Portland emo-indie band Kind of Like Spitting, led by Ben Barnett, split in 2006 but now they’re back and playing the Moon Room on March 25. We called up Barnett and had a chat.P
Yellow Scene: The project is 20 years old now – how do you think it’s evolved in those two decades?
Ben Barnett: It evolved emotionally, in that the shows used to be big hardcore kids who would see the shows and be crying during and after. The old shows would be these really heavy experiences. That’s the way I write. Now that two of us are pushing 40, we’re not really there to bum people out. The perspective has really changed. It’s a lot more fun than it used to be, and we’re better too. As a band, we traditionally had really bad luck, whether it’s an amp exploding or a member exploding. Something always exploded. Now, I feel that we’re really even. The shows have been great. The short answer is that we grew up, and we’re happier people. We still play a lot of the older material and it’s really cathartic. Ultimately, there are better attitudes in the band, at practice, at the label, with the people who want to interview us – we went around with a chip on our shoulders in the beginning.
YS: Back in the day, you put out 12 albums in seven years which is amazing. What caused the band to break up in 2006?
BB: My fiancé left me and it hurt too much to sing the songs every night. A lot of the material was about being broken-hearted. I challenge anyone to sing an hour of Spitting material and not be upset by it at the end. Especially the old stuff. I was exhausting myself. I’m bi-polar, so I was exhausting myself touring constantly. Whether I was in a car by myself or with four or five people, I didn’t know. Our bassist now, we’ve been playing together for 16 years. The aforementioned attitude problems were just exhausting and I had a lot of growing up to do. In 2006, almost 10 years ago, I had a look at my life, and I wasn’t at an intellectual or emotional level that I wanted to be at. I feel like a lot of my motional development has been retarded by abuse as a kid. I feel a little bit behind the beat when I learn normal stuff. So yeah, ultimately it was just exhausting.
YS: What had you been doing in the break, and what made you want to put the band back together?
BB: During the break, I was the music director for the School of Rock in Seattle. I started the school, and I discovered bands like the Globes and Special Explosion, and I got them on their labels. They were all my students and I co-wrote their first EP. All of my talents and failures as a musician became an amazing skill-set for the School of Rock. T was like, “Here’s what not to do, guys.” We started with eight students and, by the time I left four years later, we were at 120+ students. After that, I had some other projects – I was in a musical. I had a funk-pop recording project called Error of Light with all of these heavy North-West characters. When that finished, my partner said that I should do Kind of Like Spitting because a lot of people like it and we made a dent. I didn’t understand that – I ignored it, I never Googled it or looked it up. I didn’t want to be that guy. But then I went to SXSW a couple of years ago and did the Top Shelf showcase, and spoke to the bassist about doing Spitting again. So we got together, played very little and hung out all the time. That friendship is what brought the band back. We found Dante, the drummer. He has an amazing attitude and he’s a sweetheart. We found a way to be happy, so the next logical step was to be active again.
YS: What can we expect from the Denver set?
BB: Actually, the Denver set is I think the second show of the tour. Lee from Lee Corey Oswald is playing bass until our regular bassist Brian meets us in Chicago, but it’s literally just as good. We thought I was going to play mostly an acoustic set and then four or five band songs. He showed up and knew 11 band songs. So we’ll do pretty much an entire band set plus solo stuff when it feels right. We haven’t built the set – we’re not very professional yet. We’re just playing the songs the best we can, and we don’t have the same exact set we play every night. We’re not a major label band – we don’t work that way. We have other jobs and other things going on. We play a lot of old material, new material. Honestly, I think this is the best the band’s ever been, for a number of reasons.
YS: After this tour, what’s next?
BB: We are currently looking around for labels to do the next record. It’s not for a lack of labels wanting to do it. For the first time in our careers, we have choices. We’re going to start sending out the demos, and then do a full-length. Musically, I hope that we play at the edge of our ability. We’re not trying to blow up. We’re not going to get much bigger than we are, and we’re never going to get rich. It’s about a life in music – we’re just jazz guys. The band that we can afford to be with everybody living a few hours away from each other. Touring is pretty heavy on your body. I think we’re just gonna keep making records and touring. We have no plans to stop. This isn’t the reunion tour – we’ll be back if Denver will have us. I’m really interested to see how Denver goes. I really don’t know if we have a draw or a presence in Denver. I really hope people come out because it’ll be super-fun.
Kind of Like Spitting plays with Lee Corey Oswald at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, March 25 at the Moon Room @ Summit Music Hall; 1902 Bake St., Denver; 303-487-0111; $10-$12.