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"You can print this on my tombstone if I'm wrong," says Jon E., drummer for Spoon Collection. "I'm in the right place at the right time."
Jon's bandmates, vocalist/guitarist S'aint Willy and bassist/backup vocalist Schneid, share this sunny sentiment. They believe they're perfect matches for each other and that this interpersonal harmony will eventually result in notable success in Colorado and beyond. At the same time, they aren't taking anything for granted. To them, Spoon Collection isn't just a hobby. It's a business--and they treat it like one. According to S'aint Willy, "You have to come across professionally, beginning with a decent promotional package. You can't send someone a Kmart cassette with pen written on it and misspellings, wrapped in tissue paper and tape. And, of course, you have to have good songs."
Fortunately, they do. The band's debut CD, On the Wall (released by Jaded Heart Music and available at most noncorporate music stores in the area), is an enjoyable compilation filled with basic pop potential. S'aint Willy, who wrote the majority of the tunes on the disc, admits, "The songs aren't terribly complicated. They're more melodic and not filled with lots of stupid riffs or things that are just trying to impress other musicians."
One of the reasons the three Spoons fit so well is that they've all been addicted to music since childhood. Jon, whose second cousin is Cheap Trick drummer Bun E. Carlos, began honing his percussive skills in elementary school. "I was in the All-American Marching Band. We played for Ronald Reagan," he boasts. For his part, S'aint Willy was already singing along with Roger Miller's "King of the Road" as a toddler. When he was old enough to express himself, he recalls, "I asked my parents for a guitar. First they bought me a plastic guitar that didn't really tune. Then they bought me a ukulele. Finally, when I was six, they bought me a real guitar." As for Schneid, he made do with considerably less. "I started playing air guitar in my bedroom with my tennis racket to old Kiss records when I was about seven years old," he confesses. "I would go through the whole album pretending I was Gene Simmons, then play it again and I'd be Paul Stanley."
After completing high school, Schneid joined the Army and served time in Germany, where he competed in talent shows. Upon returning to the States, he enrolled in the Colorado Institute of Art music and video program. "I wanted to be involved in music--maybe working in a record company or distribution company," he notes. S'aint Willy covered this same territory: He spent a couple of years in Los Angeles working for different labels and polishing his business acumen. He was already collaborating with Jon, a veteran of Christian, country and metal acts, when he and Schneid were introduced. The three players hit it off immediately.
"We had all been in other bands and knew the worst," Schneid says.
"So we definitely appreciate the upside," Jon chimes in.
S'aint Willy agrees. He likens finding a good drummer and bassist to dating. "You don't want to have to force compatibility," he points out. "We all have this similar direction. We're all focused on the same goal."
Together the performers create rock and roll that aspires to accessibility and universality. The lyrics to Wall's lead track, "Sedimental (The Letter Song)," and the catchy "Run to My Arms" deal with love and personal relationships, but S'aint Willy--whose smoky, yearning voice is one of the Collection's most memorable features--worries that he's overworked these subjects. "I'm concentrating real hard not to do that kind of song anymore," he concedes. "But I still want to write things that everybody can relate to. I've always preferred the kind of music where there's a chorus, and after it's done, you can sing it and somebody can tell you the name of the song."
"I think we just write and the songs come out," Jon elaborates. "And the good ones stick--not only with us, but with the audience."
At least one fellow music-scene regular hasn't been as supportive. S'aint Willy quotes him as saying, "You gotta make the snare drum sound weirder, man. It's too pop. I want to hear something sick and twisted."
"`Too pop'?" S'aint Willy asks. "You mean it might actually get some airplay?"
Thus far, a handful of radio stations have given On the Wall a try, and the band's live performances have converted a growing number of fans. It's too soon to tell where the Collection will go from here, but S'aint Willy isn't ready to stop now. "We want to make it in a real sense--not some abstract, I-want-to-be-a-rock-star-asshole sense," he says.
Still, Jon knows that it will take hard work to make it in any sense. "Some people, they're waiting for David Geffen to walk into Cricket on the Hill on a Tuesday night and see them play and say `You guys are the greatest thing I've ever seen,'" he claims. "Which is fine. But spin the big wheel and see where it lands--and it ain't gonna be on David Geffen being in the Cricket.