Built to Spill Interview

Built To Spilll Intro 750px

 

Even if you’re not familiar with Built to Spill, you’ve probably heard them in a skate video. They’ve been around since ’92 when Doug Martsch recruited the band with the intention of replacing them with every album. Now, over 25 years later, there has only been a few changes with Doug remaining as the constant. We killed some time 
before their set talking about the band, the magnetic pull of Idaho and skate videos. —Jordan Joseffer

Why’d you name the band Built to Spill? Were you bad at holding drinks?
Ha! It was a game my wife and I played where we’d take turns writing a word. She’d write a word, then I’d write a word and we’d make up poems and stories. So when I was trying to come up with a band name we went back through them together to see if there was anything interesting and it was a part of that.

You’re from Boise and lived in Portland. What do you like about the Pacific Northwest?
Well, I ended up in Boise because I kind of grew up there and ended up following my wife back to go to school after I lived in Seattle for awhile. You know, if you’re from Idaho you kind of gravitate to Portland or Seattle, pretty much. Maybe San Francisco a little bit but those are the big cities that you move away to and I got sucked back. It’s alright.

 

Built To Spilll PQ 750px
Your music has been used a lot in skate videos throughout the years. Why do you think it pairs so well with skating?
I don’t know. We are kinda picky about who we do stuff with. We don’t like to license much to any commercials or very many TV or movie things, but we’ve always basically given it away for free to skate videos. Every once in awhile we’ve gotten paid, but skate videos, snowboard videos, surf videos, if anyone approaches us we say yes because that’s where we’ve gotten all of our raddest fans. I don’t do any of that stuff and I never did but some of my greatest friends and Built to Spill’s greatest fans have been people who are into that stuff.

Yeah, a lot of people find music through skate videos. That’s how I heard you guys for the first time.
It happens all the time. People will say, “Oh yeah, that song. so and so skated to it!” It gives them enough time for the song to get it in their head. They might have heard it once and been, like, whatever, but then they watch it over and over again and the song sinks in and becomes attached to something they’re excited about. It’s better than a music video for us.

Are you familiar with any specific skate videos that used your music.
Nope. People can’t believe I don’t know what they’re talking about, but I really don’t know.

I heard with each album you wanted the lineup to change. Is that an intentional way to keep the music evolving?
Yeah, the original idea was that and also I had been in a band for a bunch of years that was a real tight-knit group of people. There was a couple brothers in the band and there was some emotional issues—some fallout and stuff—and I wanted to avoid that as well. I wanted to be with a group of people where we were all enjoying each other’s company and not getting on each other’s nerves too much, so I thought it would help with that as well. Also, at the time, I was making a record in Idaho and I was planning on moving away from Idaho. So that was another reason. I was going to change the lineup anyway but I wanted to start to establish the band’s name. Over the years there has been a lot of lineup changes but not that many and not because of that reason. After we made maybe our third record, I was playing with Brett Nelson and Scott Plouf and I wanted to solidify the lineup so we could get good. Switching lineups overtime is hard. Everyone plays differently. I wanted to develop a sound and I wanted more contribution and people to have more of a stake in the band so I bagged that idea.

What are you plans for the future? New albums, touring?
We’ve been doing one-off gigs but we are going to tour a bunch soon. We are going all over the country. We’ve been working on songs for a few years and hopefully those will come together in the next year or so and the record 
will come out in a couple of years.

 

  • Third Eye Blind Interview

    Third Eye Blind Interview
    After millions of album sales since the mid-90s, Third Eye Blind frontman Stephan Jenkins continues to make music without compromise or concern about radio hits and pop charts. He features Cher Strauberry in his newest video and she sat with him for an interview.
  • Creature x Gwar

    Creature x Gwar
    Chris Russell gets sacrificed onstage with Gwar for their Creature collab. Get a board with some gore, you maggots. 
  • Run The Jewels Interview

    Run The Jewels Interview
    Not many musical acts bridge the gap between hip-hop's "Golden Era" and those who seek fresh new sounds. Run The Jewels stands tall over this divide. Killer Mike and El-P already each had a rich legacy and their combined forces have produced something unique.
  • The Shrine's "Born To Waste Away" Music Video

    The Shrine's "Born To Waste Away" Music Video
    The Shrine’s raw new music vid pushes back on the American Dream in LA and helps give funds to protestors for legal aid. Bump this on your next bowl session. 
  • Hacksaw Interview

    Hacksaw Interview
    Hacksaw's music is not here for your enjoyment. It exists to pummel you into submission. We caught up with these heavy noise makers, but we were particularly curious about guitarist/skater Mike Hell's perspective and ethics of eating garbage straight from the can. 
  • Cobra Man Interview

    Cobra Man Interview
    Musical act Cobra Man was conceived from the fire of skate videos but it has now grown into its own groovy, dance-music monster. The band's DNA is shared with the skate pscyhos over at Worble and their tunes are hot and heavy throughout the new vid Party Destroyer.
  • Soccer Mommy Interview

    Soccer Mommy Interview
    Blending genres of different musical eras, Sophie Allison AKA "Soccer Mommy" has crafted her own unique sound. She's a true songwriter and Atiba Jefferson had the honor of directing her latest video which, of course, involves skating.
  • Jeff Ament: Rock Stardom to Skate Philanthropy

    Jeff Ament: Rock Stardom to Skate Philanthropy
    Selling 85 million albums worldwide is quite an accomplishment. But Pearl Jam bassist Jeff Ament has another epic legacy. He has been pivotal in getting skateparks built in underserved rural areas including many Native American reservations. Here he talks about his roots in music and skating.
  • Grind and Slam in Amsterdam

    Grind and Slam in Amsterdam
    If you’re near the Netherlands this month, make sure you get over to Skatepark Noord’s Grind and Slam event for a damn good time skating and circle-pitting to Vitamin X and Kaak. Check the crucial details on the flyer and learn the 24-hour clock while you’re at it. 
  • Death Match Austin 2020

    Death Match Austin 2020
    As many of you know, on March 6th the City of Austin issued a disaster declaration, cancelling SXSW in light of concerns relating to the COVID-19 virus. As a result, the Death Match on March 19-21 has been cancelled.