Why Spoon Benders’ Katy Black Wants to Stay Uncomfortable

“If you stay in the same place for too long, you become part of the drywall, and it’s really hard to get out of that.”

After dropping singles like sexy chugger “Dichotomatic” and frenzied riffer “Rm 157″ along the way, Spoon Benders is ready to unleash their sophomore album, How Things Repeat—and to leave Portland.

Before discussing the album, Katy Black, the garage psych-rock band’s lead vocalist, confirms what I’ve heard: Spoon Benders, along with their much-loved photographer Harper King, is leaving Portland for Los Angeles. Black shares that they’ve been planning the move for the better part of a year.

“Portland is the most amazing, comfortable and coddling music scene—which should never change,” Black says. “There’s a huge purpose for it being that way; it’s why the music scene here is so amazing and pure and wonderful.”

That said, the band wants to embark on a new challenge. “If you stay in the same place for too long, you become part of the drywall, and it’s really hard to get out of that,” Black says, explaining the importance of being a little uncomfortable in order to create art.

That very idea is part of How Things Repeat. While Black wants listeners to reach their own conclusions and curiosities about the meaning of individual songs, the overall theme of the album is cohesive—and largely related to the concept we’ve just talked about.

“When things start to feel like each day is blending into the next, something’s wrong,” Black says. “And I think a lot of people look for that as comfortability. Like, it’s reliable and it’s dependable; it offers comfort and homeyness and stuff like that. But I see that as a waste, a little bit.”

How Things Repeat is about getting stuck in these hamster wheels of boredom and repetition—like doing the marriage-house-kids bit out of a sense of obligation, then filling in the remaining void with empty pleasures, rather than fulfillment.

Black references the repetitive motions we find ourselves in again and again, whether it’s the aforementioned analogy of being “part of the drywall” or hardly having money for rent. The album also makes reference to the other side of the repeat coin: giving too much to your art. “There are just these confines of repetition that are constantly around us,” Black says.

As for the writing process on Repeat, Black shares that it’s been a lot more collaborative this time around. The band, she says, is moving into the “let’s just see what happens and jam for a while mode—which feels great. And we’re just better musicians [now].”

Black concludes by reiterating her love for Portland, insisting that after Spoon Benders moves this summer they’ll be playing shows here just as often as they have been (the band has been touring widely, playing festivals like Oakland’s Mosswood Meltdown and Boise’s Treefort, with bigger tours to be announced soon).

“It’s like a bad word to say L.A.,” Black laughs, adding, “It seems really counterintuitive to leave such a wonderful place that cultivates so much art. Portland is such a great place to be an artist. But I need to be uncomfortable.”

SEE IT: Spoon Benders performs at their album release party with Forty Feet Tall at Doug Fir Lounge, 830 E Burnside St., 503-231-9663, dougfirlounge.com. 9 pm Friday, May 12. $15. 21+.

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