Spoon have announced details of their first London show in five years, with frontman Britt Daniel talking to NME about their forthcoming tour with The Black Keys, covering David Bowie and how he should have ended up in the Meet Me In The Bathroom documentary.
The Texas indie veterans will be performing at London’s Islington Assembly Hall on June 20 as a one-off headline show in support of their Grammy-nominated 2022 album ‘Lucifer On The Sofa’, and ahead of their UK arena tour with The Black Keys.
“It’s just been too long since we played in London,” Daniel told NME. “Alex [Fischel, keys and guitar] and I were over there last year doing some acoustic things in shops but I think we can all agree that five years have gone by since Spoon played a gig in London, and that’s too long.”
We caught up with Daniel, to talk about the show, the arena tour, Bowie, indie legacy and more.
NME: Hello Britt. The London show has just been announced, and we understand you’re requesting that fans bring flowers for bassist and keyboardist Ben Trokan.
Britt: “Yeah, it’s his birthday. I’m hoping he doesn’t hear about that and he’s just inundated with flowers being thrown at him during the show.”
How do you get on with The Black Keys?
“My other band Divine Fits did some shows with them and I’ve known Patrick [Carney, drummer] for some time. I don’t really know Dan [Auerbach, singer] very well but I knew Patrick before they blew up and he’s always been a good dude with a lot of varied interests in music and we’ve always been in touch.”
Do you enjoy playing arena shows?
“Yeah. It’s a different kind of gig but there’s something cool about any type of gig you play in my book. You’re not gonna get an intimate connection with an audience at a festival gig or an arena gig but there’s something about playing in front of that many people and the type of energy that puts out that is a real event.”
You moved back to Austin a few years ago – did you find a lot of inspiration at this year’s SXSW?
“I was there until Saturday. We played a couple of times and I sang with another band, this local band called The Giant Dog. So I got a good bit of it, just missed the last couple of days. A lot of good bands came through. I ended up seeing a lot of local bands but I did see some touring bands as well. To me, maybe the main reason I live in Austin is because the music scene at night is thick with talent. I get out there as often as I can, it makes me want to do music.”
You recently released a live cover of Bowie’s ‘I Can’t Give Everything Away’, the last track on his final ‘Blackstar’. Why that song?
“That’s a song that Alex and I had been playing because we do these duo shows every now and again.I guess it was in 2016 we played a show like that in Mexico City right after Bowie had died, and I had a feeling I could do something with that song. I listen to our version of the song and his version of the song; of course his version is amazing but I feel like Alex brought something to this presentation of the song that’s really special.
“We’ve been playing it since then and we recorded it live in LA about a year and a half ago now. It’s a fantastic song. You don’t want to cover songs that are perfect and I thought the words and melody of that one were just about perfect but I thought there was something we could add to it.”
How have Spoon managed to grow in respect over almost 30 years?
“Yeah, we’re very respected, very respected in England… We always make these perfect records. I think it’s something about the quality of the music, maybe everybody thinks that but I think we might have a pretty strong case for it.”
Is it better to do that than be tied to any one scene or era?
“I reckon so. It’s just the way that it’s happened. We’re a band with a very unusual trajectory. Our first couple of records were fabulously unsuccessful around the world but especially in America, where we should have done better. Then suddenly something happened on the third one, way, way into our career, where people started coming to shows. And then it very, very slowly built for the next 10 years. I don’t feel like I see that very often anymore. People come out with a splash. We had no splash. I guess when you’re tied to a scene it’s less about the music, right?”
The Meet Me In The Bathroom documentary is out, what did you make of that scene?
“That’s a scene I really admire and love. I was in New York City in ’98, ’99 and then I moved back to Austin. I feel like if I had convinced Jim [Eno, drummer] to come up to New York or if I had a few more bucks and I could afford to live in New York I might’ve been in that movie, who knows?
“I do really love The Strokes and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and LCD, and when that came around it was at the tail end of a really bad period of music. I remember in ’97, ’98, ’99, when rap metal was considered alternative, and that’s what was playing on even college radio in America. I just didn’t know what the fuck was happening, I didn’t feel like I could relate. Clearly the music that I was making at that time, the first couple of records, were not accepted in that world. Somehow real rock’n’roll came around. There’s good waves and bad waves and definitely that Meet Me In The Bathroom era was a great wave.”
You’ve toured with Interpol and recently played with them on stage – any plans for a collaboration or supergroup?
“We toured with them in ’05 and then this last year. I’ll say that their fans are intense, very intense. They are on the look-out for that band at any moment. They tell me that they’ve never had anyone up onstage with them before. I would love to do more with them and I keep in pretty good touch with Daniel [Kessler, guitar] and Paul [Banks], so I wouldn’t say it’s out of the question. Who knows?”
Tickets to Spoon’s show at Islington Assembly Hall go on sale on Thursday March 23 and will be available here. See the band’s full tour dates below, and visit here for tickets and more information on The Black Keys’ dates.
Tuesday 20 – London, Islington Assembly Hall
Wednesday 21 – London, The O2*
Thursday 22 – Manchester, AO Arena*
Saturday 24 – Glasgow, OVO Hydro*
*Supporting The Black Keys