On the sofa with Spoon’s Britt Daniel

Three decades after forming, Austin five-piece Spoon continue to go from strength to strength. Their tenth album, last year’s Lucifer on the Sofa, stirred up mass critical acclaim and earned them their first Grammy nomination. Now after touring the record across the world for the past year, Spoon will bring the new music to Australian audiences on a national tour with The War On Drugs, hitting Kings Park on Monday, December 11. MICHAEL HOLLICK caught up with frontman Britt Daniel to find out what life has been like on the road this year, what songs Spoon always look to include in their big shows and what rock moves the band has been practicing before their upcoming trip down under.

Spoon have been out on the road for most of 2023. How has that been? What has the audience’s reaction been like?

The crowds have been great, super receptive. On our current American tour some of the shows are with Weezer, so we’re playing to their crowd. Like last night we were in Venn, Oregon, with them and we played to a lot more people than if it was just us headlining. But there were still a lot of people in the front singing along to our tunes.

What does it feel like when you see people singing along to your songs?

It’s nice, it really is. It’s definitely better than the alternative! When you go out there and you see people singing along, it makes you feel like “okay, we’re connecting in some way” and that inspires you to play better. 

As you mentioned, you’re doing arena sized shows with Weezer at the moment, and then when you come out to Australia in December, you’ll also be playing some very large arena type venues with The War On Drugs. How do you find being an arena band?

You could say that we’re an ‘arena’ band, but of course it’s not totally our gig, so that could be a little misleading. Regardless, we can definitely do those shows, we can pull them off. And not just here in the US either. In the summer, we went to Europe and played some massive shows with The Black Keys, like 20,000 people plus at the London O2 Arena. So it’s fun to know we can do it. 

What tricks do you pull out for these ‘arena’ shows

It’s a different setlist for sure. When it’s your own headlining show you get more time and so we try to play some rarities. We try that regardless, but those deeper cuts do come off stronger at our own shows. Like when we opened for Weezer last night, we pulled out all the stops and played as many songs as we think people might know. Like we played Underdog, Inside Out, I Turn My Camera On for sure. All the ones we think are our best known songs. 

Do you have any stage moves to help you out in the arena shows?

I only have a couple moves, but Alex [Fischel] definitely has a few. Actually, Alex was trying to pull off a move just two nights ago at a gig in Spokane Washington. He got on top of a monitor and fell backwards onto his butt. So strong moves, but they don’t always work.

It’s how you deal with it though. That’s what makes a move rock though isn’t it?

Well the next morning Alex put a video he found of him falling over backwards on our Instagram. He put it to some sort of classical music and put it in slow motion to make it really epic, so he runs with it well. 

Speaking of just keeping on trucking, that is something that I really associate with Spoon. You guys are nearing your third decade as a group, which is quite an achievement. What’s the secret?

I don’t know really how but I think it has something to do with continuing to always really search for magic. I do feel like there are bands that are out there who only seem to keep going so as to pay the rent. Personally, I am always pretty worried about putting out a record that is not so good. I just won’t do it, and it’s the same for the rest of the band. So we will work on something constantly till we get it in the right place. 

Talking of looking for magic, if you look at the current musical landscapes are there things you think are really awesome? 

I do love what IDLES are doing. Every time I get to see them I get excited about rock and roll again. Very inspiring. Then there’s that Arlo Parkes record that came out a couple of years ago. And there’s a guy named Theo Lawerence, a French Cowboy, he’s making great music right now. I think Big Thief is doing something really special. They’re amazing. There’s tonnes of great music being made at the moment.

Looking forward to the future, do you have things booked in after the Australian tour in December?

Not really. I have to get some songs written. I am not sure what it will be next. I am definitely on the kick of doing songs that are ‘busk-able.’ We went through a phase where I would do a lot of stuff and make tracks with computers and kind of form a song from them but now I am kind of back to where I started out which is sitting on a floor with a guitar and banging on that guitar till something happens. It’s a little more organic.