On April 13, Built to Spill (BTS) makes its way to Santa Barbara for a night filled with shimmering guitar riffs and wistful indie rock at SOhO Restaurant & Music Club. The 22-year-old band is gearing up to release its first new album in six years with an almost entirely new band lineup to boot. In the following months, BTS will also return to the touring circuit to jam alongside acts such as Death Cab for Cutie and Brand New and play Coachella, Treefort, and Shaky Knees music festivals.
After scrapping an entire album’s worth of material a few years back, Built to Spill’s forthcoming record, Untethered Moon, is the first to include bassist Jason Albertini and drummer Steve Gere alongside lead singer/guitarist Doug Martsch. When asked about the six-year gap between the band’s upcoming album and the last one, Martsch explains, “In 2012, I was a bit burned out on my ability to make new music. We actually recorded an album that year, and then we went on tour. The rhythm section guys quit the band, so we started over … it actually felt really good to start fresh.”
But these won’t be the first shows with the band’s new members, Martsch clarifies. The current Built to Spill lineup toured together for the first time a year after the previous members left the band. “These guys have actually been in the band for two years, and we’ve been touring since then,” Martsch explains. “We toured a ton in 2013, and I’m excited about getting back on tour and playing with them. Our new drummer is really amazing. He has a distinctive style that gives our new album really exciting percussion.”
While they’ve been credited as inspiring indie-rock mainstays like Modest Mouse, The Strokes, Brand New, and Death Cab, Built to Spill’s frontman says he doesn’t listen to much music while recording. However, Martsch confessed that the Untethered Moon album was influenced primarily by upcoming independent artists, citing Canadian indie band Slam Dunk as a major source of inspiration. “I don’t have a problem with people emulating other people,” Martsch explains. “People try to emulate the music of bands that they like, and that produces great creativity. Music doesn’t come out of a vacuum — it’s a shared experience. Playing with and listening to different bands is important if you are a musician. I think a lot of musicians get so hung up on the idea of being original that they end up making crap music.”
And Martsch assures us that there will be no crap music on Untethered Moon — he abandoned an almost completed full-length just to make sure of it. “The guys and I worked really hard for a long time on that [scrapped] album,” Martsch recalled. “We were almost done with it, but I didn’t really like it. We reworked a lot of those songs and rewrote a lot of their parts, so I feel confident that the new album is much better.”
Untethered Moon is the group’s eighth studio album and is produced by Martsch and fellow Northwest indie rocker Sam Coomes (of Quasi fame). Warner Bros Records will release the album on Tuesday, April 21, though vinyl will hit the shelves of a record store near you just a tad earlier on April 18, just in time for Record Store Day.
Built to Spill plays a 21+ show at SOhO Restaurant & Music Club (1221 State St.) on Monday, April 13, at 8 p.m. with openers Braided Waves. For tickets and info, call (805) 962-7776 or visit sohosb.com.