The Spoons – Stick Figure Neighborhood

As lead singer/chief songwriter of The Spoons, Gord Deppe is also the band’s self- appointed historian. Understanding that none of his band’s original four recordings were ever released on compact disc, Deppe has set about correcting this oversight by using anniversary dates to re-release those early records on CD in conjunction with Sparks Entertainment and Universal Music Canada.

Late last year, the band successfully re-released their “Arias and Symphonies” record as a CD, adding additional live tracks and giving renewed radio exposure to the title track and to mega hit `Nova Heart’. Now is the turn of their debut release “Stick Figure Neighbourhood”, a recording noted for the engineering contribution of Hamilton’s Daniel Lanois, who later enjoyed success producing key records for U2.

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“We’re a little out of sync releasing “Stick Figure Neighbourhood” after “Arias and Symphonies” but we were trying to hold true to the exact anniversary dates,” noted Deppe. “And with “Talkback” set to be released next year, there was a danger of us overlapping these releases.

Released in 1981 on Ready Records, “Stick Figure Neighbourhood” saw The Spoons; which comprised of lead vocalist/lead singer Deppe, bassist Sandy Horne, keyboardist Rob Preuss and drummer Derrick Ross experimenting with a New Wave direction after initially being influenced by the Progressive Rock sounds of King Crimson and early Genesis.

“I had seen The Talking Heads on Saturday Night Live and it was like, that’s us!” reflected Deppe. “There’s David Byrne, this nerdy, outcast kind of guy, I could totally relate to him and the Heads had a female bass player, just like us. It was like wow! We are Burlington Ontario’s Talking Heads!”

Stick Figure Neighbourhood
Stick Figure Neighbourhood Stick Figure Neighbourhood - Spoons

In Ready Records’ Angus McKay and Andy Crosbie, the Spoons found a record company which allowed the band, free rein to experiment with their new sound. And when they found out that a Hamilton Ontario engineer called Daniel Lanois had his own studios (Grant Avenue) and had just worked with Brian Eno, The Spoons were anxious to follow suit.

“We definitely got the feeling something was happening at Grant Avenue,” allowed Deppe. “Daniel let us be ourselves, be raw and do our own thing. Listening to it now, the record was a little rough around the edges but you can tell our sound was evolving into what became Arias And Symphonies.

Deppe admits there were no singles on “Stick Figure Neighbourhood. “We didn’t work radio at all and Andy and Angus encouraged us to develop our sound and not worry about hit singles, said the Spoons’ frontman. “Yet we were fortunate that CFNY Radio was championing the new wave movement and they got behind our album. I remember station music director Dave Marsden playing our entire album and interviewing us at the station, that was really big for us. College radio followed suit and we were able to execute a national tour based on the strength of that exposure.”

[quote]“Retrospectively, “Stick Figure Neighbourhood provides a nice snapshot of where the band was in 1981,”[/quote]Deppe notes that a couple of the 11 songs in particular, `Conventional Belief’ and `Red Light’ reflected the band’s growing maturity and in retrospect, the album put down a marker on the band’s future growth. There was no drum machines of their debut, , ”We just tape looped notes off a regular household organ and used them and we had Hugh Syme play mellotron on two tracks – but that was about it”, explained Deppe.”

Unlike “Arias and Symphonies” there are no additional tracks added to this re-release of “Stick Finger Neighbourhood as Linus are also issuing a companion vinyl release. “What we are doing is making available our very first song “Alphabet Eyes” which we originally only recorded on cassette,” offered Deppe.

The lead vocalist notes The Spoons are active this year, having just appeared at their hometown Sound Of Music festival and is planning on recording new material in the near future. “I am not someone who constantly cranks out new songs,” explained Deppe. “But in between all these anniversary releases, I am sure I’ll come up with something new eventually.”

“Retrospectively, “Stick Figure Neighbourhood provides a nice snapshot of where the band was in 1981,”concluded Deppe. “It shows how naïve we were at that time and shows the link between progressive music, which Sandy and I were into and our entry into the new wave movement which was just breaking.”

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