Spoon returns to a less polished sound on latest offering Transference

:: Spoon ::
:: Ogden Theatre :: April 5 and 6 ::

By Timothy Dwenger

Spoon is back. Not just back on the road, or back on the radio, but back up to their old tricks. For those who thought that 2007’s Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga was too produced, or “mainstream,” their new record Transference is a return to form for the indie stalwarts. From the typically edgy guitar to some lo-fi production techniques, Spoon has delivered a batch of tunes that are sure to please long-time fans and newcomers alike.

The album opens with a staccato drum beat and a few sustained keyboard notes that drop out and seem to pull the curtain back on Brit Daniel’s faraway vocal and loosely tuned guitar. Throughout the record, Spoon uses this kind of blending of highly refined parts with the kind of lo-fi magic that made them famous. “We wanted this record to be a little rough around the edges, and a little challenging,” said bassist Rob Pope when The Marquee caught up with him by phone from the streets of New Orleans. “That was the kind of vibe we were going for with this record; a little more in-your-face and not super clean. I hear some bands on the radio these days and I wonder how much they actually have to do with their own record anymore, you know? We wanted to make ours sound like it was made by humans!”

Another prime example of this approach is the track “Trouble,” which opens with lo-fi guitar strumming before the rhythm section explodes onto the scene. “That was the third time Jim and I had ever played the song,” explained Pope as he discussed how they captured the raw energy that makes the song so appealing. “The bass and drums are two mic four-track recordings that were pulled from a recording of a practice session.”

In another move that isn’t quite as subtle, and has drawn lots of attention, the band chose to abruptly end one of the stand-out tracks on the album seemingly mid-song. “We were kicking the idea around of how to end ‘Mystery Zone’ for a long time and we couldn’t ever really come to an agreement.” Pope said. “It’s such a weird and abrasive way to end the song on the CD that it gets brought up all the time. ‘Is there a glitch on your CD man?’ Nope, that was intentional. It was just one of those things; we really wanted that human element.”

It is interesting to note that the band ditched the abrasive ending on the vinyl version of Transference in favor of an extended version of “Mystery Zone” that may seem more “complete” to many. “We thought that would be a special thing for the vinyl,” explained Pope before he went on to talk about his own love for vinyl. “We all buy records like crazy, I don’t really buy CDs anymore, if it’s available on vinyl then that’s how I’m gonna do it,” said Pope. “I need to go pick up one of those portable record players so we can DJ to ourselves backstage. I did that on a tour last year and it was really fun because it encourages us.  You bring in one of those record players and it makes the backstage room feel more like a living room.”

This spring, one of those backstage rooms that Pope and his bandmates in Spoon will be trying to make feel more like a living room will be at the legendary Radio City Music Hall in New York City. It’s a place they never thought they would play and they have sold it out well in advance.  “You know, from the time I started playing music to the time I was playing with this band, it was unfathomable. Even in my own head, months ago, when I first heard about Radio City, I said, ‘What?  No way! Are we crazy? How are we going to fill that place,’” Pope exclaimed when asked about the Radio City sell-out. “Playing on Saturday Night Live, or playing on Letterman seemed like something I would never ever do. But now we’ve played Letterman three times or something. It’s kind of mind blowing because we never anticipated doing this kind of stuff and it’s amazing. We’ve been working really hard and it is definitely a nice little pay off.”

Fortunately for the band, ticket sales are doing extremely well on just about every stop of the tour and it’s not just the New York date that has sold out. It is definitely a nice reward for a hardworking group of unassuming musicians who are fueled by a love for the art form. It has become clear that whether it is polished and smooth or raw and edgy, Spoon’s unique music has cultivated a devoted audience who will follow the band down just about any road they choose.

:: Spoon ::

:: Ogden Theatre :: April 5 and 6 ::

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