Sure, I wanted to talk to Spoon bassist Rob Pope about his band's excellent new release, They Want My Soul. And yes, I wanted to hear about his other band The Get Up Kids, who recently embarked on a tour after many years apart.
But I really wanted to hear about the new bar.
"[Spoon] took a lot of time off, so I've done a lot of stuff between 2011 and now," Pope said in a August phone interview. "I put out a Get Up Kids record in 2011, toured that whole year. In 2012, I started work on that bar; in 2013, I opened that bar. I got married last year. I just had a baby six weeks ago. I'm not a spring chicken, I'm trying to get to work here!"
That bar is Lake Street, a "Midwest-themed" spot in Brooklyn's Greenpoint neighborhood opened by Pope, The Wanted bassist Eric Odness, Hold Steady drummer Bobby Drake and (non-musician) Stevie Howlett. When I prodded at Pope – he sitting at his Midwest-themed spot in NYC, me in actual Midwest-located desk – about what a regionally themed bar means, the answer: hospitality.
"I grew up in Kansas. I think, going back there, you just notice how nice everyone is, how immediately friendly people are to each other. You fly to the airport, you rent a car, pull up to a tollbooth, and some woman treats you like she hasn't seen you in ten years. That's what we were looking for. So many bars in New York, there's so much pretension and ... some guy in suspenders putting mustache wax essence in your cocktail, or whatever. That's not what we were interested in. We wanted a bar that felt more like home."
Having satisfied my curiosity about his extracurricular activities outside of Spoon, the remarkably consistent Austin rock band behind aught-hits like "I Turn My Camera On" and "The Way We Get By," I moved on to queries about that previously mentioned excellent new album, which they'll bring to Indy at a show Friday at Old National Centre. It's the first output since 2010's Transference – received well, but quietly – and a followup came slowly at first.
"The four of us [Britt Daniel, Jim Eno, Eric Harvey, Pope] got together and did a bunch of weird songwriting exercises in 2013; there were some songs Britt was kicking around that we worked different versions of. We had a really weird version of 'Rent I Pay' and some of the other stuff that ended up on the record."
Pope called those weird, experimental exercises "good for the brain" – and a pressure-free way to get back in a room and work on music together after years. Other ways Spoon has emerged from its interim changed: They made a move from longtime label Merge to Loma Vista for Soul ("no reason other than trying something new," Pope says). And they picked up new multi-instrumentalist Alex Fischel, who has breathed fresh life into old songs. Daniel toured with Fischel with his side project Divine Fits, and, according to Pope, was looking for ways to ease some of his responsibilities onstage.
"In the live scenario, there were only x-amount of hands on stage at any given time," Pope said. "There were some parts of songs that had to suffer because of that, things that we couldn't completely emulate from record, and now we can. So that's been really fun."(Editor's note: Opener Hamilton Leithauser will play an instore set at LUNA Music on Friday at 4 p.m.)