reached the top spot in its seventh week, marking the quickest rise to No. 1 for a song on the Adult Alternative Songs chart since Kings of Leon’s “Waste a Moment”. The band will spend most of the year on tour promoting its latest effort. For a list of those dates, please visit our previous post at this location.
What have been your biggest musical takeaways as you survey Prince and Bowie, either on this current record or just kind of in general?
I think the best artists are showing you moods that you can experience, moods that you can live in. Those artists, in particular, were so great at creating the mood and a unique mood per song. Showing you some kind of sound world, or just world, that no one else has shown you before. When I listen to [Prince’s] “The Ballad of Dorothy Parker,” I definitely get that. This is a different world, you know? The words, the music, the chorus, everything, is just combining into this thing that is just beautiful and beyond human.
It’s its own universe — on all of their records and all of their songs, that’s what sticks out to me.
Yeah, it’s also just amazing to listen to those records and think about how quickly those records were being made. How everything was just happening for this one brief period of time. It’s just a truly inspired moment, say for Prince, maybe ’80 through ’87, just such an inspired moment. Everything he touched was just magic.
Absolutely. And you think about how much he evolved too in that short amount of time. You get on a creative streak like that and you’re envious, because so few people get on those, and so few people can sustain that as well.
Right. And you know what? I felt like I was on one of those trips this time. To get back to your question about what was different about it and what was I going through, I really felt like there were times in the few years before where I would work on music, I’d write songs and I’d think to myself, ‘Remember when I got all of those songs in a row during that one two-month period? I really want to get on one of those rides again.’ And it finally happened this time, while I was writing the songs for this record, where stuff just kept coming and I knew it was good. I knew it was going to make the record. I was on a good roll.
Now, I haven’t written a song in six months, so I’m off the roll. You know, I’d be wise to keep going, but it’s just the way that the music biz works these days. It’s hard to keep… my attention was needed elsewhere. It’s hard to just keep writing and being in that intense place when it’s time to go and do shows. And the way everybody makes money now is shows.
Is that different than when you guys started out, then? How does that compare to earlier in your career?
Well, we weren’t pulled away very often when we started out, because we weren’t that popular. So when I’d made that first record, “Telephono,” and that came out, I remember I was writing [1997’s] “Soft Effects” [EP] and recording it. [“Telephono”] came out in April; we were working on [“Soft Effects”] in June and July, because we didn’t have anything going on, you know? [Laughs] Nowadays, it’s not really like that. Maybe if we had had more success with them, the same kind of thing would happen. It was really around [2002 LP] “Kill the Moonlight” or [the 2005 LP] “Gimme Fiction” where we became successful enough that we could go out and make money doing shows, instead of losing money doing shows. And then when that happened, things started moving a little slower.
What are the biggest physical and emotional differences for you touring now, as opposed to touring maybe 15 years ago when you really started?
Physical differences… yeah, when we couldn’t give away tickets to our shows. We would end up losing money — or come back after living very, very frugally with a couple of hundred bucks at the end of the tour. I mean, yeah, you can’t get a hotel room, you certainly couldn’t get a bus. The size of [concert] rooms is a physical thing. They’re much bigger now. [Laughs] And that’s not always good! It’s harder to connect with people in a huge room, you know?
Emotionally, I don’t know, I feel more… When I was younger, especially starting out this band, I was very distant. There were a lot of cool rules we lived by. At some point, maybe around “Girls Can Tell,” I started opening up a little bit more, letting down my guard and seeing the beauty in showing vulnerability or love or other moods other than just being cool. [Laughs] We don’t always do that, but we have found a way to do that at times.
This last record, that song “Us” makes me feel real emotional, and it doesn’t have any words. I mean, that one sounds to me like it’s the arc of a relationship, the way that song unfolds. That’s the way I think about it as I hear it. I love that tune.
Read the entire interview at this location.