Q&A – Hot Thoughts With Spoon’s Britt Daniel Prior To Their October Red Rocks Show

The Decemberists and Spoon Photography by Camille Breslin-24

Spoon has long been an indie-rock staple. Regarded as one of the most consistent bands in music today, their latest effort Hot Thoughts, while more experimental than their past work, is no exception. The band’s renowned excellence on record as well as in live performance hasn’t fallen on deaf ears as Spoon has already performed three sold-out shows in Colorado this year, and is preparing for their fourth at Red Rocks with the Shins in October. In advance of their upcoming performance, we spoke with Britt Daniel of Spoon about the new album, his thoughts on Colorado crowds and what consistency as a band means to him.

303 Magazine: What are your thoughts on Colorado crowds?

Britt Daniel: Colorado crowds have always been good to us. I remember one of the days that something was happening [with Spoon] was in Denver really early on in the 2000s at a place on 15th Street (the defunct Rock Island). [We were] set up on the floor, and there wasn’t a lot of space, but there were a good handful of people at a time when there weren’t too many handfuls of people coming to see us at other places.

303: Your upcoming Red Rocks show will be your fourth time performing in Colorado this year. Do you have a favorite Colorado venue?

BD: Well, Belly Up in Aspen and Red Rocks are two great examples, but on totally different sides of the coin. One is indoors, tiny and made of wood but has a real rock ‘n’ roll vibe, and then there’s Red Rocks, and there’s’ no place like it in the world.

Beck, Spoon, Shins, Red Rocks, 303 Magazine
Spoon at Red Rocks in 2015.

303: Since you’ve played Red Rocks before, I assume you’ve signed the famous wall of signatures. How does it feel to be able to sign that wall alongside so many iconic artists like U2?

BD: I always forget that [Red Rocks] is where U2 filmed their video for “Sunday Bloody Sunday,” but, it feels legendary. I remember you couldn’t turn on MTV for about a year or so without seeing that video, but I never knew where it was filmed. When I finally got to Red Rocks and realized it was the location of that video, it was kind of a moment. It was an epic rock moment.

303: The Shins and Spoon had quintessential albums of the early 2000’s, Wincing the Night Away and Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga, respectively. In fact, this year marks the 10th anniversary of Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga. What was it like in that time of indie-rock vs. now, and how do you approach making music today?

BD: We make records like we always have, continually trying to push a little bit. That’s what I like to see in bands that stick around. If a band is going to stick around and make more and more records then they better have a reason to do so. You either make a record that is just as good as that initial record, or you push out and do things that are expansive. I remember with Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga, we’d never really done Motown-y songs with horns, and we’d never really done anything like “The Ghost of You Lingers.” We’ve never done anything before or since that sounds like it.

The Decemberists and Spoon Photography by Camille Breslin-23
Britt Daniel of Spoon at Red Rocks in 2015.

303: In your opinion, what are some other songs that highlight Spoon’s career?

BD: If I were to make my own greatest hit list I’d put “Small Stakes” on there as it’s pretty minimal but still exciting, “Lines in a Suit,” a pretty emotional one for me, “30 Gallon Tank,” a really weird one for that era, and the “Underdog,” because when I wrote it, it felt like a Van Morrison song. “Us” off our new record is one of my favorite things we’ve ever done because it doesn’t sound like a ‘Spoon song.’

303: What inspires you musically nowadays?

BD: That thing that makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up, as cliché as it sounds. Something that moves me emotionally or wows me or makes me go, ‘What the fuck?’

303: Do you have any recent examples?

BD: We, by chance, played with this guy named Anderson .Paak and it made me feel the joy and warmth of when I was listening to Stevie Wonder or at a Prince show. I’d never heard of him before that, I’m sorry to say. Also, when I listen to Thee Oh Sees I feel the power of rock n’ roll – purely visceral rock ‘n’ roll music.

The Decemberists and Spoon Photography by Camille Breslin-37

303: Spoon gets heralded in the press a lot as one of today’s most consistent bands. What does consistency mean to you?

BD:  I don’t think they mean consistent in any repetitive way, but in a way that you know when Spoon puts out an album it’s going to be a quality disk. There’s one reason for it – we just work hard at it. The album is the most important thing we do. I love doing shows, but nothing to me tests the metal of a band more than an album. That’s something we put the most time, thought and artistry into.

303: How do you keep that consistency?

BD: We’re good, we’re talented and we don’t settle.

All photography by Camile Breslin.

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