Somewhat surprisingly The Spinto Band has been manufacturing its own kind of aural happiness for 15 years. After a slew of late ‘90s basement recordings, they emerged in 2005 with the infectiously sincere Nice and Nicely Done (Bar/None) and the single “Oh, Mandy.”
They’ve since been hard at work touring Europe, getting lots of love from international blogs, building a studio, playing residencies in Brooklyn and Philadelphia, shooting videos, and writing albums. The newest album, Shy Pursuit (Spintonic), was just been released and continues the band’s homegrown assault of manic joy on listeners’ earholes, filled with handfuls of quick, addictive tracks and a wide range of instruments.
A readers guide to this interview:
SH = Sam Hughes, keyboards
TH = Thomas Hughes, bass/vocals
NK = Nick Krill, guitar/vocals
JoeyH = Joey Hobson, guitar
JeffH = Jeff Hobson, drums
TBJ: The first time I saw The Spinto Band was at house party in 2003, has your live show changed between then and now?
Sam Hughes: Well yeah we hope so, we’ve done a lot of different things.
Nick Krill: We lost a member but gained a keyboard. We’re less organic but more electronic.
You’re playing something called Ribfest in Chicago in a few days. How do you feel about ribs? Do you have any more shows lined up?
Thomas Hughes: Ribs, we mostly like them, especially if they’re delivered. We used to get ribs delivered from a Chinese place when we were younger all the time.
Joey Hobson: If they want to give us free ribs, and you kind of have to expect it with a name like Ribfest, we’re not gonna to say no.
SH: We also have a couple of festivals in Pennsylvania in August.
Your new song and video, “The Living Things,” just debuted on NPR’s All Songs Considered. Has that opened a lot of doors for you guys? Are NPR people buying you lunches?
NK: Yeah, a little.
TH: Hopefully we’ll get into the circle. I tried to call into Car Talk, I tried to say we had a NPR connection, said hey we’re The Spinto Band…
JoeyH: Yea, we’re a touring band and need help with our van.
TH: But we couldn’t get through.
I feel like they’d love it. What’s wrong with the van?
NK: It’s a swishing noise.
JoeyH: It’s an annoying metal thing.
NK: [swishing noise]
JoeyH: [swooshing noise]
JeffH: It’s a piece of metal tapping against another piece of metal [makes clanking noise].
TH: That’s the noise.
SH: At some point we gotta call in.
The animation in the video reminds me of Hertzfeldt mixed with Super Mario World.
TH: Yeaaaah the animator, Phil Davis, would love to hear that.
The live action portion of your video was filmed at your recording studio, The Garden Center. What kind of stuff goes on there? Do you grow herbs? Throw big parties?
JoeyH: We had tomatoes for awhile but we ended up leaving for a month and the deer ate them.
So there are deer?
NK: And foxes, mice.
A real Noah’s Ark situation.
SH: We have video game tournaments. Mainly stuff for Super Nintendo and Nintendo64.
TH: We’re big into Bomberman, specifically Super Bomberman 2.
SH: Although we recently played 10-player Bomberman for Sega Saturn.
NK: We mainly record music there too.
TH: This record was recorded there. All The Spinto Band stuff, other bands will come and record too.
TH: Lewis and Clarke, Langor, Deleted Scenes.
You used to be notorious dice players. Do you still play?
JoeyH: No [laughs], not all the time.
Jeff Hobson: It comes back now and again.
NK: Maybe we need to get back into it.
TH: I need to make some money…Settlers of Catan is the preferred dice rollin’ these days.
Did anything fun on Memorial Day?
TH: Went up to New York City to do a radio show, which happened to be in an amazing pizza joint called Roberta’s.
SH: There’s a whole radio station in there.
Did you do an interview? Play music? Did they record you munching pizza?
NK: Yeah, all of those.
TH: We met a famous chef, Daniel Boulud.
JoeyH: He was just there, hangin’ out.
Do you guys have a favorite Fleetwood Mac album?
NK: No, not really. We’re not super into them.
JoeyH: I’m not versed.
NK: Some friends of mine are real big into Lindsey Buckingham. Tusk is the one they really like. But I don’t really know much about them.
TH: I feel like I would recognize one or two songs. [sings] You can go your own way.
NK: I have seen the VH1 “Making Of” about Rumors, which was pretty good.
TH: Don’t they also do [sings] Don’t stop thinkin’ about tomorrow?
JoeyH: Yea, they’re one of those bands where you realize you know a thousand of their songs.
NK: I recently got into the band Toto. Only one song though.
NK: No, I actually listened to every song and they all were terrible except for “Georgie Porgy.” That one was great and I was like, well let me dig into these guys.
Do you guys have a favorite place to eat when you’re on the road? Cracker Barrel? Applebee’s?
JoeyH: Anything you can find everywhere in the country is where I go.
NK: What I do is have an auxiliary bag, another suitcase of all snacks. A lot of nuts, dried fruit.
SH: We go to Trader Joes, they’ve got good snacks.
TH: There’s usually a few places that we kind of know. Just recently we played New Haven and returned to a place called Johnny Salamis. It’s this weird place in a meat market, its a sandwich shop.
JeffH: It’s a meat warehouse, next door is maybe a chicken processing plant.
NK: I kinda want to go back there right now.
JH: We have that as a favorite in our GPS.
In your opinion, what makes a good venue?
TH: The last time we played this hookah lounge, they gave us quarters to play pinball.
NK: We like it if the staff is cool. It’s the small things.
On the Nice and Nicely Done there’s a song called “Atari,” are there any video games you guys are into right now?
JeffH: I borrowed my girlfriend’s iPad, got Photohunt and a Risk game called Conquest.
NK: We have the Super Punch Out arcade game back home.
Joey: It’s a combination of the Nintendo and Super Nintendo versions from the ‘80s, all the characters are racist.
Toto aside, is there any music you’re really into?
NK: Old Les Paul recordings, he did a bunch of albums that are all weird with overdubs from the ‘50s. Some of the stuff with Mary Ford is pretty good.
TH: The isolated Beatles instrumental tracks. There’s this one of the bass line for “Something.” It’s just Paul, sometimes it sounds really bad but in the context of the song it’s great.
NK: We’ve been learning a lot about them.
SH: A little more Ween recently.
TH: A great point, I went into a Ween youtube hole. We found this crazy video–fan shot footage of a Ween 1993 record signing, people are painting cars, in the background “Ren and Stimpy” is on TV. It’s not really music but just as good.
It’s too bad they’re calling it quits.
TH: They’re comin’ back, this is not the end.
NK: At least a hologram show.
How do you guys feel about all these holograms? It’s already happened with Tupac.
TH: Left Eye Lopez.
JoeyH: Michael Jackson will be on stage very soon.
NK: I hope they have Thriller-era Michael, that’s what I’d like to see in hologram form.
I think they’ll have every era and he’ll just grow up as the show goes on.
JoeyH: Jackson Five stuff for sure.
SH: I think the Jacksons are touring right now.
NK: All the living old Jacksons dancing along with little, tiny Michael.
A Roger Rabbit situation where they’re moving along with him?
NK: Yea, that’s it.
JoeyH: I don’t know how I feel about it. I feel good and bad at the same time.
JeffH: It’s kinda cool but at the same time kinda disrespectful sort of.
JoeyH: Unless someone, when they died, said please…hologram me.