Spoon’s latest album trades electronic instrumentation for raw rock and roll : NPR

Brit Daniel of Spoon tells Ayles Chang of NPR that the band has kept a simple plan for their 10th album: to make a great rock and roll album.



AILSA CHANG, HOST:

If you’ve been releasing records for almost three decades, even really great records, sometimes you just need to change everything to make everything interesting.

BRITT DANIEL: I think it’s just a natural tendency to want to respond to the last record we made. We feel it almost every time.

CHANG: This is Brit Daniel, the frontman of Spoon, who has just released his 10th album called “Lucifer On The Sofa”. Their last couple of records have been highly produced, with lots of electronic instruments. This one is not very.

(SUNDBITE SONG SONGS, “THE HARDEST TIME”)

DANIEL: I mean, the overall plan for the record was that not enough great rock and roll records were made, and we wanted to make one.

(SOUNDBITE OF THE SONG, “THE HARDEST TIME”)

SPOON: (Sings) You starred out late at night. But before you do that, comb your hair properly. Yeah.

CHANG: Daniel says he wanted the recording to sound like a live band playing together in a room. And to get that sound, the band went back to where it started – Austin, Texas. You can hear this raw energy of the rock band in the basement throughout this album, especially on the first song called “Held”.

(SONG SOUND SPOONS, “PREDJANA”)

DANIL: It’s the cover. And this is a song we played live in the 2000s. And we haven’t played since. So when we once got together to work on this record to tune us in, we started playing a few covers. And I dropped the idea, why don’t we play Held? We haven’t played this forever.

(HANDBYTE SONGS, “PREDJANA”)

SPOON: (Sings) For the first time in my life I allowed myself to hold on.

DANIL: And suddenly we had a thing that had a lot of teeth, more teeth than I remember. And I said, maybe it’s not just an exercise. Maybe we’re going to – maybe we really should write this one down. And what you hear on the record is – you know, you can hear me scream at some point in the song, like fill the drum twice as long.

(HANDBYTE SONGS, “PREDJANA”)

SPOON: Let’s make the filling twice as long. A little break …

DANIEL: We just left things like that there because it was good, you know?

CHANG: Yeah, I like that part.

DANIL: It’s us, you know, really understood it while walking.

(HANDBYTE SONGS, “PREDJANA”)

SPOON: (Sings) I let the ants cover me.

CHANG: Well, if you’re going on tour now, I mean you’re touring with 10 song albums. I’m sure there are a few that people want to hear on every show. Are there any old songs that you are afraid to play?

DANIL: No. I like playing our songs.

CHANG: (Laughter).

DANIL: I know …

CHANG: Nice to hear.

DANIL: … Some songs will continue – go better than others. But yeah, I enjoy playing them all.

CHANG: What about the opposite question? Are there any songs that you are particularly interested in continuing to play?

DANIEL: I’m really excited to play new songs. You know, they’re really good for rock shows.

(SOUNDBITE SONGS, “FEELS ALRIGHT”)

SPOON: (Sings) I’m fine, I’m standing here alone. A photo without correction neither from me nor from anyone else.

DANIEL: Sometimes you get to the end of a record and you have to understand, well, now how are we going to play this live? – because you recorded in the studio or wrote songs the way you recorded them. But not this album. It was the sound of a band playing in the room, feeding on each other. And so when that was done, you could just go out and start playing a few shows.

(SONG SOUNDBITE OF SPOON, “LUCIFER ON THE ROW”)

CHANG: I want to ask about the title of this album, because every time I talked about this upcoming interview that I was going to do with you with our producer, I thought I needed to prepare for “Lucifer On The Sofa” or if “Lucifer on the couch” will air? And it occurred to me what kind of words are I saying? This is such a funny image. So I just want to ask you, what does “Lucifer on the couch” mean?

DANIL: Well, a good name – right? – first of all.

CHANG: Yeah, you can’t forget.

DANIEL: Every good record needs a great title. But it comes from lyrics.

(SOUNDBITE OF THE SONG “LUCIFER ON THE ROW”)

SPOON: (Sings) Available in the front room, ash stains lips. Lucifer on the couch looking at you.

DANIEL: You know, I wrote these lyrics, and at first I wasn’t sure what they meant. And I needed to think things through. Why does this lyrics confuse me so much? Why did I come up with this image? And it was the best I could think of. That was the other side of me. “Lucifer on the couch,” it’s you at worst.

CHANG: What’s the worst thing for you? If you’re trying to encapsulate yourself at worst, what kind of image is that?

DANIEL: You know, these are times of anxiety, times of sorrow. You become much less patient. You can become indulgent. You may have, you know, a real lack of motivation. And I tried to get past that character in the song.

And so you see – on the cover of the record you see a guy from – whose face is split in two. There is a black side and a white side. And that should reflect the duality that is going on there.

(SOUNDBITE OF THE SONG “LUCIFER ON THE ROW”)

SPOON: (Sings) And for now I need peace. And nothing seems right.

CHANG: Brit Daniel is the frontman of Spoon. Their 10th album “Lucifer On The Sofa” was released. Thank you so much for being with us.

DANIL: It’s very nice to talk to you.

(SONG SOUNDBITE OF SPOON, “LUCIFER ON THE ROW”)

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