Today, Austin indie rockers Spoon dropped their ninth studio release, Hot Thoughts in stores and online everywhere. The record is a great listen. We encourage you to pick up a copy or stream it on Spotify. Spoon has been working non-stop during SXSW, hosting a four-night residency at the old Emo's in addition to other events like today's free performance at Waterloo Records at 6 p.m. The album is not the only thing new in the popular Austin band's universe. The group recently added a new member, Gerardo Larios. AXS interviewed the musician yesterday to ask him about joining Spoon, playing on national television and how his life has changed now that a world tour is imminent.
Larios has been involved with the Austin music scene from a young age, frequently traveling to Austin to perform before relocating to the Live Music Capital of the World. Hailing from Mexico, the guitarist and keyboard player has performed with a myriad of bands. Larios was a member of afrobeat locals Hard Proof, Adrian Quesada's Echocentrics and Grupo Fantasma offshoot, Money Chicha before joining Spoon. He is married to a Texan and has two children.
AXS: Congratulations on becoming the newest member of Spoon. Was there ever a scenario where you imagined being part of the band before being asked to audition? Tell us how that all came about.
Gerardo Larios: Thanks! No, it never really crossed my mind that I would be part of the band. I met Jim Eno in 2006 at his studio and we kept in touch and became friends throughout the years. I came through Public Hi-Fi with several different bands that he produced or recorded (Hard Proof, Money Chicha, Echocentrics, etc.), so he knew I played guitar and keyboards. He called me one day and asked if we could do lunch. I didn't think anything of it. I figured he just wanted to hang or talk about a recent project we had going on at his studio. I was definitely surprised when he laid it on me.
The audition was crazy because I only had a few days to learn 4 songs, and get all the sounds right. At the same time, I already had commitments to play with 3 other bands that weekend, one of which I had never played with before, so I had to learn that material too. It was stressful to say the least, but of course it was all worth it.
AXS: How does working with Spoon differ from other bands you've been a part of? What has surprised you about how the band operates?
GL: What surprises me the most is seeing a band that has been together for 20+ years still be as enthusiastic about the music they create. They genuinely enjoy being around each other (as do I). Every show we do is just as important as the last one or the next one. Everyone takes it so seriously and gives it their all every single time. With Spoon, it always feels fresh and significant.
The other thing that really stands out to me is how cool and genuine these guys are. I've been "the new guy" in bands before, and there's always an awkward period, but these guys have been so nice and welcoming. They're real gentle men and real gentlemen.
AXS: Most of the projects you've been involved with have a world music element in the music be it Hard Proof, Echocentrics or Money Chicha. How does playing indie rock with Spoon differ? Do you find yourself approaching the material in a new way?
GL: I've always listened to a really wide range of music. Everything from the Beatles, to the Misfits, to Led Zeppelin, to Miles Davis, to Fela Kuti, and the list goes on and on. I grew up listening mostly to British and American rock and that's where my heart is. Playing in Spoon feels very natural to me.
AXS: You've done some limited touring but never an extended international tour like you're about to embark on with Spoon. How will you and your family prepare for your new schedule?
GL: I have to give 100% credit to my amazing wife for that. She is caring for our two small children while kicking ass at a very demanding full-time job. I couldn't do it without her. She's my hero. I owe her everything.
AXS: Spoon recently appeared on Jimmy Kimmel and James Corden's television shows. Was that the first time you've performed on TV? What was the experience like?
GL: I've performed on TV before but never on national TV. The experience was great because they treated us so kindly and made us very comfortable in both places. It was interesting seeing the process the prime time tv producers/crews go through, though. That's something I haven't seen before.
AXS: Spoon has a large presence at SXSW this year with the new record dropping. Talk about what that experience has been like performing with the band during the festival.
GL: Yes! Hot Thoughts is coming out tomorrow and everyone is very excited about it. I've done SXSW for the past 11 years and the best thing about this time around is that I don't have to lug my gear through police barricades and hordes of people! Seriously, though, the experience has been amazing. I think these shows have been our best ones yet since I've joined, and it always feels great to play to a home crowd.
I feel like I am in a good spot with learning all of the material, so I am able to have more fun on stage now instead of being super focused about not f*cking up. I still f*ck up though. Hopefully not enough so that they keep me around.
AXS: What music have you been listening to lately? Have you found anything new you're excited about?
GL: I know it's cliche, but I've been on a huge Beatles kick for the past year. I'll sit at the piano and sing Beatles songs to my son or daughter when they're having meltdowns and it usually calms them down. I just recently watched Anderson Paak's Tiny Desk Concert on NPR and I really liked it. My wife is constantly playing Israel Nash, who I like a lot as well. Not that they're new, but Hard Proof used to play with The Bright Light Social Hour and seeing them at the first night of our Spoon residency at SXSW reminded me how great they are.