Few acts last as long as the indie-pop band Spoon has been around. The group, led by singer and lead songwriter Britt Daniel, formed 25 years ago in Austin, Texas, before the music business was thrown into an internet-induced death spiral.
Though the bandmates have weathered the changing tides of the business by touring extensively throughout the years, they haven't had the chance to spend much time in South Florida, says Jim Eno, drummer and the only remaining cofounding member along with Daniel. "We get a lot of requests to go down there," he says. "You always feel bad if you can't go to a certain region, so we're trying to be a little better with that and hit as many places as we can with this record." Spoon will play Revolution Live Sunday, March 11, in support of 2017's Hot Thoughts, which received nearly universal acclaim and marks Spoon's return to Matador Records, the label on which the band released its 1996 debut album, Telephono.
One of the reasons Spoon has kept its head above water during the music business' age of volatility is the fact that its members followed the independent model long before the era of downloading and streaming. Bands nowadays must support themselves through touring, and Spoon prioritized live shows even during the many early years when no one was familiar with the band. Eno, a former electrical engineer, didn't quit his day job until about a decade into the group's existence.
"We toured around for a while, with very few people coming to our shows," Eno remembers. "That's not anything new — all young bands do that. We toured for a good seven years or so with very [few] fans, but something happened around the early 2000s, when people just started hearing about us. It was more of a word-of-mouth thing. We never had any big radio hits... It felt like a really slow and gradual build. We still feel like there could be more people listening to our music, so we're always trying to play for different people and trying to get as many people out to the shows as possible. We want everyone to hear Spoon."
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Eno hesitates to speculate about Spoon's level of successful if the band had been formed now, but as the owner of the Austin recording studio Public Hi-Fi, where he's produced and mixed records for bands such as !!! and Heartless Bastards, he has some ideas.
"I think it's all about the same," he says. "I think everything is pretty relative. We had to fund our own record way back when, and I feel like bands nowadays have to do that. One difference I do see is that I feel like labels used to give recording money to bands — maybe not a lot, but they would give some recording money based on maybe demos or songs they'd heard. That really doesn't happen anymore, so as a producer and a studio owner, we're constantly trying to figure out ways to get records done, and it's very hard, but it's always been hard."
He sees plenty of similarities between the approach Spoon has taken from the beginning and what up-and-coming bands do now. "We always record and mix our records before we shop them around to a label, and we do that because then we can maintain as much control as possible. So we've been doing things like that from the very beginning... Nowadays, since bands don't have a label, they're sort of dealing with everything themselves. They're putting out music themselves, they're doing everything themselves, and then what labels are doing is looking and maybe picking up a few here or there. I feel like bands nowadays don't necessarily feel like a label is a guaranteed thing for them, but as musicians, we all love making music and we're all going to keep doing it."