NAME: Spencer Krug (Swan Lake, Sunset Rubdown, Wolf Parade)
PROGRESS REPORT: Releasing Enemy Mine with Swan Lake on March 24; editing untitled Sunset Rubdown LP for release this summer; recording a marimba-based EP for release in summer/fall; writing songs with Wolf Parade.

A full Spencer Krug Progress Report should be 1500 words; he’s got three active bands to juggle and a lot to say about each one. But what’s really interesting about Krug is the way he approaches making albums. He missed my interview call three times because he was sleeping in after working on music until 6 a.m. He describes writing songs with Carey Mercer and Dan Bejar in Swan Lake, or with Dan Boekner in Wolf Parade, as fun with old friends. He’s “only” going on three or four tours this year. But Krug describes his own songs on Swan Lake’s upcoming second release, Enemy Mine, as “rushed.” And when he looks back on Sunset Rubdown’s last release, 2007′s excellent Random Spirit Lover, he’s also self-critical. “I think it was a good idea. I don’t know if it was executed properly,” he says, before listing off all the problems with the record’s sound, songwriting, and lyrics. “I don’t want you to think I hate what I do. I love making music. I don’t always love the end result, but I love the process.” This could be the secret to putting out as many records as Krug does: just enjoy making them, don’t give a shit about having made them.

Right now Krug is most proud of his collaborators’ work on Enemy Mine. The album was recorded in Mercer’s basement in Victoria, British Columbia over three weeks last April, with final recording completed at JCDC Studios. John Congleton, who recently produced The Thermals’ Now We Can See, mixed Enemy Mine with the band via email. Even though Swan Lake didn’t get a lot of time together, Krug insists that the record is a full collaboration, and not just a compilation of each member’s songs. “Whoever’s singing wrote the skeleton of the song, the bare-bones structure. But to call the other two the backing band doesn’t give them enough credit, or give me enough credit,” he explains. “There’s a lot of collaborative writing going on and a lot of people coming up with their own ideas and throwing them against the wall.” This time around the band concentrated on recording things live with less textures, instead of building tracks upon tracks. He says he’s “not in love” with his own songs, but really liked Mercer’s contributions. “Carey’s diving into this new world that I haven’t heard him go into before. It really suits his voice and his writing style and it’s apparent on at least two of his songs,” he says. Krug hasn’t heard the finished record yet, but he promises to buy it when it comes out.

That same desire for a “live,” less packed sound also spilled over to the next Sunset Rubdown album. The band completed initial recording in October at Graham Gibson’s studio in Chicago. Krug doesn’t have a title yet (he wants to avoid another Kissing The Beehive / At Mount Zoomer gaffe). Two songs that Krug says are “overdue” for recording, “Idiot Heart” and “Silver Moons,” will both be on the new album, as well as many of the other tracks the band debuted on their last tour. Right now he’s editing songs and doing some re-recording at his home, and says the record will be done by the end of this month (just in time for his vacation in Mexico). Perhaps to avoid the “second guessing” he thinks had a negative effect on Random Spirit Lover, Krug and the rest of Sunset Rubdown recorded all the instruments live “on the floor.” “I like these kinds of recordings because they’re very honest and it’s hard to pretend that you sound any different from whatever it is,” he says. He’s also recorded two songs (“Insane Love Awakening” and “Coming To At Dawn”) for a friend’s 7″ series, to be released whenever his friend wants to. He expects the Sunset Rubdown record out in early summer. After that album, he’s planning another, more idiosyncratic record that he’s been working on for two years: an EP of marimba and drum songs. “[It's] an instrument that I’ve always liked, but I’ve never had the patience to bring on the road or even try recording,” he says. “I don’t think it’s the coolest move for my ’street cred,’ but it’s a beautiful sounding instrument, what can I say?”

It’s disappointing but understandable that Wolf Parade won’t be touring in 2009. But they will be hanging out. “We’re going to be writing together and practicing, because we’re friends,” Krug says. “Dan and I have talked about just getting together like we used to when the band started, just me and him just sitting around in one of our houses, sheepishly bouncing ideas off each other.” Sounds fun.


If there’s a band you want Progress Report to drag out of the studio, or bed, for an update, shout out in the comments or e-mail tips@stereogum.com.

Comments (39)
  1. Fred  |   Posted on Jan 23rd, 2009 0

    How about seeing what’s shaking with the DC band Antelope? Haven’t heard from them in a a while.

  2. love this feature & this choice for it.

  3. Progress report on the Rentals new album “Songs About Time”

  4. What a legend. Too bad he doesn’t realize he’s a genius. And RSL is pretty much perfect, 2 years later. And damn, i’m pumped for that miramba shit.

