Spoon has been one of the most consistently solid indie-rock bands of the past 25 years.
Case in point: When compiling tracks for their greatest-hits album, “Everything Hits at Once: The Best Of Spoon,” the Austin-based band saved a slot for a new song from just last year: “No Bullets Spent.” It was a bold move, but the playfully dark tune fits in just fine among fun Spoon classics like “Don’t You Evah,” “The Underdog,” “Hot Thoughts,” “You Got Yr. Cherry Bomb” and “Got Nuffin,” which all made it onto the 13-track compilation.
Spoon visits the Bank of New Hampshire Pavilion in Gilford Friday at 6 p.m. along with Beck, Cage the Elephant and Sunflower Bean.
Jim Eno, a record producer and founding member and drummer of Spoon, filled us in on his greatest-hits favorites, threw up a torch for the ones that didn’t make the cut, and shed some light on that oddball conversation at the top of “Don’t You Evah.”
There were so many good choices for this greatest-hits record. Did Spoon ever consider a double album?
Britt (Daniel) had this idea that we would do a triple album. After going through all the songs, there were a lot that just sort of bubbled to the top. One indication of whether we thought a song basically stood the test of time is if it was still in our live show. We just figured that that’s a good indication that people can really relate to these songs. That was something that helped us weed through the three-disk initial set.
What about songs that aren’t played live?
If you look at “You Got Yr. Cherry Bomb,” we don’t play (that) a lot anymore, but we still feel like that was a good one to put on the greatest hits. We’re actually gonna try to start bringing that back live.
The other hard thing was also sequencing these songs. Once we got “I Turn My Camera On” first, things fell into place after that.
What else did you want on the album?
I’ve always liked that song “Metal Detector.” “Mountain To Sound,” which was on the Soft Effects EP — that’s a really cool one. Let’s see … “Fitted Shirt” isn’t on there. “Can I Sit Next To You?” — one of my favorite tracks. It was hard.
On “Don’t You Evah,” there’s a strange conversation at the beginning of the track. What was going on there?
This was when we used to record on tape. When you’re on tape, a lot of times you just don’t erase things. So when Britt (Daniel) was doing vocal tracks, you can hear, “Jim record that.” He wanted me to record the talk-back mic because Mike McCarthy, our producer, was saying a bunch of crazy (expletive) and he wanted to get it recorded. And then he’s saying “Bet, Bet,” — that’s the first syllable of the first word — he’s getting and finding pitch there. Then it just became this collage at the top of the song.
It’s hard to imagine that song without it.
If you were to clean that whole thing up and erase everything and make it super, super, slick, then it just wouldn’t have sounded as cool. And we even tried to mute a bunch of things, and it was just like, ‘Man, this doesn’t feel right.’
But we were also very used to all this chatter at the top of a song because you listen to the song hundreds of times. So it just became part of the song. So we tend to try to leave things in as much as we can. It adds to the character of the track.
Was the success of “The Underdog” a huge turning point for the band?
It was one of our bigger songs, but it wasn’t all over alternative radio. It wasn’t “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” It wasn’t a hit in that respect. What it felt like is just a song that connected with people.
Our trajectory throughout our career has always been very gradual. From 2001, when “Girls Can Tell” came out, from then on, that felt like a turning point in the band. And very slowly we kept gaining more and more fans.
So when “The Underdog” came out, it just felt like a progression of that. (It wasn’t as if we thought) “Oh, last time we played here, there were 1,500 people, now there’s 2,000.” It didn’t feel like anything monstrous happened, you know?’
Which Spoon album has the fondest memories for you?
“Girls Can Tell,” which was back in 2000. That was when things were pretty dark in the band because we had just gotten dropped from a major label. But it was the kind of thing that felt new and fresh to me. I felt like it was bringing these amazing songs into the studio. For a lot of that record it was ... just trying to figure a lot of stuff out, which was really, really fun. It was just a very fun experimental time for us.
How has your drumming style evolved?
That’s a tough one. I think about the best way to help the song be better, but not get in the way. Even if it’s a very simple beat, which I tend to lean towards, I’ll try to put a little bit of me in it so you could hear …. a little bit of a fill, that you’re like, “Oh yeah, that guy’s been playing that fill for 15 years.” So maybe it’s a style, or maybe I’m just not a very good drummer, who knows?
So as a producer, you know when to leave something in and when it should be tossed?
“Can I Sit Next To You?” (is) an amazing song, and that’s all drum machine. Then you hear a song like “Stay Don’t Go” that has this badass beatbox by Britt. I’m fine with not playing on songs, too. Something I learned a long time ago is it makes the album more varied and more interesting. So we constantly try to challenge ourselves and come up with different ways to have the rhythm section work for a song.