Ithaca, N.Y. — Spoon keyboardist Eric Harvey isn’t just lucky enough to be a part of one of indie rock’s most enduring groups; he’s also an accomplished solo singer/songwriter who recorded his latest album, 2012’s experimental and folksy Lake Disappointment, right here in Ithaca with a cast of local musicians.
Before last Friday’s epic State Theatre show that saw Harvey spend almost 3 hours on stage between his solo act and Spoon’s headlining set, The Ithaca Voice got the chance to talk with Eric Harvey and discuss his connection to Ithaca, the awkward thing about festival shows and what a Britt Daniel-less Spoon might sound like.
1 — On recording Lake Disappointment in Ithaca and his connection to Upstate New York:
I was born and raised in Rochester. My mom’s family is from Ithaca and I spent a lot of time here growing up. A close friend from college moved here in the late 90’s and introduced me to a number of musicians in town.
I stayed in touch with them over the years and enlisted their help on my solo record. Although I’ve spent the last twenty years living in cities, mostly in Texas, upstate NY is special to me. Ultimately I’d like to live here again. Rural settings are definitely a creative environment for me.
2 — On rejoining Spoon after a four-year hiatus:
I definitely had a fresh perspective when Spoon reconvened. Britt seemed somewhat changed by his experience with Divine Fits. There was definitely a different energy when we started working together again as Spoon, but it wasn’t immediately cohesive. It took some time before we actually made anything good.
3 — On the band writing “Outlier” without Britt Daniel:
Outlier was probably the least Spoon-like of the demos I gave Britt. Maybe that’s why it ended up on the record. I’ve tried writing music for Spoon over the years but it usually doesn’t make the cut. Britt strives for a certain aggressiveness in everything he does, which is not necessarily my strong suit. I love rock music, but my own songwriting is more informed by folk and electronic music as well as my classical training as a kid.
4 — On his expanding role as keyboard player:
I was pretty inexperienced when I joined Spoon. I didn’t have any professional touring or studio experience like the rest of the band so I had a lot of catching up to do. The role of the keyboards definitely expanded over the course of my first 6 years with the band. The task of translating the songs live became more complicated as the songs became sonically denser, especially the songs on Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga.
Most of my contributions around that time were in the context of the band’s live show: coming up with strategies for playing these complicated studio-intensive songs live, being able to convey all that detail while still rocking out.
5 — On his relationship with different Spoon albums:
Although I did co-write a few songs with Britt as far back as 2006, those contributions were few and far between.
For whatever reason, perhaps simply due to perseverance, my contributions on They Want My Soul are somewhat greater than on previous records. I feel more personally connected to this Spoon record than the last few, although Gimme Fiction, the first record I did with the band, is also very special to me. Those were good times.
6 — On playing the festival circuit versus headlining a theater:
Playing your own indoor headlining show allows for slightly different pacing. At festivals you’re expected to come out and hit people with everything you’ve got for an hour and then walk away. At a regular club show you can take your time and create more of a happening. And yes, knowing that the first five rows of people at a festival have been standing there all day waiting to see the DJ at the end of the night can be a little discouraging at times.
Lake Disappointment is available now via iTunes: