Britt Daniels used to get teased by cowboys in high school for wearing nail polish like his favorite bands did. With a propensity for makeup-clad musicians making great music, Britt is an artist who has emulated his influences, proving that pursuing interests, however unpopular, often makes the way for great things. The frontman sits down with No Name to spin some of his favorite tracks from that formative time, which, lucky for us, happens to include The Cure, The Ramones, Prince, and more.
No Name: I have to admit, the first band you asked for, Culture Club…I was a little surprised.
Britt Daniels: I love this song “Do You Really Want to Hurt Me?” That was probably their first single. It just has a great vibe…it has this incredible intro that has nothing to do with the rest of the song. The video for this song kind of flipped me out when I was a kid. I didn’t know what I was looking at. At the time, it was something brand new for me. Same thing with that first Eurythmics single came out.
NN: Next, you picked a great song from David Bowie, “Sound and Vision.”
BD: Last time I was here in San Francisco, it was New Year’s Eve. Sleater-Kinney was playing at The Masonic and they asked me to DJ. I did two sets, and one was all Prince, one was all David Bowie. It was pretty moving. People were actually listening, I think. People would applaud when another song came on…it was sort of unusual for a DJ set. I think it was really a testament to how people were feeling about those artists…it was the year that both of them passed away.
NN: Do any bands listen to their own band?
BD: I think there probably are some. When we finally finish (a) record, I listen to it a ton. During that period, I’m like this is so good.
NN: I like how you guys record. It’s all people talking in the background, the song doesn’t end when it’s supposed to. The thing I like about Spoon is that you guys have that live element. For me as a music fan, it reconnects me to the idea there are people making this record…
BD: It puts you more in the process that (the band is) in. I felt the same way when I would listen to The White Album and there are little bits or some conversation in the studio. That always made me more aware, just present.
NN: Next song is another legend: Stevie Wonder.
BD: Stevie Wonder is the greatest. This song, “I Wish,” is one that my dad would put on when I was growing up and I have such great memories of it. We listen to this one a lot right before we go on stage.
NN: You picked a great song by The Ramones, “Do You Remember Rock ‘n’ Roll Radio”.
BD: I think this is the record that Phil Spector produced. I just thought that was such a great pairing because their songs boil down to these timeless, 60s pop songs. I saw them twice in high school.
NN: Me and my wife are obsessed with the (Hot Thoughts) album art.
BD: It was something that I saw on a friend’s Instagram page. I didn’t even know she was an artist. I saw that and was like “that looks like a record cover.” It’s @christine_marlene.
Listen for more stories and songs from Britt Daniels above.