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Spoon's latest album trades electronic instrumentation for raw rock and roll

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

When you've been putting out records for nearly three decades, even really great records, sometimes you just need to change things up to keep it interesting.

BRITT DANIEL: I think it's just a natural tendency to want to react against the last record that we made. We feel that just about every time.

CHANG: That's Britt Daniel, the frontman for the band Spoon, which just put out its 10th album called "Lucifer On The Sofa." Their last couple records have been highly produced, with a lot of electronic instrumentation. This one not so much.

(SOUNDBITE OF SPOON SONG, "THE HARDEST CUT")

DANIEL: I mean, the general blueprint for the record was there's not enough great rock and roll records being made, and we wanted to make one.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "THE HARDEST CUT")

SPOON: (Singing) You took off in the dead of night. But before you did, got your hair combed right. Yeah.

CHANG: Daniel says he wanted the record to have the sound of a live band playing together inside the room. And to get that sound, the band went back to the place where it started - Austin, Texas. You can hear that raw rock-band-in-the-basement energy all over this album, especially on the first song, called "Held."

(SOUNDBITE OF SPOON SONG, "HELD")

DANIEL: It's a cover. And it's a song we used to play live in the 2000s. And we hadn't played since then. So when we were getting together one day to work on this record, in order to sort of get us in the mood, we started playing some covers. And I threw out this idea, why don't we play "Held"? We haven't played it in forever.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "HELD")

SPOON: (Singing) For the first time in my life, I let myself be held.

DANIEL: And then suddenly, we had this thing that had a lot of teeth, more teeth than I remembered. And I said, maybe this isn't just an exercise. Maybe we're going - maybe we should actually record this one. And what you hear on the record is - you know, you can hear me sort of shouting out at some point in the song like, do the drum fill twice as long.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "HELD")

SPOON: Let's do the fill twice as long. The little break...

DANIEL: We just left that kind of stuff in there 'cause it felt good, you know?

CHANG: Yeah, I love that part.

DANIEL: That was us, you know, really figuring it out as we went along.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "HELD")

SPOON: (Singing) I let the ants cover me.

CHANG: Well, when you go out on tour now, I mean, you're touring with 10 albums worth of songs. I'm sure there are a few that people want to hear at every show. Are there any old songs that you kind of dread playing?

DANIEL: No. I like playing our songs.

CHANG: (Laughter).

DANIEL: I know...

CHANG: That's good to hear.

DANIEL: ...Some songs are going to go on - go over better than others. But yeah, I like playing them all.

CHANG: What about the opposite question? Are there any songs that you are particularly excited to keep playing?

DANIEL: I'm excited about playing the new songs. You know, they really lend themselves to a rock show.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "FEELS ALRIGHT")

SPOON: (Singing) Feels alright to me, standing here by myself. A photograph with no correction from me or anybody else.

DANIEL: Sometimes you get to the end of a record and you have to figure out, OK, now how are we going to actually play this live? - because you've made the record in the studio or writing the songs as you were recording them. But not this album. It was the sound of a band that's playing in a room, feeding off each other. And so once it was done, it was easy to just go out and start playing some shows.

(SOUNDBITE OF SPOON SONG, "LUCIFER ON THE SOFA")

CHANG: I want to ask about the name of this album because every time I was talking about this upcoming interview that I was going to do with you with our producer, I was like, I need to prep for "Lucifer On The Sofa" or when's "Lucifer On The Sofa" going to air? And it occurred to me, like, what are these words that I'm saying? It's such a funny image. So I just want to ask you, what does "Lucifer On The Sofa" even mean?

DANIEL: Well, it's a good title - right? - first and foremost.

CHANG: Yeah, you can't forget it.

DANIEL: Every good record needs a great title. But it comes from a lyric.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LUCIFER ON THE SOFA")

SPOON: (Singing) Cashed out in the front room, ashes stain his lips. Lucifer on the sofa, staring at you.

DANIEL: You know, I wrote these lyrics, and I wasn't exactly sure what they meant right at first. And I had to think it through. Why does this lyric creep me out so much? Why did I come up with this image? And that was the best I could come up with. It was - it's another side of me. "Lucifer On The Sofa," it's you at your worst.

CHANG: What is your worst? When you try to encapsulate yourself at your worst, what is that image?

DANIEL: You know, it's times of anxiety, times of distress. You become a lot less patient. You can become self-indulgent. You can have a, you know, real lack of motivation. And I was trying to get past that character in the song.

And that's why you see - on the cover of the record, you see a guy with a - whose face is split in two. There's a black side and a white side. And it's supposed to represent the duality that's going on there.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LUCIFER ON THE SOFA")

SPOON: (Singing) For now I need peace. And nothing feels right.

CHANG: Britt Daniel is the frontman for the band Spoon. Their 10th album, "Lucifer On The Sofa," is out now. Thanks so much for being with us.

DANIEL: It's really good to talk to you.

(SOUNDBITE OF SPOON SONG, "LUCIFER ON THE SOFA") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.