  5. He’ll admit that other albums he’s done are good or at least “better,” but he said there’s no point to that. He just makes stuff, and likes making stuff. It doesn’t affect him if you (or he) thinks it’s bad, and it doesn’t affect him if you (or he) thinks it’s good. Part of why I like talking to bands while they’re recording is to hear how they relate to their recent past work, or how they’re working now. Krug’s in his own universe.

  6. Omar  |   Posted on Jan 23rd, 2009 0

    Please do a progress report on Gang Gang Dance.There supposed to be recording a new album this month.keep up the good…nay great work.

  7. Marc  |   Posted on Jan 23rd, 2009 0

    Man… this was the best and most interesting PR until now. Spencer’s just adorable, admirable and such an inspiration for me. What a great guy.

  8. Nate  |   Posted on Jan 23rd, 2009 0

    Sunset played a bunch of new songs at Music Hall this fall and they sounded amazing. Very excited for that record; I just pray Spence likes it.

  9. Is Spencer Krug trying to lay claim to M. Ward’s title of “Busiest Man in Indie Rock”?

    • Pearl  |   Posted on Jan 23rd, 2009 0

      Besides, we all know that title belongs to Owen Pallett.

      Also, could you just drag Spencer into my bed? Thx

  10. Get real – Ward isn’t near as busy as Krug. At least Spencer has the decency to not abbreviate his first name.

  11. EMC  |   Posted on Jan 23rd, 2009 0

    Super Furry Animals????

  12. MH  |   Posted on Jan 23rd, 2009 0

    I’m glad to see him mention some displeasure with the way RSL was done. I love his work, but RSL had a few songs that were just way too over-produced, layered, and generally boisterous (Leopard, for example). It really broke the pacing and coherence of the album. Knowing the next SR album will be recorded live has me really, really excited for it again.

  13. O but this poor Canadian doesn’t even KNOW he’s a genius! The poor tortured Bruce Springsteen-a-like. With the wailing. Maybe do one of these things with that band with the horse on stage. Ugh krugh.

  14. The first time I saw a picture of Spencer I thought, “there’s no way in hell that voice comes out of that guy”….

    Can’t wait for the next Sunset Rubdown.

  15. Nylund  |   Posted on Jan 24th, 2009 0

    Dan Bejar, Dan Boeckner, Carl Newman, Neko Case, Leslie Feist…Can anyone name a member of a Canadian band with only one musical outlet? It seems like everyone has a band, a solo project, a side project, and a super group! What is it? Are they just trying to keep from going crazy through those long and hellish winters?

    • No, but I can name two members of another “Canadian” group who have only one musical outlet. And “The Campfire Headphase” was four goddamn years ago! Hurry it up, guys.

  16. weak  |   Posted on Jan 24th, 2009 0

    loved this thanks jessica!

  17. arctic monkeys progress report?

  18. Jamie  |   Posted on Jan 24th, 2009 0

    GET some modest mouse udpates….for seriousness!!

  19. i tried to like swan lake, and i tried to like dan bejar, and i tried to like spencer krug.
    but all three are best taken in moderation, for me at least.

  20. ian g  |   Posted on Jan 25th, 2009 0

    how about checking in with built to spill. we need to hear from em

  21. too bad about no 2009 tour for WP

  22. dee  |   Posted on Jan 25th, 2009 0

    sexiest progress report ever? yes.

  23. Michael  |   Posted on Jan 25th, 2009 0

    the only problem with RSL was that it came out at the same time as In Rainbows.

  24. Islands?

    Cos this isn’t quite enough for me.. http://twitter.com/nickfromislands

  25. MB  |   Posted on Jan 27th, 2009 0

    Dear God, come back quickly, Spencer.

  26. Caleb  |   Posted on Jan 28th, 2009 0

    I second that Super Furry Animals suggestion…

  27. what exactly were the problems with “Kissing the Beehive” and “At Mount Zoomer”? who even cares about an album title?

    • They announced “Kissing The Beehive” as the album title, then found out there was a book with the same name, which potentially meant all sorts of legal problems.

  28. irony  |   Posted on Jan 28th, 2009 0

    you all are funny. you say he is “too modest” and “too bad he doesn’t realize he is a genius”…but do you REALLY want that? then it gets to the point of ryan adams (gasp! did she really compare RA and SK?! the answer is NO.) and you will all complain he let the fame get to his head and effect his music. let the man be. he’s done incredibly thus far and there’s prob lots more great work to come. thanks for the report stereogum

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