Built To Spill is a rock ‘n’ roll anomaly. Despite signing to Warner Bros. Records in 1995, the Idaho-based rock band has kept complete creative control of their music, as well as the indie-cred that got them there.
Bandleader Doug Martsch (vocals/guitar) has been around for the entirety of their nearly 25-year run, and has no plans to stop any time soon. Last year, Martsch and Co. released “Untethered Moon,” Built To Spill’s first album in six years and eighth overall.
DiscoverSD spoke with Martsch about the new tour, working with a musical hero, and the band’s impending 25-year milestone.
Q: What’s different about this run of “Untethered Moon” shows?
A: We’ve always made our money off of touring and not really from records anyway. So in my mind, they’re not that closely tied. I don’t feel like we’re ever out touring to support a record. But on this trip, we’ll be mostly playing the new record. And I really don’t know what the reason is behind it. We like these songs and they’re fun to play. So we’re going to play almost the entire thing. We did a bunch of touring last year and only played three, sometimes four, songs from it. But there is actually no rhyme or reason to what we do most of the time.
Q: What was it like to work with a producer like Sam Coomes ( Elliott Smith, Quasi, Heatmiser)?
A: He’s like a hero to us, but he’s also a fan of the band. So he was very enthusiastic about working with us as well. It was wonderful. He’s a no-nonsense guy, well organized and has a real punk spirit about him. He’s somebody that you can trust and he’s not going to b------t you. I took everything he said very seriously. And he didn’t say a lot. It was more about just getting us going. He kept us on task in keeping the record stripped down and simple. And that’s something I really wanted to do anyway.
People strive in all kinds of different situations. But for me, I like to have positive energy. It was a blast to work with him.
Built To Spill
When: 9 p.m. Feb. 14 and 15
Where: Casbah, 2501 Kettner Blvd., San Diego
Q: The band will hit the 25-year mark very soon. Do you give it any thought?
A: I don’t spend too much time thinking about it. But when I do, in moments like right now, I think that I’m a person who thought music would be a fun hobby to do for as long as I could. But I never thought that I’d make any money or I’d have a career. I never thought that strangers would come and see our shows for years or anything like that. But after doing this for almost 25 years, I’m used to this existence now. And when I do actually stop and think about it, I am pretty blown away by this life.
Scott McDonald is a writer, on-air personality and consultant with 15 years of experience in the San Diego music scene. He has interviewed hundreds of artists, from the legendary to the underground, for print and television. Follow McDonald and his melodic musings on Twitter @eight24_ or Instagram @scotteight24. Send your music musts to firstname.lastname@example.org.