The Daily Tar Heel

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Saturday May 21st

Spoon to Dish It Out at the Cat's Cradle

But Spoon, which hits the Cat's Cradle tonight, isn't the usual rock band. Sleep, says frontman Britt Daniel, fuels Spoon's most adventurous endeavors.

"Sometimes it seems like I get my best ideas right when I'm about to fall asleep," Daniel said. "I guess you sort of let go of your conscious mind but you're still hearing that sort of creativity going."

But don't let the off-kilter origins of Spoon's songs get you down. Concert-goers can look forward to rocked-up, reworked versions of favorites like "Lines In The Suit" and the sparse "Paper Tiger."

"The idea is that we are a rock band, and we just do our hits that are rock band versions," Daniel said. "We just try to look at it like a rock band -- we can't recreate everything. We just go in there and play different versions of the songs."

Daniel's live aesthetic that "less is more" contrasts with his approach to recording albums. Given the detailed production of Spoon's last two albums, 2001's Girls Can Tell and this year's Kill The Moonlight, it's logical to conclude that the band enters the studio with concrete direction for its albums.

"We definitely go into the studio with a game plan," Daniel said. "We spend a lot of time in there. But we also make an effort to do it live and make it still sound like it's a band playing rather than a studio project."

Much of the live feel Spoon lends its albums comes from Daniel's edgy vocal performances.

Peppered with seemingly impromptu shouts of "all right" and "c'mon," Daniel's carefully crafted lyrics belie the fact that these outbursts are also planned.

"I just think 'c'mon' is one of the greatest lyrics in rock," he said. "It's a lyric. It just feels good. John Lennon used it a lot."

As a songwriter, Daniel is accustomed to culling ideas from strange, disparate moments. "I'll hear something in a conversation or see a sign and jot it down and work on it later," Daniel said. "Occasionally you get the chance to work on it right then, and that's cool."

Once Daniel has a set of completed songs he's happy with, he, drummer Jim Eno and producer Mike McCarthy painstakingly arrange the songs into their final forms. The process is long but worth it if the product is a great rock album.

"We just have to make sure that we think that (each album) is as good as the last one," Daniel said. "I can imagine few things (more) distasteful than putting out a record that I didn't feel good about because then all the stuff like touring and talking to people would be a real chore."

With Spoon's evident quality control, it's difficult to imagine that record companies wouldn't be supportive of the band.

But a few years ago, Spoon's future was bleak after it was dropped from Elektra following just one album, 1998's A Series of Sneaks. Eventually, it found a home with Chapel Hill's Merge Records, where the band is happy, Daniel said.

"I love Merge. They're great people," Daniel said. "There's not as many nice dinners -- but not as many conversations where you want to throw the phone through the fucking window."

The support from Merge and the positive response of fans to Kill The Moonlight and its tour has Spoon ready to meet the challenge of making its next album.

But even with high expectations of supporters, Daniel doesn't feel pressure from anyone but himself. He says he's just concerned with making records he thinks are worth listening to.

"The only kind of pressure that we feel is just to make sure we think (the album) is good," Daniel said. "All the other stuff you do ... all that stuff is fun.

"But the most important thing is making great records. Everything else is just in support of that."

The Arts & Entertainment Editor can be reached at artsdesk@unc.edu.

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