THE BCB INTERVIEWS: Brother Spoon

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Brother Spoon
Billy Crystal
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THE BCB INTERVIEWS: Brother Spoon

Postby Brother Spoon » 15 Jan 2014, 08:53

Unfinished and unedited, but here goes...
But Packrat and I, we know that one day we'll sit down for a really long chat! :)

Packrat: What is the earliest music you remember hearing. And what did you take to as early 'likes'?

I always dread the question, because usually you get these great generational tales. 'My dad took me to a Miles show when I was 5, because he wanted me to see the back of a great man', 'Bach every Sunday at Mass', 'Fela Kuti hid out in our fridge for a couple of weeks'...

My dad took me to see Status Quo once in the late '80s, and I still get sentimental thinking about it...
My musical upbringing is more of a Dickensian tale, I pulled myself up out of the swamp but it took a lot of stumbling around in the dark. Just a couple of weeks ago, I learned that my mother and father actually met at an Ike & Tina Turner show. 'They looked so young,' my mother says – though the timeline indicates sometime around 1973. But there was little, if any music in the house. We didn't have a radio until I was twelve and my sister won a stereo tower (LP, double cassettedeck, radio) at a raffle. In my teens I found a '60s copy of the White album with my mother's name on it in my aunt's record collection. It was a gift from an early admirer (not my dad), but my mother traded it for a copy of a Dutch 1958 LP on Philips called 'De Grote Salamander' (the great salamander), a collection of student drinking songs, which made her think of her college years.

So what do I remember?
There was a children's tv show called Kinderen voor Kinderen (Kids for Kids) with a lot of songs. There's one bit I still sing to myself quite a bit actually:
Met één been op de stoep
En één been in de goot
En als je dat niet doet
Dan ben je morgen dood
(I walk with one foot on the pavement / And one foot in the gutter / And if I slip up / I'll be dead tomorrow)
I can't remember the rest. It's a jaunty tune really.

When I was about 10 years old (I think), there was a song segment on national tv. There was this tv personality, Margriet – a big woman with a laugh to obliterate anything in her path. She was – amongst other things – a singer with a voice to obliterate anything in her path. And she also had this summer talk show broadcast live from the Belgian coast: Margriet aan Zee.
One show she sang 'Rock around the clock'. On the floor of the stage they'd drawn a clock, and they filmed the performance from above and she did this routine dancing around the clock, singing this charicature version of rock'n'roll.
It was hardly the Beatles on Sullivan, but that was it, you know. Rock'n'roll.
My mother got me a Cliff Richard compilation from a flea market a couple of days later – but this was before the double cassettedeck...
Margriet later turned into a hilarious politician, who urged for just about anything to be left to the free market's 'invisible hand', except the Flemish schlager industry which needed all the quotas it could get.

We did have an old turntable, slightly out of tune. And my mother tells me I was crazy about a Dutch 'Care Bears' LP. A story about the care bears saving a boy who'd run off from home from the grasp of professor Coldheart. Songs and synthesizers by Randy Edelhart, if I'm not mistaken. He also did all of the voices!
Anyway, I retrieved it a while ago to play for my son (who loves it!), and I can't remember a damn thing about it. I've learned that Carole King did the English-language version, which is something I guess.

All this was before I consciously listened to music – I was into fencing, I was into books, tv, Nintendo, comics (I don't know what these series are called elsewhere – Suske en Wiske, Lucky Luke, Rode ridder, Blauwbloezen, Nero...). Mostly we rode our bikes around our town and played soccer.

The summer when I was 12, I turned into a Beatle nut overnight, but it still wasn't musical, I think. I learned to love the music later. It was more transcendent than that at first. It sounds pretty dumb but I think I connected to the great love in there. It was the summer when my parents split, and I think I found it there. The music came later.

Packrat: At what age did music start meaning something to you specifically, rather than just background noise?

We've established that I was pretty late. I was 15.
It was a Belgian band called dEUS, their third single 'Via'.

There had been fits and starts before (Beatles, there was an insane plan to save up for every Queen and Dire Straits album from my measly allowance which I forgot about after 2 weeks, there was some peer pressure about Nirvana and Pearl Jam which I lapped up for a couple of months), but that's when I got bitten.

Things moved pretty fast after that –
By the early summer of that year ('94) I'd gotten an electric guitar.
By early autumn I got the amp.
By october I started violin classes at the local music academy. I was that much of a fan.
By the end of the year I had my first living room rehearsal band – we knew every song off that album.

Around Christmas they were on the radio talking about their favourite records of the year (Pavement, Portishead). Before New Year came, I had both Pavement albums and 'Dummy'.

Early the next year Dutch music magazine Oor (Ear) had a listening test interview with the singer: JJ Cale, Beefheart, Neil Young, more Pavement, Tom Waits, Velvet Underground. I was off.
I found all that stuff in a local 2nd hand and vinyl store – that became my base of operations. I worked there during my last couple university years as well. Never took any money home either.

In march '95 I saw them live for the first time. My third show that I'd chosen myself. The chaos and the rightness and the noise was stunning. They didn't even know what they were doing. (I think about the show years later and I still think it couldn't have been rehearsed.)

When they released a mail order only EP My Sister = My Clock, set to prematurely sink their career, I defended it (still do).
When the guitar player (him of the noise guitar) left in late '95, our hearts sunk.
When the singer was arrested in a razzia for possession of liquid cocaine, we gasped.
When it turned out liquid cocaine didn't exist, we gasped again.
Police frame-ups in Antwerp? It was high drama.

Packrat: What sort of size collection do you have? Do you find you spend too much on expanding the collection or are you in control? Are you a completist?

No matter what I do, there are always 8 records more than fit the shelves. I honestly don't know how many there are, about 4000 maybe.

