Last Friday Texas legends Spoon released their 9th studio record Hot Thoughts, the truly experimental and seductive follow up to their 2015 album They Wan My Soul. Our Sydney based photographer extraordinaire Annette Geneva put down the lens and picked up the phone to have a chat with Alex Fischel, the bands’ keyboardist and guitarist, about his new connections with the band, his superhuman immunity to jet-lag and his love for all things creepy-crawly in the Australian Outback.
AG : I’m okay, thanks! Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to me today and also congratulations on releasing a new album
AF: Thank you so much!
AG: So, what have you been up to since landing in Australia?
AF: We landed yesterday morning, I got to my room, I took a nap, went for a run and had some ramen at night and that’s pretty much it. This morning we had breakfast around the corner somewhere, I forget what it was called and went for another run and here we are.
AG: That’s a lot of running!
AF: Yeah that’s a lot of running! I had a lot of energy
AG: I’m surprised, you are supposed to be jet lagged !
AF: I know, right, but for some reason its not affecting me very much right now, but maybe in like 5 hours I’m going to crash, but hopefully not.
AG: Alright, I’m going to ask you some questions about the new record, and I’m really interested to know- what was the creative process of making this album like, what with Eric’s departure and your own increased involvement with it?
AF: The first time I worked on a record with the band, was during SXSW actually in 2015. Britt and I got together at his place and the first song that we worked on was “I Ain’t the One”. He’d written it on an acoustic guitar it was kinda like, you know, like a ‘Johnny Cash’ vibe kinda song. And we were kinda thinking like: how else can we do this- and we’ve been out, you know, drinking and hanging out. And we got back to his place late one night and kinda just…the way you hear it on the record is kinda where we ended up with it, I think actually he had recorded us playing it together on a little hand held recorder. We actually took a little chunk of that and now it’s actually on the proper recording. That was kinda like how we got the ball rolling, I guess.
AG: How did you feel having a more major part in recording of an album, since the last one?
AF: It feels great, its really cool to be working with these guys. I was a fan of Spoon records before I met Britt, so its really cool to be involved and have my voice heard.
AG: The new record Hot Thoughts is very experimental sounding, it’s quite spacey and seductive. I Ain’t the One was actually my favourite song on it from first listen. How do you feel the band has grown from the last record to this one? I noticed that Outlier off They Want My Soul is a very similar song to this whole new record…
AF: The way I kinda see it is…hmm…Outlier.. I haven’t thought about it, but that’s a great point! The way I was thinking about it was … the last song we worked on They Want My Soul was Inside Out , which was really keyboard-driven and a bit more atmospheric than the other tracks on the record, so I think we were all kind of drawn to that, to the experience of working on it. We were all very excited about the way it turned out and it was really fun to play live, so I think we just kinda picked up where we left off and continued down that road without really discussing it. It kinda formed the process of making this record.
AG: Wow! thats really interesting to know. This is my first interview by the way…
AF: Oh really?
AG: Yeah, phone interviews make me super nervous, so I’m sorry for that !
AF: You are doing great, don’t worry, you are doing great!
AG: Thank you! You are in Australia for just a short promo visit. Two shows and two record store performances. Can we expect Spoon to come back with a proper tour anytime soon?
AF: Certainly! I know that we do have some stuff in the works, but I don’t know if anything has been nailed down yet. I know we do love to come down here and we are definitely hoping that we can again and do a, you know, a proper run of shows.
AG: Speaking of Australia, you’ve been here twice before, right? With Spoon and with Divine Fits. Do you have any funny stories or a memory about being here from previous visits you wouldn’t mind sharing?
AF: That’s a tough one. I remember being shocked at how, well not shocked but…it was amazing how everyone seemed to be having a great time and everyone seemed to be, you know, happier than maybe they would be in the United States. Everyone seems to be enjoying themselves. I noticed that Australians know how to have a good time! Barely a funny story, but was fun to experience!
AG: Is there anything in particular you would like to do while you are in Australia now, or maybe on your next tour?
AF: I know everyone goes nuts for holding a koala. I got to do that one on a Divine Fits tour. I’d like to have some time off so I could, you know, go to the Outback. That would be awesome!
AG: Wow! The Outback!
AF: That’d be cool, right?
AG: Yeah, it would be I guess. It’s very hot in the outback.
AF: You’ve done that? Did you have fun?
AG: Yeah, but I’m not really big on camping
AF: So you hated it..
AG: I didn’t hate it, i liked it. There’s a lot of stuff to see, its kinda worth going… But I freak out about snakes and spiders. So I wasn’t handling it very well.
AF: Got it, so maybe its not the best thing for you. But i’d love to do that!
AG: What is your favourite song on the new album- which one do you think stands out the most?
AF: If we are talking about something that stands out, I’d say its the song Us. That’s the one that starts with the saxes. That’s something we’ve never done before and if you compare that with the rest of the record, I think it stands out.
AG: As we mentioned Divine Fits before, its very interesting for me to know if we can expect to hear some new Divine Fits’ stuff at all in the future?
AF: I certainly hope so! I love doing that band, it was really fun! Yeah so I really do hope so, its just kind of a matter of it being the right time. After the last Spoon record Britt kinda felt like the best thing for him to do would be to do another Spoon record. All of us in Divine Fits usually talk about it. And when we started on Hot Thoughts we talked about what we were going to do- Dan and Sam (Of Divine Fits) have a project called The Operators that they are working on and they are great! They are amazing! And Dan kinda has some Wolf Parade stuff that he’s been doing so, everyone has been kinda busy with doing stuff so, you know, hopefully we’ll be able to get together again and do it for sure!
AG: So you are playing a show on Thursday and making a record store appearance this week-What can we expect from the set list of Thursday’s show?
AF: We are playing a lot of new stuff so that’s kind of exciting, right?
AG: Yeah very!
AF: We will be doing a good chunk of that and we reworked a little bit of some of the older stuff, so maybe we’ll do some of that! We’ll see…Are you gonna come to the show?
AG: Yes, definitely
AF: I guess we’ll just have to wait and find out 🙂
AG: Okay, I’m excited to hear some new stuff! What has been the response from the crowds, hearing the new songs?
AF: I think it’s been great. Even since the first show we did, it was kind of a secret show. We did an unannounced show in Austen. It was announced, but like, very last minute and that was our first time playing new songs together and no one had heard anything yet. And that kinda made it so everyone had to really be listening to what we were doing- they were really receptive to it.
AG: That’s amazing! Really good to hear! Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to me
AF:Of course- nice talking to you!
SPOON play the first show of their brief headline tour TONIGHT in Sydney, before a quick stop off in Melbourne on Saturday Night. Their new album Hot Thoughts is out now.
Thursday, 23rd March
Metro Theatre, Sydney (18+)
Saturday, 25th March
The Croxton Bandroom, Melbourne (18+)