All this week, Behind the Setlist is previewing Volume, a music festival in Spokane, Washington that features 100 artists in 10 different venues across two days. Our Spokane team will be on the ground May 31 and June 1. Until then? We are listening to as many artists as we can, previewing those who turn our ears.
Pro Tip: Check out the official Volume Spotify playlist for a taste of every band.
Spiral Stairs @ Lucky You Lounge on May 31
Pavement co-founder Scott Kannberg will be at Volume Festival with his solo project, Spiral Stairs. His latest record—the third underneath the Spiral Stairs name—called We Wanna Be Hyp-No-Tized was released this last March. The album is his most accessible to date, with tight compositions, big hooks, and a polished production. There’s still a twisted twinge to it, however, a base layer of grime beneath the shine that hints at something sinister. Do we wanna be hpy-no-tized? Yes. Yes we do.
We spoke with Kannberg over email. The conversation has been lightly edited for length and clarity.
Have you enjoyed playing the new material live?
Yes. It’s been really fun. My band is really good, so it frees me up to be more of a frontman. I used to hide behind the guitar a bit. The new songs lend themselves to more of a freedom onstage.
“Hyp-No-Tyzed” is such a creative and contagious song. Any insight into its composition?
It started out as most of my songs as a demo, and I just piled on melodies, etc. I’ve had it around since the last album, so it’s always been in the back of my mind. It used to run for over five minutes. It was great to strip it down to a simple three minute-plus song.
The studio version of “Hold On (Til I Figure It Out)” has so many fun layers to it, especially in the middle of the track. Was this a “kitchen sink” type song or were you intentional about each layer? How did you know it was “done”?
I wanted to put it out as a b-side initially, but it grew on me once I put it in the order of the album. It has one too many verses in my opinion, but the story needed to be told.
What is your favorite song to play live right now?
“Hold On” or “Dear Husband.”
What goes into making a great setlist?
You need to engage your crowd with song one and then keep it up. Geez, that sounds so corporate. I basically just put the songs I envision my fans would want to hear. I might put in a few that are special to me as well. Like Nick Lowe’s “Truth Drug”!
You’ll be playing in Spokane for Volume Festival on May 31. If a random Spokanite comes through the door, what kind of show will they see?
Roxy music mixed with the Replacements. I have a few friends in Spokane, so it’ll be fun to play for them finally. My father, who lives in Montana, will be there selling t-shirts and signing autographs as well. He recently starred in my video for “Hypnotized.”
Any other plans after your tour this summer?
Back to Mexico. Then a family vacation in Italy and France. Seeing Bryan Ferry in concert in August. Then back to Europe to tour with Wilco. Then trying to write the next record.