Sunday night at the Bowery in New York City, I had the chance of interviewing The Spinto Band’s Jon Eaton and Joey Hobson. The SpintoBand is one of my favorite indie pop bands that blend flawless vocal harmonies and catchy melodies. It almost feels like its impossible to pull off, but they do it so well. Just finishing their most recent tour for the new record ‘Moonwink’ the guys shared stories about everything from tour pranks to how the title of the new record came about.
Modern Mystery: Who is Roy Spinto, and have you ever met him?
Jon Eaton: I have not met him. He was Nick’s Grandfather. An inspiration for The Spinto Band, that you might may or may not know.
Is he still alive?
JE: No, he’s deceased a bit. He passed away before I had ever heard his name spoken. I’m not sure of the exact year. He’s long since deceased physically, but spiritally he’s with the band every day.
How did The Spinto Band form?
JE: We all grow up together and it was kind of like a bunch of guys hanging out, playing video games and kickball and stuff, and then we got some instruments, and then we became a bunch of guys hanging out playing guitars and messing around with a 4-track. And thats a strip down version of how it got started. We were all just good friends growing up.
How did you come up with the title for the new record, ‘Moonwink’?
JE:Um, well its actually the name of a motel we used to drive by on a touring route that we commonly did up to Bennington, Vermont. In Vermont there’s a hotel called The Moonwink, uh, a motel called The Moonwink Motel, and it has an awesome sign out front and its kind of run down. I don’t even know if you can stay at The Moonwink anymore. Its a really awesome spot on the drive, where, I don’t know, its just kind of cool. That’s sort of where the term really came from. Then we sort of embraced that term to mean like, the moon, if you imagined a man in the moon, sort of giving a wink down to all of us down here, you know? Like “Hey guys! I’m with ya! I get the joke! I’m in on it!’ (laughs)Thats kind of, I don’t know, some kind of bullshit I made up. I like the sound of it (laughs).
How does the songwriting process occur for The Spinto Band?
Joey Hobson: Uh, usually we come with like a base, depending, some songs are different than others. Usually it’s kind of like a couple of parts of a song but then we all get together and arrange parts for it.
Which do you prefer more..being in the studio or being on tour?
JH: (laughs) Depending what you’re doing at the time, its always different…generally the other way around.
JE: (laughs) Yea, its usually a ‘Grass is greener on the other side’ situation. The grass is always greener. Like we just finished up our tour and it feels so good to be done with it. Like this is the last show for…like minus a week we’ve been on the road since the beginning of September and we did the UK and Europe for a little bit and had like four or five days off and then started the U.S. tour. Our booking agent is trying to get us on another tour in January and we’re like ‘Uh we may just go and try to demo some songs for the next album’ (laughs), and our record label is like ‘No you need to promote the album, its real.’ Definatly its like when you’re in the studio you want to get out on the road, and when you’re on the road you want to get into the studio and not BE on the road.
The videos you put on your Youtube site are incredible. How did you pull off these performances, especially the kitchen version of ‘Later On’?
JH: It was a practice day and we didn’t want to practice and we sat around for probably an hour finding stuff to tap on and what not. Thats how that came out (laughs). We were like ‘Oh my God! I think we can fill these with water!’
Who are your influences?
JH: We have a lot of them (laughs). I don’t think we can rattle them off right now. Um, every band I’ve ever listened to.
If you weren’t in The Spinto Band, what would you be doing?
JH: I don’t know, probably something with animation…or working on it.
You could make little animated Roy Spintos. That would be awkward.
JH: Yes, that would be awkward.
Do you find it hard to pull off on stage what you created in the studio?
JH: Its always different. I don’t know if we’re always shooting to do exactly what we did in the studio. It would be hard to do exactly what we did in the studio, yea.
JE: I think we tried to defiantly consciously, maybe not consciously, but we defiantly changed it around on stage. Its a little different experience.
What was the first band you were ever a part of?
JH:The Spinto Band…or Free Beer, I guess, which is the same thing.
JE: I’ve never been (slight pause), I’ve never been able to really play music and enjoy it as much as I do with the guys in this band, whatever form it may be. We kind of did like rap albums and weird side projects and like weird different albums over the years, but its all the same group of friends.
What is your favorite album of all time?
JE: Oh my gosh….
JH: Don’t have one!
JE: Yea, mine changes a lot. I just got the new Q-tip album that I like, but my favorite of all time….I’d say currently in heavy rotation is The Silver Jews “American Water’ but if you ask me that question tomorrow it might be different, as I think most people would say. Do you have a favorite album of all time?
