The Spin Doctors release their first studio album in eleven years, Nice Talking to Me, on Tuesday. The album, which was a three-year project, puts the New York band back on the scene after frontman Chris Barron lost his voice due to vocal cord paralysis and the band called it quits.
When Barron’s voice recovered, the Spin Doctors’ original lineup — Barron, guitarist Eric Schenkman, bassist Mark White and drummer Aaron Comess — reunited in 2002, with admitted hesitation at the thought of a full-on reunion. “We put the band back together to do this show at this club in New York [Wetlands], where we played in the early days, and I had some trepidation,” says Barron. “I mean, we had broken up, and there was definitely some lingering acrimony among the members of the band.”
But once the one-time multi-platinum-selling band began performing together again, a new album became inevitable. “I don’t really know how to describe it other than in some kind of a cheesy cliche, but there was magic in the air,” Barron recounts. “Somewhere along the line we were like, ‘This is really fun. Let’s make a record.'”
Nice Talking finds the rockers back in form with tracks like “Margarita,” which Barron says deals with the “lighter side of divorce.” But the song “Can’t Kick the Habit” is a pop-y departure from their early-Nineties jam-band sound.
Following the reunion gig at Wetlands — where the band recorded their debut EP, Up for Grabs, in 1991 — the band hooked up with producer Matt Wallace (Sheryl Crow, Blues Traveler), who was fresh off the success of Maroon 5’s debut, and went to L.A. to record Nice Talking.
“It was great working with Matt because everybody in the band really respected him — and we’re like four really different people,” confesses Barron. “It was nice to have someone who was an umpire and someone to keep the overall vision of the record. Then everyone could just concentrate on just doing their thing.
“We’d start with a song and we’d play it acoustic,” he continues. “We would just work these songs from the ground up. It’s easy to just turn up the amplifiers, blast and just fake it. But when you have an acoustic guitar and the drummer is slapping his knee and the singer singing, you know when the song is happening.”