Spoon's Daniel talks new band, NBA love
December, 12, 2012
By Andy Frye | ESPN.com
Rick Kern/Getty ImagesBritt Daniel, a longtime Dallas Mavericks fan, is now on tour with his new outfit, The Divine Fits.On Wednesday, The Divine Fits -- a super group composed of Britt Daniel (Spoon), Dan Boeckner (Wolf Parade and Handsome Furs), Sam Brown (New Bomb Turks) and keyboardist Alex Fischel -- resumes its touring schedule in Aspen, Colo., in support of their new album, “A Thing Called the Divine Fits."
The best part, singer Britt Daniel said of this new project, “is that we’ve become real good friends.” Daniel also had a lot to say about what is for him a totally new routine to making music.
“The major difference is that there’s another songwriter doing half the work and singing half the songs," he said. "That’s different for me because when I am putting together a Spoon record, that’s a lot of songs to fill out an album."
Daniel indicated that the new process of working with other accomplished musicians is not only refreshing but exhilarating, and the tunes show it. Their songs, such as “Would That Not Be Nice” and “Baby Get Worse” encompass a renewed cool vibe, still bearing familiarity to each artist’s earlier works. Brown’s strong, calm patter of drums sets a pace that lets the guitars and vocal talents of both Boeckner and Daniel cruise to newfangled heights. Meanwhile, the Divine Fits’ first take also features an eclectic mix, combining elements of the 1970s hard rock of T. Rex and David Bowie with hues of 1980s new wave music.
When it comes to conjuring up new songs that feel and sound good, the longtime Spoon frontman and songwriter talked about the control that most driven musicians possess.
“I wanted to give up that control. In the most cynical terms it is less work. But when I really believe in someone,” Daniel said of Boeckner and his musical talents, “I get behind that person and really like the process of backing them up.”
Daniel, who has lived in Austin, Texas, for the last 20 years, formed The Divine Fits with Boeckner, on the suggestion that they work artistically to combine the best elements of Wolf Parade and Spoon. Naturally, The Fits’ first live performances also took place in Austin late this summer, just before the album debuted.
Along with the new release and the live dates reaping rave reviews and a new legion of fans along the way, The Divine Fits also made their television debut in November on "The Late Show with David Letterman."
Nonetheless, this new outfit of veteran rockers has no signs of softening the beat.
After three stops within the Rocky Mountains en route to Australia and New Zealand, The Divine Fits are set to play a New Year’s Eve show in Las Vegas with The Black Keys.
“I know Patrick [Carney] of The Black Keys," Daniel said, "and we’ve run into each other a lot over the years. I’m guessing he was involved initially with getting us to play those shows. We’re kind of in our gravy period of touring where it’s easy and gets really fun.”
In talking about Austin as an intimate and “exciting small town," Daniel mentioned other aspects of his Texas upbringing and other passions outside of music.
“When I grew up, my dad lived in Dallas," he said, "so I was always up there and I was a huge Mavericks fan. ... I was a Mavs fan way before it was cool! Meaning back in the Detlef Schrempf era.
Ronald Martinez/Getty ImagesSpurs forward Matt Bonner is a friend of Britt Daniel.
“So when the Mavs won it all back in 2011, that was a thrill for me. It was just a long time coming, man. We [Mavericks fans] waited a long time for that one.”
Though he’s focused much more on music these days than anything else, Daniel does have an affinity for the NBA and keeps an eye on the hoops action, keeping in touch with his favorite players between notes.
“I know Matt Bonner of the Spurs," Daniel said. "He’s a huge music fan, and we met at the Austin City Limits Festival. He’s gotten me seats a couple times and we text each other now and then.”
Currently Daniel and his fellow Fits are focused on the experiment of a new sound. And during the 2012 tour, the band has been performing in smaller venues in what Daniel says creates a more lively, intimate atmosphere with a better sound. Existing fans of the members’ other musical projects are turning up along with newer, younger fans that Daniel said, “are a little skinnier and wear their clothes a little tighter." He points out, though, that much of the band’s core is made up of people who are heavily into music.
“For me the making of the record is the very most important thing we do as a band, but it’s not necessarily day after day the most fun part of it,” Daniel said. “But … touring is always strictly fun.”