I can’t decide on just one. It changes all of the time, from like month to month.
JE: Yea exactly!
It will never be the same.
JE: Thats a dirty question! (laughs) ‘Cause you’re going to write that on your blog now and be like ‘Oh really?!’ (laughs)
What is your favorite tour moment of all time?
JE: I’d simplify it to this last tour. Um, there were some good moments. I’ll go back to in the UK. We were touring with this band called the All New Adventures of Us and it was the last show of the tour in Birmingham, and we had gotten along really well with the guys and like, shared some hotel rooms and had some drinks with them over the course of the two weeks we were on tour. So the last night we decided to prank them on their set, and we put milk on the drummer’s snare drum and the lights were kind of low and like the snare drum head is normally white, so he didn’t see it at all. We also put, well our soundman put, water in the trumpet player’s trumpet, and we had them all set up, and the drummer hit the snare drum for the first hit and I was watching him and you kind of saw him look around. He didn’t know what happened. It was his Birthday that night too so it made it all the better. He was really puzzled for a while, and we had always talked about doing that prank but never really did understand how you can pull it off, and then it worked perfectly. He eventually ran his hand down and smelled it or something. He looked out in the audience and like pumped his fist…had a laugh. And then they got us when we took the stage after the. After every song through the monitors they played like these real dirty British comedy routines that are like…they were like (Speaks in British Accent) ‘Oh gee, oh what I wouldn’t do for a big juicy cock right now’ or something and like (laughs) these really inappropriate sayings to have coming out of your monitor speakers. I don’t think the audience could hear them, but you didn’t know if the audience could hear or not. We found out they couldn’t later, and they were just like ‘What the fuck?’ That was a pretty good moment and it was all in good fun, and I don’t think anyone in the audience came out of the show saying it was ruined or anything like that.
What was the first instrument that you learned to play?
JH: I had a ukulele but I couldn’t play it well. It was just one I had.
JE: I remember in Elementary School, getting like, in music class, getting to play like some sort of drum or wood block or something, and having the music teacher ask me to chill out an listen to the rest of the people in the band because I wasn’t keeping proper time (laughs). If you ask anyone else in the band they’ll tell you that I fall off the beat more than anyone. It stayed with me (laughs).
Who is Mandy?
JE: Yea there is no Mandy. Its a disappointment.
JH: There is a Mandy, its just not about one.
JE: The song is named for the Mandolin, or the inspiration is a Mandolin.
Did you find it more nerve wracking releasing ‘Moonwink’ than ‘Nice and Nicely Done’ ?
JE: Um, I’d say its hard, the last album, ha! (pause). Thats a hard one to answer.
JH: Well for the first one we had no expectations so putting the second one out there were…actual expectations.
JE: Yea, people actually wanted to hear the second one, whereas the one before it, nobody had any expectations.
What new albums are you currently listening to?
JE: I just mentioned the Q-tip album, I just listened to that yesterday, um, on this tour I picked up that Last Shadow Puppet’s album which I thought would be a lot differnt but it just sounds like an Arctic Monkey’s album. I picked up…we played a lot of instores so we got a lot of opportunities to buy albums. Um, I picked up the new Jenny Lewis which I liked, I don’t know. Nothing too exotic there. Let’s see…the new Silver Jews is really good. Not real into the new TV on the Radio. The Money Notes album has been on heavy rotation on all of ours (laughs). In all honesty. And let’s see, what else. I can probably answer for a couple other people in the band. Tom just got the new Deerhunter, he’s a big Deerhoof fans so Tom likes bands with ‘Deer’ prefixies (laughs), and Sam always listens to weird hip hop I don’t know the name of.
JH: MURS. He just got that.
JE: So who knows. I don’t know. Is that a good enough list?
Yes, very detailed (laughs). So where do you see the Spinto Band in 10 years?
JE: Sitting on a beach with some pina coladas. Yea I don’t know. Ask Nick!
At this point singer Nick Krill comes down the stairs and walks over.
Nick Krill: What?
JE: Answer this one question.
Where do you see the Spinto Band in 10 years from now?
NK: Where do I see them? Everywhere I look! (laughs)
JE: There you go!
Good answer! And on to the last question of the night. What board game can you kick anyone’s ass at?
Both: Team Sorry!
JH: Not just Sorry but Team Sorry!