In celebration of Romantic Traffic and Tell No Lies‘ 30th Anniversary, Burlington new-wave/pop group Spoons reunite tonight in Toronto to play The Mod Club! Ahead of the show, we gave frontman Gordon Deppe a call to discuss the anniversary show, creating special setlists, and the history of Spoons. Enjoy:
AMBY: Thanks for speaking with me today! This Friday, you all reunite for your 30th Anniversary Party at The Mod Club celebrating Romantic Traffic and Tell No Lies. Tell me a bit about the upcoming show and how that all came together.
Spoons: We’re getting to the time now where almost every year is a 30th Anniversary of something [laughs]. This year it’s for Romantic Traffic and Tell No Lies, which were two of our biggest songs. When we have our anniversary, we try to get the original band back together as well as the brass section which was a big part of our sound around the time of Romantic Traffic and Tell No Lies. It’s a bit of a reunion and an anniversary but also a big party.
AMBY: As you mentioned, you’re back to playing with the original line-up which has only happened once before for Nova Heart, so that’s extremely exciting. Was the last time you played together actually at that Nova Heart anniversary show? Have you had any secret jam sessions since then?
Spoons: Nope – Rob lives in New York City and Derrick doesn’t really play much anymore; he’s more in the music business side of things so they only come out every couple of years. It’s pretty exciting for us, as well. When we played together two years ago, that was the first time we were together for the first time in twenty-six years.
Spoons: That was extra special.
AMBY: When it comes to creating a setlist for a special event like this, what’s your process like for choosing songs?
Spoons: It’s definitely going to be heavy on the older material; it’ll concentrate on those older years with the Talkback album and Tell No Lies/Romantic Traffic EP. We may do a song from the Listen to the City soundtrack which came out right after that. So it’ll mostly be from the mid-eighties period. We’ll definitely do the old stuff, but maybe one or two newer songs off our latest album. We may as well take advantage of the old guys being there.
AMBY: Are there any songs in specific that you look forward to playing the most?
Spoons: It’s so fun and I never get tired of playing Nova Heart or Arias & Symphonies.
AMBY: I can’t wait to hear that one.
Spoons: For this show, we’ll be doing a couple of songs that we haven’t done in a very long time so I’m kind of excited to see how they go over. Specifically, there’s a song called Candy Apple, which was never on any release but we performed it on a Thanksgiving special back in ’85 or something like that [laughs]. It’s sort of a cult song because it’s never been played again and people have asked about it for years. We’ll now have it on a special CD at the gig.
AMBY: That’s exciting! Back in the eighties, I know you were compared as being the Canadian equivalent to Duran Duran. Reflecting on that comment, is this something that always made you laugh or did you feel some pressure being compared to them at the time? What was your headspace like?
Spoons: I haven’t heard that too much, actually! We’ve been compared to a lot of different things which is fine; I like some of their stuff. The thing about Spoons is that we really changed over time – at the very beginning, we were considered alternative; as the eighties went along, our songwriting changed and we became more mainstream and pop with songs like Romantic Traffic and Old Emotions; near the end of the eighties, we become almost more eighties-rock. We went through a lot of changes, so we might have been compared to Duran Duran in the middle years… I’d say in the early years we were more like a Bauhaus or Ultravox sound. I like all comparisons!
AMBY: You recently dropped a new autobiography titled Spoonfed – great title, by the way – which is a story of you growing up within Spoons. When you look back at those memories and photographs, what are some moments that really stand out for you?
Spoons: There’s a lot; I couldn’t believe how many stories there were. There were so many things that happened and some were funny, some were sad, some were scary. A thing that’s funny that happened in the eighties was how it was like ten years of Halloween.
AMBY and Spoons: [laughs]
Spoons: It was crazy, but there are some things that stand out like the Police Picnic in 1982 which was in front of about 60, 000 people. Before that, the biggest crowd we had done was maybe about 700 people at the Masonic Temple and then all of a sudden we were in front of this huge audience. Going to England for the first time was great; it was such an amazing thing for me because not only was I influenced by British bands, but I had always been a huge fan of British television and film. That was a pretty high point in my career. Every tour has a great moment, though. I remember touring the US for the first time with Culture Club which was a real adventure. We still have great moments now! Just at the end of summer, we played our hometown of Burlington to 20, 000 people which was surreal.
AMBY: Many of our readers are in start-up or new indie bands. With all of those experiences behind you, what advice would you give artists who are just getting to know the music industry?
Spoons: Ohhhh, I shouldn’t even do this.
Spoons: It’s really changed. The industry has changed so much. The competition seems to be so much greater. People think that because of Facebook and Twitter that it’s an advantage – and in ways it is because you have more ways of getting your music out there – but now you have all of these portals to go through and there are a thousand times more artists to compete with. There are more doors, but so many more artists going through those doors. The best thing, which is the most cliché thing that everyone says, but it’s stay original.
AMBY: Is there anything you’d like to do that you haven’t done in your career? Is there any kind of project or secret passion you haven’t explored yet and would like to?
Spoons: Writing a book was one of them – I’m of course a writer and I thought it would be so great if I could get a publishing deal. I just started doing acoustic-type shows and re-arranging songs which has been really liberating. I’d also like to do more soundtrack work and more music for film.
Thank you Spoons, for giving us your answers!
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Interview by Alicia Atout | @AliciaAtout