Built to Spill guitarist Brett Netson admitted that the recording process seems to be getting tougher—even though the group’s now been around for more than two decades.
“I think as the time goes on long enough, you have to obviously come up with something new—and the more you do, the more difficult it is to come up with something new,” Netson said during a recent phone interview. “It seems to be a slower process, and I don’t even know why. What you hope for as you get older is to have a more refined record—qnd ideally, that’s what happens. On a bad day, you make a crappy record. We do the best we can do.”
Built to Spill will be performing at Pappy and Harriet’s on Thursday, July 16, to support the band’s new album, Untethered Moon. It took a surprisingly long time for the album to come to fruition. Built to Spill went into the studio and recorded an album in 2012. However, frontman Doug Martsch was unsatisfied with the material; the resulting frustration led to the departure of members Brett Nelson and Scott Plouf. The remaining band pulled together and returned to the studio to record Untethered Moon.
“You could compare it to old blues records. On the older records, they didn’t have a lot of options,” Netson said about Untethered Moon. “They just sort of worked it out in real time and then just ended up with the thing that was supposed to be there. If you can do that, it’s great.”
Built to Spill has been on Warner Bros. since 1997’s Perfect From Now On. The band enjoys more creative control over the direction of its records than most bands do. Netson said the deal has been renegotiated over the years, but that it still works for them.
“We get by on a smaller budget now than we did back in the day,” he said. “We had better options, and they renegotiated the whole deal.”
Built to Spill is often cited as an influence by up-and-coming bands. Netson said it’s humbling when the band is mentioned.
“When you’re a band like us, touring across the country playing shows day in and day out, there’s really no showbiz happening,” he said. “When you’re working in the studio, you don’t have people around you telling you how great you are, and you’re just trying to do your thing. It’s really cool, and at the same time, you appreciate it. It’s very gratifying.”
When Built to Spill started in 1992, Doug Martsch said during an interview with Spin that the band would always have a revolving lineup. Netson himself was out of the band in 1994 during the recording sessions for There’s Nothing Wrong With Love, but returned for Perfect From Now On.
“Back when the band first started 23 years ago, that was the idea,” Netson said. “When Ralf Youtz and Brett Nelson started playing, that lasted for a couple of years, and that didn’t work for them. I think Doug gave up on (the revolving lineup idea), because when you get a new band, you have to teach them all of these songs. There are a lot of parts to all these songs, and the chemistry and the vocabulary of the band sort of suffers when you get new people all the time. Brett and Ralf’s departure had nothing to do with the band having a revolving door of band members; it was more they quit, and nobody really expected them to quit. With the new lineup, we had to put in 10-hour practices all week long for the next tour—and they’re incredible players.”
Netson said that the band’s members are content with where the band is now.
“I think if anything changes in the future for this band, it would only be because of money or resources,” Netson said. “Everybody likes playing together, and we have the best players you could ever hope to find.
“I guess I’m OK, too,” he added with a laugh.
Built to Spill will perform at 8 p.m., Thursday, July 16, at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, in Pioneertown. Tickets are $25. For tickets or more information, call 760-365-5956, or visit www.pappyandharriets.com.