The title track from Spoon’s new album, Hot Thoughts (released in March via Matador), is arguably the steamiest 230 seconds the band has recorded to date. Frontman Britt Daniel is the man on the mic delivering active, angsty laments about being uptight and twisting inside (“hot thoughts all in my mind/and all of the time,” Daniel, 46, sings in the pre-chorus), but his partner in crime, Spoon drummer and co-founder Jim Eno, is actually the band’s resident sexpert.
“I think that was like a jet lag comment that I rolled with or something,” Eno, 51, says with a laugh when an interview with Sydney, Australia’s FBi radio comes up. “It’s all good. I’ll consider myself the resident sexpert even though I’m married.”
It’s a brief moment of levity during CL’s 20-minute chat with the legendary drummer and record producer who phoned in before soundcheck for a show in Mexico City. It’s not like Eno is a super serious guy. It’s just that he’s probably got a million things running through his mind as he gives remarkably candid, sharp responses to every inquiry lobbed at him over the phone. Eno has produced or played on what feels like thousands of records across nearly every subgenre of rock. His name appears in the credits for artists like Alejandro Escovedo, Future Islands, Black Joe Lewis and Courtney Barnett to name just a few. Along with Daniel, Eno is Spoon’s longest tenured member, and a talk with him is like walking into a vault where the nuances of Spoon’s incredible 20-year-old discography lay waiting to be explored.
Hot Thoughts — much like the rest of the band’s eight other full-lengths — is an exercise in calculated brevity. Its 41 minutes are, predictably, almost perfect. Spoon’s own penchant for adding new layers to an already polished, dialed-in sound is its self-inflicted scourge; fans have come to expect excellence from Eno & co. at every turn. The band manages to deliver in spades on this new record, but the ten tracks feel distinctly different, too. Hot Thoughts is the first Spoon LP in a decade without guitarist/keyboard player Eric Harvey, and it’s the first one recorded exclusively with Flaming Lips producer Dave Fridmann, who invited the band to work on the LP at his isolated upstate New York studio.
“We go there to be with Dave because he’s great, so I feel like the isolated environment doesn’t really affect us that much,” Eno said about the recording sessions. “As far as it being an active, hot and exciting record, I think a lot of that is us trying to keep working and making sure every song is as good as it can be.”
Hot Thoughts features ambient horns (album closer “Us”), distorted synth layered into boom-bap drums (“Do I Have To Talk You Into It”) and even some bells, strings and panned percussion on meditative LP highlight “Pink Up.” Guitarist/keyboard player Alex Fischel — who joined Spoon in 2013 — also got in on the action by writing the music for disco-rocker “First Caress” before Daniel added words to dance on top of the song’s tumbling piano lines and Eno’s hybrid acoustic and electronic drums.
“I feel like Britt’s songwriting is always just getting better and better,” Eno said. “But Alex is a monster. Amazing keyboard player, he is a great guitar player and the thing that he brings to the live show is like raw, raw energy.”
Fischel will be flanked by an even newer guitar and keyboard player, Gerardo Larios, at the Ybor City show on May 1, and while they’ve only been playing with him since January, Eno said Larios’ aggressive approach to guitar fits Spoon’s attitude towards its own live show. The band is spending the days before the upcoming tour working through songs from Hot Thoughts. Fans won’t hear “Shotgun” (it’s throwing the band for a loop, Eno admitted), but they can count seeing another album highlight, “I Ain’t The One,” for which Eno has employed a snare trigger that will deliver an electronic sound similar to what’s on the record.
“So far things have been good,” Eno said about the rehearsals. “I feel like ‘I Ain’t The One’ is coming together as good and even better live than on the recorded version. ‘First Caress’ and ‘Do I Have To Talk You Into It’ are great. We’re going to try and tackle ‘Pink Up,” and that is going to be a little bit of a challenge since there are so many things going on with that one — we’ll see how that goes.”
All this bravery and need to evolve their live show is a Spoon hallmark, and the band — which has been able to create some income thanks to past placements in film and television — extends the progressivism to how they run the band in a world where streaming revenues represent a fraction of what album sales and downloads once provided.
“In the music business you have to look for any kind of income. Any little bit you can get helps pay the rent, fix the van, help us go on tour, that kind of thing.” Eno said, adding that even licensing has become more competitive as programmers have started asking for unreleased material to soundtrack their shows. Spoon even recently worked with Skrillex and Diplo, a pair of DJs who Eno admits move at a pace that Spoon has tried to emulate in the past.
“We try and then we’re like, ‘This can be better,’ or, ‘We’ve done this before, so let’s try something new. All of a sudden it’s a year later when we’re finally happy. It’s just not a way that we make records, it just takes a long time for us, unfortunately,” Eno said.
There’s nothing unfortunate about it, actually, and a lyric from “Pink Up” explains the band’s allure quite well. “Everything you think we are, we are,” Daniel sings on the track, “we come to mesmerize/everything you feel/time is gonna come.” Well, the time for Hot Thoughts is now — you can bet it’ll be a steamy night in Ybor when it all goes down.
Get more informatino on the show via local.cltampa.com, and listen to all of Hot Thoughts below.