Unlike “Moonwink,” the 2008 follow-up to “Nice and Nicely Done” that was recorded for the Philadelphia-based label Park the Van over the course of a month in a studio in Los Angeles, “Shy Pursuit” was recorded piecemeal dating back to early 2010 with Krill as engineer and the band as a whole as producer. The Spintos used every inch of their studio/hideout and the cavalcade of instruments that fill it. They even recorded in an echoey chicken coop nearby.
The idea was to record on their own and either have the album picked up by a label or to release it themselves, as more and more bands are doing as the music business continues to crumble. They couldn’t find a good match, so they decided to go back to the future and do it all on their own, just like they did as kids.
On “Take It,” which has its own hilarious video, Krill lays down a beautiful guitar solo, something not often found on Spinto songs. “That’s as much jamming as you’ll get,” Krill says. And that’s all the listener really needs. Since the solo stands out so much on the album, it’s even more powerful. The album is the band’s shortest — no song is over four minutes — and tightly-crafted, keeping with the Spinto trademark built with fellow band members keyboardist Sam Hughes, 26, of Philadelphia, and drummer Jeff Hobson, 28, of West Chester, Pa. The boys obviously don’t need a producer standing over them to keep themselves reined in. “I personally like concise music,” Krill adds, “and that’s what I like to make.” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fn7kS1HOEXo
The album’s most unanticipated moment comes halfway through on the stand-out “Leave Yourself Alone,” the first song sung and written by guitarist Joey Hobson, 25, of Landenberg, Pa. And what a first song it is — a moody, New Wave-tinged sad tale of a seemingly rudderless girl named “little Lucy.” Hobson says the song began with a sound he made using a KORG synthesizer program on his Nintendo DS. “It’s all new to me,” he says of his first foray into songwriting. “Apparently, I write depressing songs for some reason. It just comes out.”
The Spintos have always had a tight bond with their fans, keeping a couple of websites and blogs to stay directly connected to their equally artsy fan base. But now that they are on their own, that close contact has grown, offering fans a bigger stake in exchange for cash, like many bands with dedicated fan bases do these days.
On its website
, the band is not only selling the album, but there is also a “Shy Pursuit Super Pack” for $49.99 that includes an autographed Polaroid photo of the band, notes from the recording of the album, a special blue vinyl copy of the record, a T-shirt and other goodies. And if you have even more to spend, the band hand-painted a record player that you can buy for $375 and fans can even have a song written and recorded about them (or their gerbil, as the band jokes) for $500. The band will also be transformed into its own video game that can be played on cell phones with fans able to play as their favorite band member.
“It didn’t feel contrived or anything, because we usually do it,” Krill says of the band’s bigger role as salesman. “But now we are just thinking about it more.”
Since the band members have known each other for nearly their entire lives — and have lived and worked in close quarters — there’s a Spinto shorthand that has emerged over the years, especially while recording. A non-traditional vocabulary that they find hard to shake when they work with other acts. (Earlier this year, singer/bassist Thomas Hughes, 29, of Wilmington, toured as a member of The Magic Tapes, an experimental project of Elephant 6 member Julian Koster. They opened several shows for the sometimes-reclusive Neutral Milk Hotel frontman Jeff Magnum.)
Sometimes they tell drummer Jeff Hobson to play a “monster beat” or a “lipstick beat,” which has a disco sound. Or Krill can say they need to put “perfume” on a track and everyone knows exactly what he means. It’s that comfort that made recording without a producer for the first time in a long time pretty smooth.
“We learned again how to deal with ourselves as studio musicians,” says Krill, who adds that the band has already begun working on a follow-up. “The last few times, there was always somebody there to be the captain of the ship. I like the idea that we only have ourselves to answer to.”
IF YOU GO
Who: Record Store Day Eve performance by The Spinto Band
Where: Rainbow Records, 54 E. Main St., Newark
When: Friday, 7 p.m.
Who: The Spinto Band with The Sin City Band
Where: Dogfish Head Brewings & Eats, 320 Rehoboth Ave., Rehoboth Beach
When: May 5, 10 p.m.