Not My Job: We Quiz Spoon Frontman Britt Daniel On Soup

May 5, 2018
Originally published on May 7, 2018 8:44 am

Britt Daniel is the leader and co-founder of the Austin band Spoon — their latest album is "Hot Thoughts." We've invited him to play a game called "Mmm, mmm, good!" Three questions about soup.

Click the audio link above to see how he does.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

PETER SAGAL, HOST:

And now the game where we ask people to talk about things they neither know nor care about. It's called Not My Job. Britt Daniel, who grew up in a town a little ways from here, like the young people of Kentucky coal country, was forced to go into the industry that runs Austin, independent music.

(APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: One day...

(APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: ...He emerged from the mines with his band Spoon and some of the biggest hits of the 2000s. He joins us now. Britt Daniel, welcome to WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME.

BRITT DANIEL: Hey, how you doing?

(APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: So I know a lot of people move to Austin to get into music. But you didn't have to. You actually grew up near here, right?

DANIEL: I grew up in Temple. And yeah, so I moved down here, you know, theoretically to go to school.

SAGAL: Yeah. How'd that work out?

(LAUGHTER)

DANIEL: I did. I went to school.

SAGAL: Yeah.

DANIEL: But the idea in my mind was always this was a big music town, and that's what I wanted to do.

SAGAL: So did you - how young were you when you started playing music?

DANIEL: First band was probably 15.

SAGAL: Really?

DANIEL: I wish I'd started a little earlier.

SAGAL: (Laughter) Isn't 15 shallow enough?

DANIEL: Well, you just get better and better the longer you do something. And, you know, and I'm - for instance, my friend Conor Oberst. I met him when he was very young. And when he was 21 years old...

(APPLAUSE)

DANIEL: ...He was making records that were being compared to Dylan. And I was like, how can he do this when he's 21? The songs I was writing at that age were not up to that kind of...

SAGAL: Yeah, not as good, I guess. Yeah.

DANIEL: The reason why is because he was in bands since he was 11 years old or something, you know?

LUKE BURBANK: But most of those songs were about acne.

(LAUGHTER)

FAITH SALIE: What was the name of your band when you were 15?

DANIEL: The first band was called Zygotes, The Zygotes.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: The Zygotes, which is weird because...

BURBANK: Based on when you wanted to start playing music, right?

SAGAL: Yeah, exactly.

DANIEL: That would have been better.

SAGAL: So finally, of course, you founded the band Spoon. I guess we need to ask, why Spoon?

DANIEL: The name?

SAGAL: Yes.

DANIEL: It was - it's the name of a song by this band called Can. And it was another - you know, we had a...

SAGAL: So Can sang "Spoon."

DANIEL: Yeah, they sang "Spoon," right.

SAGAL: They sang "Spoon." So you're like, we will call ourselves Spoon and sing cans. And then the world is complete.

DANIEL: We didn't play any Can, but maybe that might have been a good idea.

SALIE: Britt, to you, is Spoon a noun or a verb?

DANIEL: It was always a noun, yeah.

SALIE: Oh, you're missing out.

(LAUGHTER)

DANIEL: Well, yeah, maybe you're right.

SAGAL: How did you know that Spoon was getting big? When do you find out?

DANIEL: You know, well, there were little - there were steps all along the way, you know, where we felt like things were working, you know, and it meant a lot to us to just be able to get - put a record out.

SAGAL: Yeah.

DANIEL: That was something, you know - somebody else wants to pay me to put out a record? That was new.

SALIE: I can show you my Spoon tattoo if you're not sure yet.

SAGAL: Was there a moment when you were like, oh my God we've made it? When you walked on stage at some particular venue, or you were invited to be on some TV show?

DANIEL: Well, OK. I was watching - my girlfriend gave me a DVD of Donald Duck.

(LAUGHTER)

DANIEL: He played at Radio City Music Hall. And I was about to play at Radio City Music Hall the next week. And I thought, wow, I've made it.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Wait a minute.

(APPLAUSE)

DANIEL: And we sold it out. We sold that place out.

SAGAL: Wait a minute. You're telling me it wasn't playing Radio City Music Hall.

DANIEL: It was knowing that Donald Duck had played it in this cartoon.

SAGAL: You - to know that you were following in the footsteps of Donald Duck?

DANIEL: Yeah, yeah, yeah. I mean, it was a cartoon from the '40s. And I was just like, wow, this is epic.

SAGAL: That's - I know. You're like the Donald Duck of the 2000s.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: I have actually always wondered about this. You, like I said, huge in the 2000s, especially with many hit records and - how do you deal with the problem that all popular bands have of people wanting to hear the hits, the stuff - the songs they know they can sing along with? Do you think about that? Do you say, OK, we should open with a familiar number, and then we can buy some time to do some new material?

