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Spoon interview: toast, marmalade, and Lucifer On The Sofa

Spoon
(Image credit: Oliver Halfin)

The title of Spoon’s latest album, Lucifer On The Sofa, makes you wonder about frontman Britt Daniel’s house guests. 

“I loved that line when it popped out, but wasn’t sure what it meant,” he says with a laugh. “I later figured out it was a conversation with myself. It represented the worst of me that can come out in times of stress and anxiety.” 

Like so many other bands, Spoon had to find creative workarounds during the pandemic lockdowns. The result is a record that channels that stress and anxiety into 10 taut, hooky songs. We caught up with Daniel to chat about life away from recording, watching the new Beatles film, and doing temp jobs

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The recent Beatles documentary Get Back is the talk of many musicians right now. How did it affect you when you watched it? 

I never thought I’d get to hang out with The Beatles as they create. You get to watch Paul McCartney write Get Back. And that’s the way I recognise writing songs. You get in a bit of a trance. You’re feeling it, mumbling words, letting something else take over. It made me feel good to recognise that process. 

It also made me a bit nostalgic for the analogue world. Look at them. No devices. They’re right there with each other the whole time. The only distractions are toast and marmalade [laughs]. 

It’s been four years since Spoon’s previous album, Hot Thoughts. What’s your life like between records? 

There’s a lot of tacos [laughs]. No, there’s a lot of touring. Really, it’s just playing shows, travelling, writing and getting ready to make another record. And I moved from LA back to Austin in 2019.

Along with the new album, you posted a playlist on streaming platforms that ranged from Black Sabbath to Stevie Wonder

We sometimes make these inspiration playlists before albums. On this album I wanted to get away from the more produced sound we did last time. I wanted to hash out the songs and arrangements beforehand. And I was drawn to these songs with insistent rhythms with lots of open space. For instance the Who song Run Run Run, which is on the playlist, was kind of the basis for the groove of The Hardest Cut

About eight years into Spoon, you had an interlude where you had to do temp jobs to make ends meet. What was that like? 

It was a make-or-break moment, because we had a manager and a lawyer telling Jim [Eno, drums] and I that we needed to either quit the band or start over. I had family members sending me books on pre-law [laughs]. I did feel a bit desperate. 

At the same time, we were writing and recording [2001 album] Girls Can Tell, and I knew it would be our best album. Yet no one wanted to put it out. When I didn’t quit, all this beautiful stuff happened. Every step that’s come since that has brought a bit more success has been so appreciated, because of that low moment. 

What would an ideal 2022 look like for you? 

If the world doesn’t explode [laughs], we get to do all the shows that we’ve got planned. There’s nothing that makes me feel more alive than being on tour.  

Lucifer On The Sofa is out now via Matador Records. The Deluxe Playlist follows.

Bill DeMain
Bill DeMain

Bill DeMain is a correspondent for BBC Glasgow, a regular contributor to MOJO, Classic Rock and Mental Floss, and the author of six books, including the best-selling Sgt. Pepper At 50. He is also an acclaimed musician and songwriter who's written for artists including Marshall Crenshaw, Teddy Thompson and Kim Richey. His songs have appeared in TV shows such as Private Practice and Sons of Anarchy. In 2013, he started Walkin' Nashville, a music history tour that's been the #1 rated activity on Trip Advisor. An avid bird-watcher, he also makes bird cards and prints.