The Spin Doctors seemed to come out of nowhere in 1992, with two songs, “Little Miss Can’t Be Wrong” and “Two Princes,” seemingly in constant rotation on all the major radio stations. Their debut studio release, Pocket Full Of Kryptonite, actually came out ’91, but took a little time catch on, spurred by the extensive touring the band did. The album went on to sell over five million copies in the U.S. and another five million overseas.
After going through numerous personnel changes and breakups, they recently came back together with the original members from the Pocket sessions, including Chris Barron (vocals), Eric Schenkman (guitar), Aaron Comess (drums) and Mark White (bass), to embark on a tour in honor of the 20th anniversary of the now classic album, which for the first time they will perform in its entirety.
I caught up with Aaron to get his thoughts on the album, the tour and where the band stands now.
How does it feel to be embarking on your first full-scale tour with the band since the ’90s?
We actually have done a few tours in the last decade. We did one around 2003, and then did a record called Nice Talking To Me in 2005, and tours in Europe on that one. We also just got back from doing this anniversary tour in the U.K. a few months back and had a blast. But this feels extra special because we’re playing a lot of the same towns we started out in 20 years ago, and to all be around 20 years later, happy and healthy and playing great is something that we all really appreciate.
When you listen back to Pocket, do you hear things you would do differently? Does it bring you back to the band’s early days?
I actually like the record more now than I did when we made it. I always thought we had made a great record, but being younger I was more critical of us and heard little mistakes and things that bothered me. But now when I hear it, those things are my favorite parts. I like to call those “beautiful mistakes,” which to me is usually where the best stuff comes from.
You’ll be playing the whole album, front to back. Are there songs that you have rarely played that you’re rediscovering?
There are some songs we have not played in a while, like “Forty Or Fifty” and “Hard To Exist.” These are some of our best songs and it’s really great to dig into this record and get to play some of these again.
Will you be playing the songs faithfully to the album, or will you allow them to take off in different directions depending on the night, as your reputation as a “jam band” befits?
Some of the songs lend themselves to a certain arrangement, and others have a lot of room to improvise on. We always like to take chances and not stick to the same thing night after night, but at the same time respecting the song, which always comes first.
How do you feel the band members have grown since you recorded the album, both musically and as people?
I can honestly say that we have all grown on our instruments. Everyone in this group is what I like to call a “lifer” when it comes to music. Everyone has always stayed active outside the band, which I think brings a great appreciation to the band when we play together now. Being a good musician is a life long journey that never ends. If you want to be really good at something, it takes hard work and practice and having an open mind, and you can never stop trying to learn more or you won’t grow. A far as people, we are all basically the same num-nuts we have always been! The only difference is that we don’t let each other drive ourselves crazy anymore.
Who are your musical influences, and are there any new bands that have especially caught your attention?
I love all kinds of music. I always try to listen to lots of things. I’m a big fan of classic rock like The Stones, The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, The Who, The Band, all that stuff. I also love old soul, funk and R&B, like James Brown, Otis Redding, Aretha Franklin, etc, etc. I love jazz as well, like Miles Davis and John Coltrane, and I’m a huge Duke Ellington fan. And, of course, Louis Armstrong. I could go on and on.
As far as new music, I think there are ton of great things going on these days. It’s a really good time, and it reminds me a lot of when we were first starting out when the mainstream was really bland and everything sounded the same but underground there was all this great music being played in clubs. Then all of a sudden bands like us and Nirvana were all over the radio. I think we are going to see a big change soon in the mainstream. The good news is there is tons of young talent out there doing their thing.
Do you have any plans for new recordings?
We have a whole albums worth of original blues songs that we used to play in the clubs in New York City way back before we made our first record. We have been kicking the idea around of recording those.
Do you have any favorite places to play that you’re looking forward to, or certain songs that are favorites to play?
I really love playing anywhere and am grateful to get to do this for a living. I’m lucky to have something I love to do and get to do it. As far as songs I’m looking forward to playing: I truly enjoy playing all the songs on Pocket Full Of Kryptonite. It’s a very diverse, musical record that has held up very well over time, and is as much fun or more fun to play now as it was then!
Spin Doctors will play Bowery Ballroom in NYC on Oct. 13 and World Café Live in Philly on Oct. 14. For more information, go to spindoctors.com.