When it comes to indie rock acts, few have been able to carve out a solid niche for themselves as well as Austin, Texas group, Spoon. As one of the longest running acts in indie rock (going for nearly 25 years strong), the band has gone through many artistic and lineup changes, yet has always managed to tap into great indie rock and experimental music with an instantly recognisable style.
A fine example of this is their most recent record, Hot Thoughts, which has been released to strong critical praise and promising commercial success, with the title track topping the American alternative charts, while the record has given them their highest chart success both across Europe and here in Australia (21).
Music Insight caught up with band member Alex Fischel as the band arrived in Australia for a limited tour of Sydney and Melbourne.
“It’s super exciting,” Fischel says of the album.
“So far, the response has been really great, [we’re] really excited with the way people are reacting to it, and we’re really excited to have people hear it.”
For Fischel, making Hot Thoughts was a very organic process, as the band experimented with new sounds and ideas, that eventually molded the sounds of the record.
“We didn’t really discuss it. We didn’t really sit down and say ‘we will make this kind of record,’” he explains.
“We just started. Looking back, the last song we did on They Want My Soul was 'Inside Out,' and listening back now I think you can hear that was a stepping stone for us to get to with Hot Thoughts. I think 'Inside Out' is more keyboard-driven, has more atmospheric stuff going on, and it’s a little bit more sound based. We started and then midway through kind of continued down that path.”
Fischel reckons the album is “really fun” to play live.
“It’s really cool to use these textures and sounds in that setting. To bring that to the table, everyone is feeling good about it,” he says.
The album was released through Matador Records, the label which helped the band release their debut album Telephoneo back in 1996.
“The Matador guys are really fun to hang out with” chuckles Fischel.
“When they heard the record they were really enthusiastic about it. You can’t buy that. You can’t buy enthusiasm. So, to feel that they were just as excited about it as we were, it felt like it would be the right match. So far, it’s been great.”
With the record out, the band has now switched their focus into touring, and fine-tuning their live show. Since completing their Australian tour, the group has now announced an extensive North American tour from April through September, touring with The New Pornographers, Cherry Glazerr and Belle and Sebastian. They will be playing at some iconic venues and events, from the Sloss Music & Arts Festival to the Hollywood Bowl.
“There’s a certain rhythm you get into when you start touring regularly,” Fischel says.
“There’s something about doing days and days of shows, and you’re on the bus, you just go and you start to get into a rhythm of the show, and that’s also when you start experimenting with the live presentation of the show. So, we’re looking forward to getting to that point. And right now, I think things sound pretty fucking good.”
It seems the response to the band’s live show has been just as positive as the response to the record itself.
“Obviously, you hope that [the record] does really well, and we’re working hard to try and made that happen. So far, we’ve gotten pretty great responses from people. We’re just going to get out there and play as many shows as we can. We’re gonna bring it.”
What’s most exciting is that despite many changes in the last few years (such as departure of one of its longest serving members Eric Harvey), the band has an aura of confidence about it, and that is showing in the music they’re putting out. Despite being one of the most recent members (joining only four years ago), Fischel gets the vibe.
“Everyone’s feeling really good about being a part of the project. Everyone is bringing their A-game, and making sure shit is popping. We’re in a good place.”
Hot Thoughts is out now.
Originally published in Music Insight, April 7, 2017. Read here.