DANIEL: It's fun both ways, you know, but there are a couple of, you know, hits that we don't play, you know, that we're just not quite as jazzed on.

SAGAL: Really?

DANIEL: Every now and then, I hear a request for those songs.

SAGAL: Yeah.

DANIEL: One of those we're bringing back on this next tour.

SAGAL: Really?

DANIEL: Yeah.

SAGAL: OK, cool.

DANIEL: We'll be out in May and June.

SAGAL: All right. One last question. Do you do the encore mime thing? Where you go offstage. You stand there. They applaud. You come back to do the encore you were planning on doing?

DANIEL: We - well, we honestly do always decide the encore songs when we go offstage.

SAGAL: Really? Have you ever - and I'm so curious about this because this drives me crazy - do you - have you ever gone offstage, and, like, they're applauding, and you're like, nope, they don't deserve an encore.

(LAUGHTER)

DANIEL: It's happened.

SAGAL: Really?

DANIEL: It's happened. Not many times, but it's happened.

SAGAL: Really?

DANIEL: Yeah.

SAGAL: And how do you decide? Do you look at each other and go, nah.

DANIEL: Uh-huh.

SAGAL: Wow.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Well, Britt Daniel, we are delighted to talk to you. And we have today asked you here to play a game we're calling...

BILL KURTIS: Mmm, Mmm, Good.

(LAUGHTER)

DANIEL: All right.

SAGAL: You front the band Spoon. Of course, we were going to ask you about soup.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Answer two questions quickly about soup. You'll win our prize for one of our listeners, the voice of anyone they choose on their voicemail. Bill, who is Britt Daniel playing for?

KURTIS: Ilana Panich-Linsman of Austin, Texas.

(APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: Austin?

(APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: First question. In 2011, Campbell's faced a lawsuit over their low-sodium tomato soup when consumers discovered what? A, it was, according to legal documents, quote, "mmm, mmm, bad," B, it had the exact same amount of sodium as their normal tomato soup or C, Campbells had replaced the sodium with trace amounts of cocaine?

(LAUGHTER)

DANIEL: I so want C to be it.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Wouldn't that be great?

DANIEL: I'm going to go with B on this one.

SAGAL: You were right. It had the same sodium. They lied. Campbell's lied. Next question. Pozole - you may have had it around here. It's a traditional Mexican soup made with hominy and pork.

(APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: Pozole fans, great. Pozole way back in the day used to be made a little differently than it is now with hominy and pork. What was it? A, early recipes show that instead of hominy, they used crushed-up Doritos, because that's what they had, B, the pork, many years ago, used to be human meat, but the Spanish banned cannibalism after they showed up or C, they used to mix yellow hominy and white hominy in an effort to achieve racial hominy?

(LAUGHTER)

DANIEL: I think C.

SAGAL: You're going to go for C? Racial hominy?

(LAUGHTER)

DANIEL: Well, no, I mean, maybe not for that reason.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: No, actually, it was B. Apparently, it was an Aztec dish with human meat in it. In fact, it was named for the guy who they used when they invented it, a guy named Zole. So it was like po Zole.

(LAUGHTER)

SALIE: You can't call it hominy. That's vomity.

SAGAL: All right. You have one more chance to win. Actor Larry Thomas played the soup Nazi in that very famous Seinfeld episode, and he has continued to parlay that central role in our culture into more acting work, such as this from just last year. A, he had a cameo in a low-budget film about a gay superhero in which he said the line, no superhero for you...

DANIEL: I could see that.

SAGAL: ...B, he tried to sell his own line of soups called Not Not the Nazi soup or C, he debuted his own version of Jerry Seinfeld's "Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee," a web series called "Supporting Actors In Subarus Eating Soup."

(LAUGHTER)

DANIEL: A.

SAGAL: You're going to go with A? And you're right, yes. No superhero for you.

(APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: Guess a guy's got to eat. Bill, how did Britt Daniel do on our quiz?

KURTIS: He loves to adapt. And he did it correctly. He got two out of three. A winner.

SAGAL: Congratulations.

(APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: Britt Daniel is the front man of the band Spoon. Their most recent album is "Hot Thoughts." The band is going on tour starting this month. More information is at spoontheband.com. Britt Daniel, thank you so much for joining us...

DANIEL: Thank you.

SAGAL: ...On WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME. Britt Daniel, everybody.

(SOUNDBITE OF SPOON SONG, "DO I HAVE TO TALK YOU INTO IT (LIVE)") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.