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Playing Spoon

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Whe Hives, The Vines, The Strokes, The White Stripes . . . Isn’t anybody just a noun anymore? Thank god for Spoon, a band that rocks just as well, but with more subtlety, and no obnoxious affectation. (Maybe that just comes with maturity — they’ve been around since 1996.) Think Bush’s Gavin Rossdale singing the quieter, quirkier, more romantic songs you wish he’d sing. I’ve had a long-time crush on Gavin (it’s all about the music, I swear), so when I first heard Spoon’s frontman Britt Daniel sing on their latest album Kill the Moonlight, I fell hard. Figuring I could joke around, ask some probing questions, even flirt a little, I jumped at the chance to interview him. But when the time came, getting him to talk about love and sex was like getting Woody Allen not to. Hitting on him was even harder. It turns out, Britt don’t play that. Fortunately, what he lacks in romantic taste, he makes up for in musical taste: Spoon is one of the best bands around, even despite my broken heart.


Your P.R. guy said you might be a little nervous about this interview.
No, I’m not nervous. I just said to go easy on me.

Well, I’ll try to be gentle. I’m not going to get into the gory details, but feel free to pass on any question, like you’re on “Family Feud.”
Okay, that’s cool.

So why don’t we get the hard part over first. Do you have a girlfriend?
No, I don’t right now.

Do you want one?
I’ve been a bit lonely.

Because I feel like I fell in love with you when I listened to this album.
[laughs]

Really, your voice, the music — it’s so damn romantic that it breaks my heart, but at the same time I can still dance to it.
Well, that’s great. That’s a cool reaction.

Have you ever felt like that, been so inspired by someone’s art or talent that you developed a crush?
Yeah. Malcolm X for instance.

Really?
No.

So I was curious why you used to perform under the pseudonym Drake Tungsten?
I think I just wanted a more entertaining name.

I think Britt Daniel is such a rock star name, no?
Yeah, well, I’m starting to come around to it.

Are you looking forward to your tour?
Oh yeah. I’m totally looking forward to getting out.

Because you’ve been cooped up recording, orÂ…?
Well, just been cooped doing band business here in Texas for the last couple of months, and it’s kind of cool to get on the road and be out of touch from a phone call — I mean, I guess we can still get phone calls, but there can’t be as many expectations of you in terms of all of the things you got to do every day. It’s just mostly find somewhere to get breakfast, drive for a really long time and then do a show. Those are the main responsibilities of the day. And those are pretty fun.

And you’re from Texas originally?
Yeah. I grew up here.

How come you don’t have an accent?
Smart people don’t.

I’ve never been to Austin, and my only point of reference is — sadly — “Reality Bites.” Can you—
That’s set in Houston, I believe.

Ooops.
“Slackers” was set here.

Well, I’ve seen that too! How would you describe Austin as a city compared to, say, New York?
When you’re in New York, it just seems like it’s kind of a struggle every day. But it’s a great struggle. Austin is more
 . . . it’s easier to just get by.

One of my favorite songs on the album is “Jonathan Fisk,” the one about the bully. Did you get beaten up as a little kid?
Well, I didn’t have the excuse of being a little kid. I was more like a thirteen year old, fourteen year old. It didn’t happen all the time, but, yeah, that is based on a real dude who would harass me on the way home from school in middle school.

Did you ever get revenge?
Yes. He came to all of our shows for about two or three years. And one of his main complaints with me as a kid was that the music that I listened to was wimpy or indicative of me being a fairy.

But now he’s a fan?
Well, I haven’t seen him in a while. But he definitely was a fan. He chilled out. You know, people grow up. I’m sure I wasn’t the most mature little thirteen year old. But I didn’t go out and beat people up because they didn’t listen to Ozzy Osbourne either.

The song “Fitted Shirt” on your last album rued how difficult it is to find a decent shirt that fits nicely: do you like to wear body conscious attire?
I like to wear a tight shirt. Tight pants. It just looks better.

When you play live, do you inspire more schoolgirl crushes than hardcore groupies?
Well yeah, I definitely don’t see any girls that look like they should be at Motley Crue shows.

No panties being thrown?
No.

Never?
One time somebody lifted up her shirt and thought that would be a way to get us to play a song that she wanted to hear.

Did it work?
No.

Glad to hear it.
I probably would have, but it was a really old song and we didn’t know it. It was a nice gesture, but one that made us all a little uncomfortable.

Do you ever do it to your own music?
No. I haven’t. That would be weird.

Yeah, I would think so. But some people love the sound of their own voice.
I like the sound of my voice and I do like to listen to our records. I know so many musicians who can’t, but if they don’t like their own record, I wonder what they’re doing it for. So, in short, I do like to listen to my own music, but I haven’t under those circumstances, and I doubt I will. It would be too ego.

I’m just going to shoot off some of the short-answer questions from our Personals site: What’s the last great book you read?
Songwriters on Songwriting by Paul Zollo.

Most humbling moment?
I don’t know if I can think of anything . . .

This can be something really traumatic like being born, or something really embarrassing, like maybe getting beaten up by that kid.
Yeah. Getting beat up for not listening to Iron Maiden.

Celebrity you resemble most.
Pardon?

Do people ever tell you you look like somebody?
[long pause] Pink.

The song or album that puts you in the mood.
Um . . . [long pause]

Well, we know it’s not your own.
Yeah, exactly. How about the first Damned album.

Okay. Who you’re looking for?
[long pause] Pass.

Spoon’s new album Kill the Moonlight is out now on Merge Records. Check it out here.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Lorelei Sharkey Lorelei has written for Glamour, Men’s Journal, The Guardian (U.K.), Details and the Boston Phoenix. She and her evil twin Emma Taylor write Nerve’s weekly horoscopes and sex advice columns. They’ve also written Nerve’s two original books, “The Big Bang” (out now) and “Nerve’s Guide to Sex Etiquette” (forthcoming Winter ’04). Some of Lorelei’s specific qualifications for her residency at Nerve (since 1998) include early-’80s short stories inspired by the “good parts” of secretly-bought romance novels and an eleventh-grade English term paper on Lady Chatterly’s Lover.