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Here’s a scoop: Spoon continues its rise to the top of rock

Spoon (from left) are Britt Daniel, Rob Pope, Jim Eno, and Eric Harvey. Spoon (from left) are Britt Daniel, Rob Pope, Jim Eno, and Eric Harvey. (Jim Cooper/Associated Press)
By David Bauder
Associated Press / March 19, 2010

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NEW YORK — Britt Daniel can’t resist some dry humor when asked what it means to him that his band, Spoon, sold out a gig at New York’s prestigious and spacious Radio City Music Hall weeks in advance.

“We sold all the tickets,’’ the singer deadpanned.

Probe a little and you’ll catch some pride that the sellout was accomplished without advertising, despite advice that they needed it.

The propulsive rock band from Austin, Texas — scheduled to play the House of Blues in Boston on March 27 — is a rarity in today’s music business. It’s an act that has honed its craft over many years and continues to pick up more and more dedicated fans as it goes along. Seventeen years after Daniel and drummer Jim Eno got together, the arrow keeps pointing up.

The band’s 2001 album, “Girls Can Tell,’’ sold 100,000 copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan. The next two discs registered 157,000 and 220,000 sales. The 2007 album, “Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga,’’ sold 325,000 copies and earned Spoon a gig on NBC’s “Saturday Night Live.’’ The new disc, “Transference,’’ is just starting out.

“So many bands lose their heads when one day they’re playing to 40 people and two weeks later they’re playing to 2,000,’’ said bass player Rob Pope. “That just shakes things up a little too much. You kind of lose your perspective of how to be a band at that point. For us, since I’ve been in the band, the work ethic has always been pretty high and that’s translated into the band’s upward trajectory.’’

For Daniel, the difference is desire.

“It seems like a lot of people, and a lot of people who make great records, are in bands for the time being — ‘This is something I’m going to do for a while, this is a hoot, and I’m going to get on with my life,’ ’’ he said. “I wanted to do this for my life.’’

The band’s taut sound is dominated by Daniel’s guitar and nervous-energy songs, and Eno’s creative rhythms. More than most bands today, Spoon is dominated by that rhythmic intensity. “It is pretty crazy that this has been together for so long,’’ Eno said. “There’s a consistency to a Spoon record that I don’t think you get with a lot of other bands.’’

That consistency also lets Spoon explore other ideas, like the horns on “Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga,’’ without fans feeling like they’ve happened upon an entirely different band.

Spoon has an interesting personal dynamic, too. Daniel writes and sings the songs, making him clearly the leader, and both he and Eno are the band’s veteran core. They seem almost like big brothers to Pope and Eric Harvey, who both joined within the past five years. Pope has a puppy-dog energy. Harvey seems to be a member as much for his keyboard and guitar skills — Spoon could have had anybody and chose someone who’d never been in a band — as for being the kind of guy you wouldn’t mind hanging out with backstage every night for a few months.