Spoon - Britt Daniel on Never Settling | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Spoon - Britt Daniel on Never Settling

Reliably Brilliant

May 01, 2018 Photography by Zachery Michael Spoon
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Britt Daniel shrugs at the word “reliable,” although it’s the one that comes up from time to time.

Spoon is, by any measure, one of the most reliable rock bands around, if that reliability takes into account 25 years of constant experimentation and excellence from Daniel, Rob Pope, Jim Eno, and Alex Fischel. From Telephono to Girls Can Tell to Gimme Fiction to Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga to the band’s latest, Hot Thoughts, there’s not a single low point in the band’s cataloga quarter century of year-end lists and critical acclaim.

How does a band maintain such a brilliant streak? It’s not a mystery to Daniel, who is well aware of the consistent critical buzz earned by the Austin band over the last two-and-a-half decades. Spoon’s success can be boiled down to two key ingredients: the band’s interests and his insecurity.

“It’s always about whatever we’re interested in in the moment,” says Daniel about their constant sonic exploration. “I’m also always aware that there are a lot of artists that put out a couple great records and then they put out something not so great. I’m aware that can happen. Every time you go make a record, you kind of have to prove your mettle. We really set out to do that.

“It’s not a thing where I can take for granted that everything that we do is going to be gold, so we work at it. We are choosy. We go through a lot of ideas before we put out the ones that we really like. I see what I assume is laziness from some writers and some artists, and we never settle for that. I never settle for that.”

The reality of “never settling” means “always working” since it’s impossible to know when inspiration will strike.

“I feel like every day you have the potential to write something great,” says Daniel. “You’ve just got to get all of the elements right. It’s getting the right frame of mind and getting everything ready to go. It’s being accepting of ideas that come. It’s accepting the fact that if I pick up this guitar and it’s out of tune, I still have to keep playing on it. I can’t take the time to retune it because I’ve got this idea and I’ve got to go with it right this very second.

“I don’t know what makes a song work. It’s just some sort of energy, some unnamable presence. It’s some spirit. Sometimes you can latch onto that, and sometimes you can’t. It seems like some people are better at it than others. Some people have a better hit ratio than others.”

The constant pressure placed on Daniel’s shoulders is self-imposed, but he admits he doesn’t have it in him to take it easier. He admits dreaming of such a moment, but for now he’s too busy driving the ship of Spoon’s success.

“I’ve fantasized about making a record where I do nothing,” he says. “Maybe I just sing. I don’t have to write the songs. I don’t have to produce. I just sing. That would be cool. But we’ll see. I’m usually driving things. I’m not solely the person driving things in the studio, because there are other people working hard, but I’m usually where most of the stuff starts. So it would be a totally different type of record. It may not be good, but it would be a different process, for sure.”

[Note: This article originally appeared in Under the Radar’s Spring 2018 Issue (March/April/May 2018), which is out now. This is its debut online.]


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