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Firefly Music Festival Band Q&A: The Spinto Band

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How’s that grade-school band commitment working out for you these days? For the Spinto Band, things are going swimmingly. Friends and bandmates for 15 years (and sure to be counting), Jon Eaton, Nick Krill, Tom and Sam Hughes, and Jeff and Joe Hobson are Delaware’s only homegrown talent performing at Firefly Music Festival. With three studio albums and one soundtrack under their belt, the band has certainly stayed busy over the years. We caught up with singer and guitarist Nick Krill a week before the Spinto Band’s performance to get the details on playing a festival venue, what it means to be Pop Deco and what’s in the band’s bag of necessities.

What’s Spinto’s backstory?

We’ve been together for awhile now; we’ve playing music together since we were teenagers. I went to the same school as Tom and Sam, and Tom and I were in the same grade through school and we met when we were 11 or so and started doing music together until 15, then he got his other friends involved in playing with us and we just spent a weekend recording some tracks in a basement, and it just took off from there. We just passed our 15-year anniversary as a band, which was Good Friday in 1998.

So Cool Cocoon launched in February, but you’ve also got a soundtrack under your belt too?

That came about through mutual friends. We had just finished Shy Pursuit and we’d been in the studio for a really long time and feeling a little worn out. I took a little vacation time, and at a friend’s birthday party I found out one of my friends was doing a film called Biba! One Island that needed a soundtrack. It was a nice excuse to get back into the studio without the weight that comes along with doing another brand new project or creating original music of your own from scratch. We already had the framework and limits to play around in with the documentary, and we took baby steps back in the studio try out our new ideas.

What is the documentary about?

Biba! One Island is a documentary that basically tells the story of a senate election in 2008. The island is a South Pacific territory of the United States with a crazy political history and system, which is a combination family-oriented tribal government and new influences of modern democracy.  The topic lends itself well to interesting musical choices, since what happened there was akin to the United States feeling out our own democracy. We were able to use traditional Hawaiian music mixed with the idea of Revolutionary folk songs to kind of create an interesting theme.

What is writing a soundtrack like compared to creating a studio album?

The biggest difference we found was that sometimes, what feels like a gut instinct for writing a pop song doesn’t translate well to a song for a film. In a pop song, if you’re listening to the music, that’s where the focus of your attention is. For a movie, it’s not the focus of your attention. What’s important is the thing that the talking head on the screen is saying. It was sort of an interesting learning experience to put down a track that sounds cool, but once the video is synced up, you find that it’s not really working or that it’s really distracting. We really tried to take the dialogue and visual and compose around it.

Your site describes your sound as Pop Deco. Care to elaborate?

I think that’s a jokey genre that we use. I would say maybe it’s inspired by Art Deco, which is very fun to look at, but also functional – it follows normal rules, and we take the normal rules of song and structure and try to make it striking.

What types of venues do you typically play?

It depends, but normally we’re in little rock clubs. We play larger venues and stages in Europe, where they have those kinds of festivals more often.

Favorite venue?

At the end of the day, so much of what’s great about a venue has to with the staff more than anything. My memories about venues with really great staffs are the Metro in Chicago, Johnny Brenda’s in Philly, and some great venues in France.

How did you get into Firefly?

Honestly, I’m not sure. Our booking pitched to them or they contacted us, and we just got an email and we signed on.

Did you go last year?

No, unfortunately I couldn’t go due to a conflict that weekend. It’s funny though, when we were kids, we had this sorta-fake dream that we’d put together a rock ‘n’ roll festival in Delaware, but I guess Dover beat us to it.

Have you ever played a venue like Firefly before?

One of the biggest changes is that it’s a lot faster-paced than smaller clubs. At those places, it’s your band’s show, you can kind of settle into sound-checking and testing everything out, and you’re right up close to everyone in this big ball of noise. At a festival, there’s a super quick turnaround, but it’s fun. I like the efficiency and it’s exciting to be thrown in there and go. It’s an adrenaline rush.

What kind of consideration goes into picking songs for your set?

There’s some consideration, but most of our songs translate pretty well. Some of our songs are quieter numbers that probably won’t translate to a large stage, but people are there just as much to hang out as they are to have a crazy time, so we’ll focus every bit of our attention on the concert to entertain the crowd and maybe the handful of people strolling by to make them stop and listen.

Everyone has essentials when traveling for music festivals, what are yours?

Earplugs will be on the top of the list, some snacks, some trail mix, maybe my autograph book (laughs).

When you’re not playing at Firefly, what are some of the sites you’re excited to check out?

I really am excited to see Foxygen, Public Enemy and Grizzly Bear. It should be a great time!

Visit spintoband.com.

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