We hung out with Jim and Alex from Spoon! In sunny Munich, before their show at Technikum. We talked about labels, making records, making pina coladas and a lot more.
Their new album ‘Hot Thoughts’ is out now, watch the official video for ‘Can I Sit Next To You’ right here.
So you guys just started your European tour – how’s it going so far?
Alex: It’s been good yeah, tonight will be show number 3!
Jim: We all had a pretty bad jetlag on day one, and a tough travel day before our first show… bags went missing, flights got cancelled etc. Great start, ha! But besides that, it’s been fun.
You released your new album a few months ago, and just like every other of your albums, it didn’t get one bad review…
Alex to Jim: And now she’s like ‘Until now!’, haha, ‘I wanna be the first!’
Haha, of course, that’s what we’re here for! Well, do you guys care about that kind of stuff? What the press says? Or are you happy as long as you’re pleased with your work?
Alex: I think good press is nice, of course, I don’t read too much of it but we know it’s a really good record.
Jim: It’s validating. It makes you feel like you’re not crazy, you know? When you think you made something sick and then someone is like ‘Oh yeah, that IS sick!’.
Alex: Yeah, you make a record in your little bubble, you make it so you’re happy with it. And hopefully everyone else get’s it and likes it as well.
I really love the artwork of ‘Hot Thoughts’ – can you tell us a bit about it?
Alex: Sure, a friend of Britt’s made it. She put some of her paintings on instagram, he didn’t even know she was a painter, and Britt just took a screenshot of one and was like ‘This looks like a record cover!’.
Jim: She made a series of paintings for all the songs. We love it.
Dave Fridmann produced the record – why did you choose exactly him to produce it?
Jim: We worked with him on our last record too, he produced half of it and mixed the whole thing. After working with him we knew we wanna do the next record with him too. He’s just a great person to work with. He’s really, really creative and an amazing engineer as well as producer. We just knew we were gonna do the record with him.
Are you an easy band to work with?
Jim: In the studio or in general?
Let’s say in the studio.
Alex: We’re very picky. So it requires someone who’s patient. And also someone who’s like ‘Get over it, this is good! Keep it like that!’ – at which Dave is really good at. Someone who makes you see the bigger picture and someone who can calm you down.
Jim: Exactly. Also, this is our 9th record, so we know exactly what we think is good and what is bad. So from a producing standpoint this can actually be easier to work with, cause the band can – and will – actually give you feedback, tell you what they like. So we’re probably easy and hard to work with a different times.
Alex: Yeah. It probably also depends on who you ask. *laughs*
A while ago you said record labels haven’t influenced the way you work, because you paid for everything yourself first and then decided what label you wanna work with. Is that a way of working you’d recommend to other bands?
Jim: Absolutely, yes. I always try to tell bands to do that as much as possible because then you have the leverage, especially with a label. You’re not like ‘Hey label, give us a bunch of money to make a record’, and then they don’t know what they’re getting. If you finish the record on your own, they know exactly what they’re getting and everyone can be psyched about it. It also gives you leverage to licence the record instead of giving it straight to the label. A lot of labels don’t do licensing… but still, it puts the band in the driver seat, you know?
The following is a fan question for Britt, that Jim & Alex insisted on answering anyway… so there you go… @Britt – you’re welcome.
Britt, since your guitar playing makes a big part of Spoon’s unique sound… when was the time you realized you wanna start playing?
Alex: I think it has something to do with Prince.
Jim: I think it has something to do with The Beatles! His dad used to have some guitars at his house and was listening to Beatles records all of the time. And I think he once told me he started by playing along to some Beatles songs.
Alex: Yes that’s true!
That’s a great way to start. (Tanja said, with her Beatles tattoos all over her body)
Jim: Totally, so yeah, this may or may not be true… *laughs*
Do you guys have something like a ‘motivation record’, something you put on to get ready for the gig?
Alex: 50 Cent – ‘In Da Club’ *laughs*. Last tour we listened to Kendrick Lamar a lot. We haven’t really found our thing yet.
Jim: We used to have Alex DJ a bit before the show, but at the moment we’re just playing ourselves a bit, so I feel like that’s taking up all the time… but we need to bring that back, man!
What’s your personal favourite song from everything you’ve released so far?
Jim: Oh wow. I’d say ‘I Summon You’
Alex: I only get to go two records back so… I really like ‘I Ain’t The One’.
If you could be any fictional character… who would you like to be?
Alex: God. *laughs*
Jim: Haha! I was gonna go with James Bond, but that’s still not as good as god.
Are there any newcomer bands you’d like to recommend?
Alex: WAND. They’re from LA, they’re really good. Great guitar-driven music, their shows are crazy.
Jim: I’d recommend the band Twin Peaks from Chicago. I love those guys. We’re playing some shows together, gonna be wild.
What is one thing you still wanna achieve in life?
Alex: I really wanna open a reggae bar.
Jim: Oh, that sounds good. I’ll join! Can I be the house mixologist?
Alex: Sure thing dude!
Jim: Brilliant, I’ll just practise making a pina colada.
Alex: I can totally picture it… right on the beach… wearing sport shorts only…
Jim: And it will have one of these thatched roofs… I can see it!