AUSTIN, Texas — Spoon don't overthink things. In fact, the Austin indie rockers follow their whims almost exclusively. Figuring out what those whims are is akin to falling backward down the stairs and finding a wad of cash at the bottom.
"Most of our ideas happen by accident," Spoon frontman Britt Daniel admitted during his hometown's annual South by Southwest music festival (see "Queens Of The Stone Age Are Kings Of SXSW 2005").
So, does the band's upcoming fifth record, Gimme Fiction — which features a Red Riding Hood-like woman on the cover — suggest creative writing exercises or fairy-tale fabrications, perhaps? "I just thought it sounded like a good title, like [the Rolling Stones'] Beggars Banquet," Daniel explained.
One fable that fits Spoon's modus operandi is the tortoise and the hare. Over the years, the Texas quartet has stayed the course, slowly but surely amassing more followers with each record. And this relaxed attitude has gained the group tastemaking fans — most recently the folks who program music on "The O.C." and those who select bands for the Coachella festival (see "Coachella Snags Coldplay, Nine Inch Nails, Weezer, Bright Eyes, Wilco"). Due May 9, Fiction might be a rock-steady affair, but Spoon flirted — if only temporarily — with the notion of creating a record that followed the beat of a different drum.
"There was one point when I actually thought, 'OK, let's make a dance record,' " Daniel said. "[But] I think you can push [preconceived musical ideas] too much and it can verge on sucking terribly."
Instead of parroting current trends, Daniel let instinct take over. "Once we got those pretensions of 'Oh, I wanna make a dance record' out of our heads, the songs just naturally developed."
Like the Stones album he cites, Fiction's direction is decidedly rock, shying away from the experimental moments found on Spoon's last record, Kill the Moonlight. One song did turn out rather dance-oriented, though: the first single, "I Turn My Camera On." The song was recorded late in the game and almost didn't make the record.
"I didn't think it was gonna be a dance song, but then Jim [Eno] came up with this beat," Daniel said of his drummer. "The falsetto makes people think of Prince and [the Stones'] 'Emotional Rescue.' "
A video for the clip has been shot by photographers Autumn de Wilde (Elliott Smith) and Wyatt Troll and has the loose concept of "robotic legs," according to Daniel. de Wilde said, "We wanted a video that was visually appetizing, but very sincere. It's a weird and abstract dance thing, finding the awkwardness in traditionally beautiful things." The band usually dreads making videos. "It's tough coming up with a video where you don't look like an idiot," Daniel said.
The band will support Interpol on a European tour before tackling the U.S. "We're mutual fans, we're sort of friends," said Daniel, who recently remixed Interpol's "Slow Hands" for use as a B-side. "It'll be a great pairing for us, because we're not very well known in Europe and they're huge there. So, 'Thank you, Interpol.' "
Daniel promises a full year of touring and is confident that Fiction will increase the ever-growing Spoon base — even if it's just one fan at a time. "We're still ascending. Each time, we get a little bit better and a little bit closer. We hit our stride with the last record, and this is clearly the best one."
North American Spoon tour dates, according to Merge Records:
- 4/30 - Indio, CA @ Coachella Festival
- 6/1 - Atlanta, GA @ Variety Playhouse
- 6/2 - Carrboro, NC @ Cat's Cradle
- 6/3 - Washington, DC @ 9:30 Club
- 6/4 - Philadelphia, PA @ Theater Living Arts
- 6/5 - Toronto, ON @ Lee's Palace
- 6/6 - Northampton, MA @ Pearl Street
- 6/7 - Boston, MA @ Paradise
- 6/8 - New York, NY @ Webster Hall
- 6/9 - New York, NY @ Webster Hall
- 6/10 - Cleveland, OH @ Beachland Ballroom
- 6/11 - Chicago, IL @ Vic Theatre
- 6/12 - Minneapolis, MN @ First Avenue
- 6/13 - Lawrence, KS @ Granada Theatre
- 6/14 - Denver, CO @ Bluebird Theater
- 6/16 - Portland, OR @ Crystal Ballroom
- 6/17 - Vancouver, BC @ Commodore Ballroom
- 6/18 - Seattle, WA @ Showbox
- 6/20 - San Francisco, CA @ The Fillmore
- 6/21 - Los Angeles, CA @ TBA
- 6/22 - Tempe, AZ @ Rialto Theater
- 6/24 - Dallas, TX @ Gypsy Ballroom
- 6/25 - Austin, TX @ Stubb's