By Andy Downing
RedEye special contributor
4:39 PM CDT, October 14, 2012
The term "supergroup" gets tossed around all the time these days. In some cases the label is deserved (The Highwaymen quartet of Cash, Jennings, Nelson and Kristofferson doubled as a Mount Rushmore of outlaw country). Others, eh, not so much (see: Velvet Revolver).
Divine Fits, a newborn project that combines the talents of Spoon's Britt Daniel, Dan Boeckner of Wolf Parade and New Bomb Turks' Sam Brown, might not have the name recognition of other so-called supergroups, but the band's musical chemistry is undeniable. The crew's full-length debut, "A Thing Called Divine Fits," neatly splits the difference between Spoon's indie-rock minimalism and Wolf Parade's finely tuned pop majesty, arriving at a sound at once familiar and new. It helps, of course, that the bandmates share a mutual admiration for one another.
"I always loved what Dan was like onstage," said Daniel, 41, "And I thought it'd be fun to be in a band with him. So that's what we did."
Reached in Los Angeles, the Texas native opened up about his encounter with Ray Davies, turning 40 and why he was content to take a brief hiatus from Spoon.
What are the pluses and minuses of coming into this new project from fairly celebrated indie-rock groups?
I don't know that there are any minuses, other than people assuming it's a one-off record. I think some people think this is just some vanity project, so we'll have to convince them otherwise by playing 150 rock shows in the next year. The big thing is people are interested right from the beginning, and the last time I started a band that wasn't the case.
Spoon obviously has a well-established sound. Was it a challenge to break out from your comfort zone?
No. I wanted to do that, and it was fun. I wanted to be in a band where I wasn't writing all the songs and then singing all the songs onstage.
Did it take some time for you to find your voice together as Divine Fits rather than simply being Britt from Spoon and Dan from Wolf Parade?
It came together real fast and we didn't have too much time to think about it. At no point did we say, "Hey, let's combine the rock 'n' roll of this and the synths of this and come up with this." It just happened. There was no meeting in a boardroom deciding any of this. We started rehearsing in November , took some time off and then got together again in March to record.
So you and Dan first started playing together not long after you turned 40. Do you find your motivations for making music start to change as you get older?
I don't know if it has changed. There are different results now than when I was younger, both in terms of the quality and what happens with the songs and how many people get to hear them. But I still feel I have this need to do it. It's the one thing I want to do the most.
I really dug the Nick Cave cover ("Shivers"). Have you ever met Nick Cave?
No I haven't, but it's funny because our producer [Nick Launay] made the last four, five or six Nick Cave records, including Grinderman.
Do you get intimidated meeting your musical idols?
It depends on my mood and who it is and the circumstances. Sometimes it's totally cool meeting people you've listened to for years, and sometimes it's more awkward.
Have you had any particularly memorable meet-ups?
Spoon recorded with [Kinks singer] Ray Davies a couple years ago and that was really fun. I remember being bummed out at the end of the day that Ray Davies and I weren't buddies. He was such a great guy and at the end I felt like, "Maybe we can hang out and go get a drink next week." But that wasn't going to happen. He was going one way and we were going the other.
So is there anything new to report on the Spoon front?
Not really. The last time we played a show was a few months ago. We're going to make another record after I get done with [Divine Fits].
You wrote the song "Like Ice Cream." Do you have a favorite flavor?
Of ice cream? I think vanilla. It's the classiest flavor.
I suppose that falls right in line with Spoon's tendency towards minimalism.
[Laughs] Well mint is pretty good, too. I think I just like the smooth ice creams the most.
Divine Fits, 7 p.m. Oct. 25 at Logan Square Auditorium, $20
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