Tonight at the Pageant, theatrical synthpop act Fischerspooner will be making its St. Louis debut. The band recently released its third album, Entertainment, which I described in this week's paper as "a welcome comeback full of goth-pop squelches (the Faint-like "Infidels of the World Unite") and primitive, minimalist synthpop." I caught up with Casey Spooner in Boston, as the band headed to the venue -- and just after they bought a juicer and scented candles to make the bus smell better. (Preferred scent: lavender.)
Annie Zaleski: Tell me what the name of the tour, "Between Worlds," means to you in context of your record. Casey Spooner: Originally, we started developing the idea of a stand-alone theatrical performance that we were going to do with the Wooster Group. We weren't even going to play music venues - the idea is that we were going to make a hybrid between a pop show and a play. That was really when the name started kicking around. In general, that sort of applies to what we do. We're always between art and entertainment, in terms of having to combine all these things creatively and bring all these things together. Also, it can have a negative effect, in that we're in between business models sometimes, where the business of art and the business of entertainment can be in conflict with each other. Sometimes that in-between-ness that we like can also be a downfall for us.
I read that you contributed two songs to a production of Hamlet. Is there a difference in the way you would approach writing for that, in contact with, say, a record? Oh yeah the Hamlet thing was so easy, because the writing is so brilliant and it already had such an incredible structure in it, that it took me like two hours to whip a song out of it. Warren [Fischer] spends a lot of time trying to find a sound that he's stylistically drawn to, that is gratifying but also that he feels is going to have some lasting quality. That takes a while to find, and we didn't need to concern ourselves with that in writing something for the play.
You wrote the lyrics and melodies for Entertainment first, not having a musical backdrop. Does that make it more or less difficult for you? I wrote it with our touring band, so they would develop musical ideas So I was still working off of musical elements. But it was more like we were working really quickly, and the idea was to make as many snippets that we could hand over to Warren and he could pick and choose whatever direction he wanted to go with it.
That's an interesting way of working. You have to have a lot of trust in your partner. Oh yeah, well...the other thing, you have to really approach it like, what I'm making is about our relationship, and so it's not really about what I want, it's about what we both want. It's not about if one wants something and the other doesn't. Is there anything that you guys came up with that surprised you? "The Best Revenge." When he came in with that track, we had been working for a long time on another song, for like six weeks, and it felt like we were almost done. It was so classic Warren to be ninety-five percent done, and then he came in and basically destroyed the song and handed me another one. But the minute we heard it, it was like "Okay, it's really good." So we're going to stick with it.
I like that the Ssion is opening for you guys on the whole tour. They're a really great fit. How did you discover them? I love those guys. I met Lovefoxxx from CSS in Brazil, and we were hanging out and we went online and she was showing me some of her favorite stuff, showing me her favorite YouTube videos and everything. She was the one who turned me on to Ssion. I know [designer] Jeremy Scott, and Jeremy Scott had been in contact with Cody [Critcheloe], the singer. And Cody and I started a correspondence. We started emailing, and I told him what a big fan I was and how much I loved his record. and he wrote me back and he sent me a fan email that he had sent me in like the year 2000 - and my response that he had on file.
That's really touching. Yeah, it's cool. I like that, because it feels like there's this legacy of performance and image. It just seems like there's a similar sensibility that they're carrying on. It just feels like my brother.
I also liked your cover of R.E.M.'s "Fascinated," and wondered how it came about. Michael [Stipe]'s a friend of mine, and he just said, I have this song and it was never released, and I think it would be really great for you guys. He had mentioned it a couple years ago, and I remembered it at a certain point, and just contacted him and said 'We're working on the record, can I hear that song you said you wanted us to do?' He said it was a song that he always loved, but it never fit anywhere and they were never able to release it. He was super excited for us to take it and reinterpret it.
What's the biggest difference you've seen so far, touring without a label? I wish we had a little more marketing and promtion. I feel like a lot of people just don't know that we're out here, sometimes. But it's also really nice, because we don't have to explain ourselves to anyone, we're just doing our thing. In some ways, everything's faster, quicker and easier to do. You just pay for what you want to do. But it would be cool if I had big snipe posters all over town. That's really the only thing I miss are posters. Posters and stickers and cardboard cut-outs. The rest of it we got under control.
Are you making up for the lack of that stuff ? We do what we can. You just try to spread the word. It's more grassroots. I do more local press, like you.
Is there anything else you want to add? No, just come on down. The show's going great, the response has been amazing. Madonna came to our second show...
I would have been really intimidated by that. Oh, God, no. it was inspring and thrilling.
Was she in the VIP box? Oh yeah. It was a whole endeavor, with security and this and that. She came with Steven Kline, and Steven Kline and I had been talking about doing something together. He was coming, and I knew he was coming, and then he brought her. We did the first show in Philly, it was like a warm-up, and it was really our first show in Brooklyn, in my neighborhood, on home turf, kicking off the U.S. tour. And Madonna was there. It felt like a nice blessing.