If you're looking for impartiality, you won't find it in this article, because Built to Spill is one of my favorite bands of all time. I'm biased. I was 20 the first time I heard "Perfect From Now On," the band's 1997 album. It helped me through many dark days, exposed me to what a truly flawless album sounded like, and made me a fan of Doug Martsch and Built to Spill for life.
Lead singer, primary songwriter and guitarist Doug Martsch formed Built to Spill in 1992 with Brett Netson and Ralf Youtz. Martsch initially viewed the band as having an ever-shifting lineup with only himself as the constant, but after a few rough tours and members that just didn't gel, he solidified the core group. In 2013, he brought in Steve Gere on drums and Jason Albertini on bass and recorded 2015's "Untethered Moon," their strongest outing since 1999's "Keep it Like a Secret."
Recently, I interviewed Martsch about opening for Foo Fighters and the pointlessness of looking back.
Source Weekly: You've come through Bend, played at the Les Schwab Amphitheater and opened for bands like Deathcab. Do you enjoy being support for those big outdoor shows, or do you like the more intimate venues where you know everybody is there for you?
Doug Martsch: I like them both. When I was younger we were on our second or third tour. We went to Europe supporting the Foo Fighters. They had just come out and just become a band. I didn't think they were going to be very popular or anything and it turned out they were really popular and it was kind of a horrible experience. Built to Spill at that time was kind of a weird lineup.
SW: How so?
DM: We weren't very good or well rehearsed. We were all just young, inexperienced musicians. We just weren't a very good band and the Foo Fighters weren't having it. It was kind of a horrible tour. It had its moments but a lot of it was just a drag. And so I swore I didn't want to do that anymore. I only wanted to play for people that came out to see us play.
SW: Which you did for a long time.
DM: For the most part, we did that for 15 years or something. Then after years of playing and touring a bunch and getting a better band together, I was super proud of what we were doing so I jumped at the opportunity to open for someone. We went on tour with Kings of Leon. We're playing for thousands of people and they're just milling around. They don't give a shit. I mean, they're still having a blast because the band is good. But you know there are only a handful of people in the audience that are getting it.
SW: Do you think you would be able to be as creative in your songwriting if you were constrained more in your time limit?
DM: I don't know. Maybe if I had to do it I would just work more and spend less time f*%$ing around.
SW: Do you look back on your discography and have a record that you love the most or, because so much work went into them, do you love each one equally?
DM: I don't find myself looking back at it at all, you know what I mean? I don't have a favorite one. I really, seriously try to look forward still at this point. Maybe the next one will be the last one and I'll start thinking about the past or something. I still feel like we have some stuff to do, improvements to make, and I feel like our best record is yet to come. To my mind. That doesn't mean anything to anyone else. There's no way a band can surpass the record that they made when you were a teenager when you got it, you know? Even if they made a record that was much better. It has more to do with the listener than with the record, in my mind.
Built to Spill
Sunday, July 3, 7pm
51 NW Greenwood Ave., Bend