he four years leading up to Spoon’s new They Want My Soul was the longest gap between any of the group’s eight albums and came after some dedicated time off for the band members to pursue outside projects. But there was never any concern that they wouldn’t come back together, according to drummer and co-producer Jim Eno.
“There was never that discussion. I always knew we were going to come back at some point, when we were ready,” Eno tells Billboard. “The break was really needed. If you look at it, we had been writing, recording, touring for seven records straight, with pretty much no breaks, so it was just time to step away. I think Britt (Daniel) started freeing up from Divine Fits and we started putting dates on the calendar, like, ‘Let’s start doing rehearsals.’ And once we started getting the songs together it was, ‘Okay, looks like it’s time to start booking some recording time…’ ”
Spoon made “They Want My Soul” — which tied the career high of 2010’s “Transference” by debuting at No. 4 on the Billboard 200 — in two chunks, working separately with producers Joe Chiccarelli and Dave Fridmann. “We felt like we could manage it a little easier that way instead of waiting to have all of it together at once,” Eno explains. And, he adds, the two experiences were markedly different.
“Britt and had worked with Joe on some Divine Fits stuff,” Eno says. “He helped arrangement-wise and [with] some other things, but I guess the more we got into it with him we felt like there wasn’t as much common ground as we would want. So we did the first chunk of songs with him, and then we went to New York to mix with Dave.”
And that, of course, led to Fridmann taking a more active role in producing four of the album’s tracks. “I was a little bit concerned because you look at (Flaming Lips’) ‘The Soft Bulletin or the first MGMT record or Sleater-Kinney, those are sort of big-sounding and Spoon has always been more about economy,” Eno acknowledges. “So it was a little bit like, ‘How is this gonna work?’ But he’s a very good producer and he wanted it to be the band’s record and he knew how to get where the band wanted to go. He’s very good at that, so it was a great experience.”
Spoon will be on the road in the U.S. through Oct. 12, including three shows during the Austin City Limits Music Festival. A short European run kicks off Nov. 1 in Amsterdam, with subsequent plans to tour more in the U.S. as well as Australia and Japan. Eno says there are “snippets of maybe two or three more” song ideas from the “They Want My Soul” sessions, but he won’t predict how soon Spoon will likely start working on its next project.
“It’s hard to say,” he notes. “I’m sure Britt and Alex (Fischel, Spoon’s new keyboardist) will do another Divine Fits record. If that happens we’re probably not going to do another Spoon record for two years, but we’ll see how it goes. We never have any songs when we go in, usually, but there are a few things I feel we would bring back to the table next time. There’s some I would say are 50 percent there, so it’s nice to have that in our pocket.”