Spoon’s rise to the top of the indie pack can be attributed to one thing — hard work.
The band has become a Billboard charting group, selling nearly 50,000 copies in the U.S. of last disc Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga in its first week of release, the old fashioned way — sticking it out until people take notice. It’s something, says founding drummer Jim Eno, that new bands can’t do.
“I really wouldn’t want to be a young band now,” he says. “It’s hard to get deals and labels aren’t spending money. How do you get noticed? We’ve been lucky enough to have been around.”
The group released its first EP in 1994, and slowly built a following around scrappy, alternative rock. It took seven years, and a move to venerable independent label Merge records, until the endless touring began paying off.
“We toured from 1994 to 2001 in front of no one,” Eno reveals. “Then, when we released Girls Can Tell, people started coming to our shows and starting liking our music.”
In 2005, with the release of Gimmie Fiction and a move to smoother, cleaner pop, the band entered a new musical phase that continues to this day. The band’s latest, Transference, is another pop gem. It’s lower key than Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga, but has the same infectious hooks and polished performances that’s marked the last couple of discs.
Its more stripped down sound is thanks to the band producing the record themselves. Despite Eno’s second career producing other bands, it’s the first time Spoon has worked this way themselves. The result, says Eno, is an album that’s “more us.”
“There’s no outside influences; no person who wants to put a stamp on it,” he says. “It’s how a Spoon record should be.”
Producing wasn’t necessarily easier though, especially when it came to listening back to the record. Eno says they were so involved in every aspect of the disc that it’s hard to know if the songs are any good by the end.
“We’re so deep into it,” he explains. “When you spend the amount of time we did making a record it’s hard to classify. Is it dirtier? Cleaner? Does it need more space? I think it’s dirtier and crunchier and maybe more in your face, though sparse could be another term.”