Built to Spill's Doug Martsch Opens Up About Making a Political Difference (or Not) and His Affection for Dwyane Wade
Martsch was in bands before BTS, like Treepeople and the Halo Benders, with Calvin Johnson of Beat Happening. But with Built to Spill's third album, Martsch found a lineup that suited his style. They've toured the world. He seems a sincere human being, still living in his hometown of Boise, Idaho, with his family. He's a big b-ball fan and even hosts his own weekly Wednesday-night radio show on Radio Boise.
We know all of this because of the internet but also due to a recent conversation with the musician in which we learned of his love for Dwyane Wade and desire to open hipster minds with the Dead's "Ripple."
New Times: I wanted to start by talking to you about basketball. We're down here in South Florida, so how do you feel about the Heat?
Doug Martsch: I kind of go back and forth with the Heat. I'm a huge Dwyane Wade fan and years ago, I watched every Heat game. I also really like their announcers. I think they have the best commentators in all of basketball.
Then LeBron, I liked him when he first came on the scene; then he really annoyed me. And then I kind of started liking him again 'cause everyone hated him. Then it came down to playoff time and I didn't really care that much. My team was gone. But I watched the Heat play a couple of times, and I just think that those two are the most exciting people in basketball to watch. So I was pretty much rooting for the Heat, and I was happy they won.
I have a friend who will fly down from Brooklyn to see you play "Virginia Reel Around the Fountain" if you perform it at the Culture Room. Will you?
Well, that is one of our regular songs. Not every show. It's pretty standard for us. There's definitely a chance we'll play it. I'll try to make a note. Culture Room? [looks for pen] I'll make a note, and we'll play that at that show.
Awesome! How has the idea of indie rock changed? When we were younger, it was like, you ran around looking for cool indie music, cassettes, records, and now it's like indie rock is such a broad term, captures so many things, and everything is available on the internet. What do you feel about that?
A big part of punk rock and indie rock was that it was rare, and when you stumbled across something. You'd go to the record store, and you'd see a weird album cover or a wicked band name and it was just kind of exciting. The rarity made the stuff kind of more valuable. When you have access to everything, it becomes a little less special.
That being said, that's just my own orientation. I don't think it's any more special than people who have access to all of that stuff, who have a wish and can totally fulfill it. I appreciate how I grew up with indie rock. But I don't believe in that stuff, like it was so special then, and now it's not. Everyone has their own way of experiencing things and I don't think that my experience is anymore valuable than anyone else's.
Do you still talk about and sing about politics when you're onstage?
I used to think about that stuff all the time, but I don't so much anymore. I'm a little resigned. I found that I need to concentrate on my own rise, on things that I can control. And my wife too. It just became too depressing for us. Brett Netson (guitarist), he's still fired up. I still have the same belief system, I guess I'm just not as... I don't have the same belief that I can do anything or that any of us can do anything. I think it's just going to keep going till it all falls apart. That's not to say that people shouldn't do anything; I just right now don't have any energy in my life for that shit.