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Built to last

Doug Martsch loosens the reins on You in Reverse


When not tinkering in Santas workshop, Doug Martsch - digs makin music.
  • When not tinkering in Santas workshop, Doug Martsch digs makin music.

Built to Spill has always been seen as the brainchild of Doug Martsch even, by some, as a solo project masquerading as a band. And there have been albums, such as 1997's Perfect From Now On, that Martsch wrote almost entirely.

Yet the image of Built to Spill as a solo project under a band name has never been all that accurate. That's especially true in regards to the new CD, You In Reverse, the most collaborative record from the band yet.

Much of the disc was drawn from jam sessions during which vocalist/guitarist Martsch, guitarist Jim Roth, bassist Brett Nelson and drummer Scott Plouf came up with parts that, over time, they developed into finished songs.

"Most everything on the record is stuff that came from the jams or [songs] we just came up with in the studio. I didn't work on [the songs] at home all the time, like I have on every previous record," Martsch says.

In fact, You In Reverse even grew beyond the four-man lineup that started the CD. Guitarist Brett Netson (an original member of the band, who now has rejoined as a full-time member) and multi-instrumentalist Steven Wray Lobdell also play extensively on the CD.

Despite greater input, Built to Spill still sounds very much like the band fans have come to know over the past dozen years.

Martsch began developing the Built to Spill sound in 1993, with much indie success. But with the release of 2001's Ancient Melodies of the Future, Built to Spill began to show signs of creative fatigue.

"I was just kind of burned out on alternative rock, myself and Built to Spill," Martsch says. "I became interested in singers and players, and not songwriters. Songwriting was just not interesting to me. So when it came time to get Built to Spill going, I just didn't really have it in me. I wasn't a good enough singer or guitar player to make the music I wanted to make."

After touring behind Ancient Melodies, Built to Spill went on hiatus, and Martsch released a solo album, Now You Know, in 2002. With its largely acoustic folk-blues sound and considerable use of slide guitar, it clearly reflected his fascination with artists who have strong personal styles of playing or singing.

The solo CD, and the break from the band, got Martsch excited again about Built to Spill. In 2003, they reconvened for a tour.

"When the band got back together, it was fresh and new again, and I kind of came to some sort of middle ground between how I used to think about music and how I had changed my thoughts," Martsch says. "I came back to a median where I think that I was ready to do [Built to Spill] again."

With the new five-man lineup in place, Built to Spill is looking to make its music come to life in concert. The group has toured as a five-piece with Netson on occasion before, and Martsch is pleased this is now a full-time situation.

"After we did some tours with Netson and went back to a four-piece again, it seemed like it was missing some of that specialness."

Built to Spill with Brett Netson

The Black Sheep, 2106 E. Platte Ave.

Sunday, July 9, 9 p.m.

Tickets: $13-$15, all ages; available at

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