Spoon frontman Britt Daniel, drummer Jim Eno, and guitarist Alex Fischel sat down in our SiriusXM studios for a recent episode of Rolling Stone Music Now, where they broke down the making of songs from throughout their career, going inside their new greatest-hits compilation, Everything Hits At Once: The Best of Spoon. Some highlights follow; to hear the entire discussion, press play below or download and subscribe on iTunes or Spotify.
Elvis Costello and Motown helped Spoon entirely reinvent their sound between their second and third albums.
“We didn’t think anything was cooler than Wire,” says Daniel. “And we didn’t really want to move beyond that. The summer that [second album] A Series of Sneaks came out. My girlfriend Eleanor [Friedberger] had this tape of Get Happy by Elvis Costello, and I’d never heard that record. And so I started making all these connections between New Wave and Motown and the oldies radio station, which became the only station I wanted to listen to for some reason. And all those things kind of combined into this new sound that Girls Can Tell became.”
“The Way We Get By” was built around the piano part.
“The piano was the same part on the demo,” says Daniel. “And I think we just started that one out just recording the piano and then Jim recorded his thing. That was the way we were doing things on that record [2002’s Kill the Moonlight] because I think we recorded it in three actual weeks of recording.”
“Don’t You Evah” is actually a cover song.
“That’s a song by the Natural History, a band from New York,” says Daniel. “And we toured with them a number of times in the early 2000s, and became good friends with them. And so I was writing [2005’s] Gimme Fiction when Max [Tepper], the main songwriter, was writing his next record. And so we would trade tapes, just to hear what the other person’s thinking about or working on. And he sent me a few songs, and I think I liked all of them. But that was my favorite. And I decided to put some percussion on it and some guitar ideas and send it back to him. And I was like, that’s the one, but two years later, that song still had never come out. They had trouble with the band, and they had trouble just finishing the record, maybe finding a label. And so when we were working on Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga, we needed another song as we always do. And I said, I know this one that’s a hit and nobody else knows!”
They had no idea “The Underdog” would be a big song for them.
“We almost left it off the record,” says Daniel. “The rest of the album was more like dub-y, with reverb, lots of effects. [Producer Jon Brion] brought a lot to that recording; he played bass on that and he played that baritone guitar. He’s the closest thing to a Prince-like musician that I’ve been around personally.”
It took a while to get “You Got Yr Cherry Bomb” right.
The band first recorded a “space-rock” version with Brion that didn’t work, and then came up with a piano-based arrangement that their other producer, Mike McCarthy, didn’t like. “And then I did a writing trip out in the coast of Oregon by myself for a week,” says Daniel, “and listened to the best of the Supremes as I was driving out there, and I was like, ‘That’s got to be something there.’ So I’m kind of made it more of that kind of group.”
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