In the last couple of years. I've decidedly moved on from a controlled collection of records I know and love, to a jumble of records, several hundreds I've never heard, that I can get lost in, now or in some undetermined future. It's a library, really. I see I've ended up with two Pulp albums! Maybe I'll play them someday.
These days they keep throwing records at you, you can hardly keep 'em out. I've just set aside about 150 records from 2000 for disposal, but there's more coming in all the time. Just this week there was this really cheap Jerry Lee Lewis box and a couple of Wanda Jackson albums and so on.

Money doesn't really come into it. Although I like owning the physical item, clear out sales and Amazon second hand do me fine (and I'm a big believer in my local library who have a great music collection). I'm pretty cheap actually. Never had to sneak in records as if they'd always been there.

I guess I'm a completist, but as long as I keep myself from buying the Dylan Christmas album, I don't beat myelf up over it.

Packrat: Are you an audiophile at all? As in, do you care about the quality of your sound and hifi, or are you happy to listen to the speakers on your pc monitor?

You know, I've been in studios with fancy equipment that made me sound good, so I've learned to distrust a really good installation.

I guess I don't get worked up over it, but listening to pc speakers is one step too far.

Packrat: Do you have any connection to music on a professional basis? Play in a band, trained in music, etc.

I did all that stuff (strictly small time, strictly all of my time), and the day I quit, shortly after my son was born, it was the biggest relief. It opened me up to appreciate a wide range of things in life, instead of beating my head against the same wall of inspiration all of the time.
It sounds silly but this self imposed obligation to create controlled me for a long time. It sucked me up and stopped me from developing as a person. And who was I doing it for?
Instead of spending my energy making music to funnel how ill at ease I was in life, I've been using my energy to get myself at ease. It sounds lame and grown-up, but I always thought I escaped in music because I couldn't get inspired by my job, but it was cause I was trapped in music that I shut myself off from getting inspired from work, from the usefulness I could offer others, from life in general.
It took me a couple of years readjusting – I changed jobs a couple of times, enrolled in school again (nights and holidays) – to get myself where I should be. It was tough, really – job hunting is a demeaning way of spending your time. I hate(d) every interview. And I feel for everyone who does it out of necessity rather than choice.

Well, I'm happy for everyone who takes the plunge and somehow manages to create music that moves me. But I'm done with the idea that artistic creativity is for everyone. I leave it to the professionals.

Probably not the answer you were looking for. :-)

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der nister
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Re: THE BCB INTERVIEWS: Brother Spoon

Postby der nister » 15 Jan 2014, 14:26

great stuff
Spoon, looking forward to your
continuing look at 50s' stars 60s' music
the Locust Years is an awesome set
It's kinda depressing for a music forum to be proud of not knowing musicians.

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Charlie O.
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Re: THE BCB INTERVIEWS: Brother Spoon

Postby Charlie O. » 15 Jan 2014, 17:19

Yes, excellent stuff!
Image

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Brother Spoon
Billy Crystal
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Re: THE BCB INTERVIEWS: Brother Spoon

Postby Brother Spoon » 16 Jan 2014, 07:12

zphage wrote:great stuff
Spoon, looking forward to your
continuing look at 50s' stars 60s' music
the Locust Years is an awesome set


Yeah, life gets in the way for now.
I've been listening to a ton of Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis though.
There's plenty there to talk about. Some great stuff.

Piggly Wiggly

Re: THE BCB INTERVIEWS: Brother Spoon

Postby Piggly Wiggly » 17 Jan 2014, 01:12

This is a GOOD one!

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kath
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Re: THE BCB INTERVIEWS: Brother Spoon

Postby kath » 17 Jan 2014, 19:08

i think it's great stuff, too.


Brother Spoon wrote:The summer when I was 12, I turned into a Beatle nut overnight, but it still wasn't musical, I think. I learned to love the music later. It was more transcendent than that at first. It sounds pretty dumb but I think I connected to the great love in there. It was the summer when my parents split, and I think I found it there. The music came later.


why would that, in any universe, sound dumb?



p.s. i been tryin to sing the met één been op de stoep thing, but i have a sinking suspicion i'm not doin it right at all. besides, i dunno why anyone would wanna put one foot in the goat. ahem.

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Brother Spoon
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Re: THE BCB INTERVIEWS: Brother Spoon

Postby Brother Spoon » 17 Jan 2014, 20:14

kath wrote:
Brother Spoon wrote:The summer when I was 12, I turned into a Beatle nut overnight, but it still wasn't musical, I think. I learned to love the music later. It was more transcendent than that at first. It sounds pretty dumb but I think I connected to the great love in there. It was the summer when my parents split, and I think I found it there. The music came later.


why would that, in any universe, sound dumb?


Thanks, Kath. It's weird trying to imagine how I felt as a child, but I think it was exactly like that.


kath wrote:
p.s. i been tryin to sing the met één been op de stoep thing, but i have a sinking suspicion i'm not doin it right at all. besides, i dunno why anyone would wanna put one foot in the goat. ahem.


I found it for you!

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kath
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Re: THE BCB INTERVIEWS: Brother Spoon

Postby kath » 17 Jan 2014, 20:38

Brother Spoon wrote:
kath wrote:
p.s. i been tryin to sing the met één been op de stoep thing, but i have a sinking suspicion i'm not doin it right at all. besides, i dunno why anyone would wanna put one foot in the goat. ahem.


I found it for you!


that is just beyond groovy. thanks. ohhhh, reap has no idea what kinda day he's in for. mwhahaha. i gotta work on this thing. get it right.

this is the way to do it, ya know. back when i had to learn languages in school, it's a shame we didn't start with shows and songs like this.

p.s. there could be a downside, though. i like to blame hr pufnstuf for my later lil acid thing. sshhhhh.