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Spoon bringing new music to Englert in Iowa City
Austin, Texas, band shifting toward wild, colorful sounds
A few weeks before the release of Spoon’s terrific debut album, “Telephono,” the indie-rock band previewed tracks from the album at a memorable Matador Records showcase at the 1996 South By Southwest festival in Austin, Texas.
Spoon was on a dream bill with Liz Phair, Chavez, Silkworm and headliner Guided by Voices. Some of the bands and the venue, Liberty Lunch, do not exist anymore. However, Spoon is standing.
“I still remember that show,” drummer Jim Eno said. “We were just getting started and it was such a great lineup. That’s a reflection on Matador, which always has had such amazing recording artists.”
If you go
Where: Englert Theatre, 221 E. Washington St., Iowa City
When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, July 16, 2022
Tickets: Limited availability, $35 to $69; englert.org/event/spoon/
Band’s website: spoontheband.com/
More than a quarter century later, Spoon remains part of Matador, which released the band’s latest album, “Lucifer on the Sofa,” in February.
“We’ve kept this together because we love it,” Eno said by phone from his Austin home.
Eno and singer-songwriter-guitarist Britt Daniel formed Spoon in 1993. Three decades and 10 albums later, the band remains as vital as it was during its salad days.
“Britt still has so much to say and he’s just a tremendous writer,” Eno said. “When I hear him play new songs he still blows me away. He’s always finding inspiration.”
Even though Daniel has been crafting quirky psychedelic rock for most of Spoon’s career, his creativity is often from classic rock. Daniel and Eno immersed themselves in early ZZ Top and Creedence Clearwater Revival while preparing and working on their latest project.
“We’re just fans of those types of records,” Eno said. “Some people should be surprised, but they shouldn’t be taken aback by that.”
Spoon, which will play Saturday at the Englert Theatre in Iowa City, also has covered Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers’ “Breakdown” and “A Face in the Crowd.”
“Why not listen and sometimes play and record great songs from our heroes,” Eno said.
The tracks from “Lucifer on the Sofa” are guitar-driven and the album has some unexpected anthems, like the infectious “Wild,” which was co-written by professional hitmaker Jack Antonoff. He’s worked with Taylor Swift and Lorde, when not fronting Bleachers.
“We had a different approach with this album,” Eno said. “We learned the songs before we recorded them, and that made a huge difference.”
Before the advent of YouTube, bands often would work out songs live before heading to the studio. Today, many recording artists are reluctant to preview material, since it will end up all over the internet before the album is recorded.
“It’s all true,” Eno said. “We used to play our material out, but things changed once songs ended up on YouTube. The songs become old by the time the album comes out. But we’re locked in and we’re looking forward to playing these new songs on the road with our band.”
It helped that Spoon recorded in Eno’s home studio, Public Hi-Fi. The state-of-the-art facility has been utilized by such artists as Arcade Fire, The Shins and Lady Gaga.
“It's a great place to make a record,” Eno said. “It really worked out, since Britt came back to Austin. It was a very comfortable situation since I’ve had the studio for years (since 2005).”
Eno is pleased with the band’s latest addition, bassist Ben Trokan.
“It’s great with Ben who joined us not long ago (2021),” Eno said. “Benny is more of a soul guy, so he adds a lot and (keyboardist-guitarist) Alex (Fischel) has elevated our live shows and (guitarist) Gerardo (Larios) is rock-solid. We’re in a good place right now.”
According to Eno, that’s because he and Daniel are friends before anything else.
“We get along,” he said. “The whole recording process of this album was like going back to summer camp with your pal. That’s why it works and it’s still such a great time when we’re on the road. You’ll see that when we come to town.”