The Weekly interview: Spoon drummer Jim Eno

Eno, back right, and Spoon play three nights at Brooklyn Bowl this week.
Photo: Tom Hines
Chris Bitonti

You guys are doing three straight nights here. Do you have anything special planned to make them different? Not quite yet. We haven’t really thought about that. We’ll probably be working in some new songs—right now, we’re only playing two or three live, but we’ll probably be playing at least two or three more by the time that comes up. So maybe we’ll be previewing a song or something there, but we’ll see how it goes.

Why did Spoon go on hiatus for four years? We’ve been working nonstop and going nonstop since 1994. We’d put out seven records up until 2010, and pretty much from the start all we’ve been doing is writing, recording, touring, writing, recording, touring, with pretty much no break either. It just felt like we needed to step back and do some other things, and when we felt like getting back at it we would call each other.

How did that conversation go? You produced a ton of records during the hiatus, so it’s not like you were struggling for work. Yeah, and that was awesome. That’s what I love to do, so I pretty much did that for three years straight. Britt [Daniel] was doing Divine Fits, Eric [Harvey] put out a solo record and Rob [Pope] opened a bar and got married, so we were all doing things and we were all really busy. But when it came time to start getting back together, we said, “Let’s start seeing what songs we have.” We were all really excited to get back.

Sounds like a healthy step away, to refresh for the next go-round. Exactly, it gives you a little perspective and makes you appreciate it a little more, just by getting away from it.

You just released the first new single, “Rent I Pay,” and R.I.P. seem like an ironic abbreviation for a band coming off hiatus. Was that intentional? Yeah, we just kept abbreviating it whenever we were talking about it or figuring out the track listing or in emails. It felt like a super-ballsy, tough-sounding Spoon song, so we felt like it would be a good thing to release first—the first recorded Spoon music anyone hears in four years is the gnarliest snare drum you’ve ever heard in your life.

So we thought, why not announce the single with a few things that say “R.I.P Spoon June 10th,” just to see what people thought. And it was funny, I was in Barcelona, sitting in a bar with one of our crew, and he was talking to some fans and they didn’t know I was sitting right there. They were like, “Oh, you work for Spoon? They’re breaking up on June 10.” (laughs)

Would you say your music has changed or evolved in a major way on the new record? I feel like our producer-slash-mixer Dave Fridmann added a lot to this record. I feel like he sort of pushed us a little bit out of our comfort zone. It’s a thicker record, tougher record, but to me the mixes are amazing. You can hear every instrument, but it sounds like a rock record. And it still sounds like Spoon.

As you mentioned, you guys have been going since 1994. And the musical landscape is so different now. Has anything changed for Spoon in that respect? From a songwriting standpoint, I feel like this record is probably the best songs Britt has written. And I would say that we listen to a lot of modern music, so we’re obviously going to be influenced by newer stuff as it comes out. I feel like that is probably creeping its way into our records.

But the bottom line is, we still sound like Spoon—we still sound like Girls Can Tell and A Series of Sneaks. I think maybe things are a little bit more refined, but I also feel like this one is a little wilder, too. We took some chances. There’s a swagger and a confidence to this record that is really important. I also think this is the type of record where you can put it on and tell we were having a lot of fun in the studio.

How do your years producing affect you as a musician working with a producer? I feel like everything rubs off, and I learn things from a lot of different people. I engineered a record by Alejandro Escovedo here in Austin, and the producer was Tony Visconti. He produced all that T. Rex, David Bowie stuff, and working with him, learning about different techniques, is going to rub off on my next project, whether it’s Spoon or whether its any other band.

Spoon with Babes (Thursday & Friday) and Harriet (Saturday). June 26-28, 8 p.m., $20-$35. Brooklyn Bowl, 702-862-2695.

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