Spoons

Spoons were a Canadian synthpop band that released three albums on Ready Records between 1981 and 1983, followed by two further albums on Anthem during the late 1980s.

Members: Gordon Deppe (vocals, guitar), Sandy Horne (vocals, bass), Brett Wickens (keyboards, synthesizer, 1979-80), Peter Shepherd (drums, 1979), Derrick Ross (drums, 1980-86), Rob Preuss (keyboards, synthesizer, 1981-86), Steve Kendry (drums, 1986-90), Scott MacDonald (keyboards, 1986-90)


Background

Spoons formed in 1979 in Burlington, Ontario, by three Aldershot High School students: singer–guitarist Gordon Deppe, bassist Sandy Horne (Gordon’s then-girlfriend), and keyboardist Brett Wickens. They chose their name at Wickens’ home while eating alphabet soup. Drummer Peter Shepherd completed the initial lineup, which first plied symphonic rock but adopted quickly to the New Romantic synth-pop style. Shepherd soon cleared for drummer Derek Ross.

Wickens and band-manager Paul Abrahams initiated Mannequin Records, which issued the 1980 debut Spoons single: “My Job” backed with “After the Institution.” Mannequin pressed 1,000 copies, which spurred Spoons’ cult following on the Toronto live circuit. They signed with Ready Records, a nascent local indie with a diverse new wave rosters (Battered Wives, Blue Peter, Demics, Steve Blimkie & The Reason).

As Spoons readied their debut album, Wickens departed for Ceramic Hello, a minimal wave duo that made the 1981 Mannequin album The Absence of a Canary. He subsequently designed album for assorted acts (China Crisis, Zaine Griff) under the pseudonym Brel Wik. Spoons hired keyboardist Rob Preuss, a fifteen-year-old fan of the group.


Stick Figure Neighbourhood

Spoons released their debut album, Stick Figure Neighbourhood, in 1981 on Ready Records.

A1. “Conventional Beliefs” (3:57)
A2. “Stick Figure Neighbourhood” (3:59) Written-By – Sandy Horne
A3. “Red Light” (4:42)
A4. “For Tran” (3:42) Mellotron – Hugh Syme
A5. “Capitol Hill” (4:38)
B1. “Ice Age” (4:07) Written-By – Sandy Horne
B2. “Dropped Dishes” (3:56)
B3. “Friends In the Media” (3:31)
B4. “Only For Athletes” (5:28) Mellotron – Hugh Syme
B5. “Annita” (4:16)

Recorded At – Grant Avenue Studio

Bass, Bass [Pedals] – Sandy Horne
Design – Open Concept
Drums, Percussion – Derrick Ross (2)
Guitar, Written-By, Design Concept – Gordon Deppe
Lacquer Cut By – George Graves
Producer – Graeme Pole
Recorded By – Daniel Lanois
Synthesizer, Piano – Rob Preuss
Vocals – Gordon Deppe, Sandy Horne

garnered alot of attention from AM and college radio stations, despite not having an actual single. The title track, the lead-off “Conventional Beliefs,” “Capitol Hill,” and “Friends In The Media” all had the danceable new wave sound down to a ‘t’ and helped land them the opening slot on some of the hottest concert tickets across Canada, including The Police, Simple Minds, and Orchestral Manoevres in the Dark. The album is also notable for being one of the earliest new wave albums engineered by Daniel Lanois. The album was popular on the Canadian University charts, and allowed the group to eventually tour Ontario and Quebec with bands like Martha and the Muffins.[3] Carl Finkle, who left Martha and the Muffins in 1981, would go on to manage the Spoons during their “Nova Heart” fame.

They landed a distribution deal with A&M, and flew to London to work with producer John Punter


Arias & Symphonies

Spoons released their second album, Arias & Symphonies, in 1982 on Ready Records.

A1. “Trade Winds” (2:15)
A2. “Smiling In Winter” (4:06)
A3. “One In Ten Words” (4:10)
A4. “No Electrons” (5:12)
A5. “No More Growing Up” (3:26)
A6. “Arias & Symphonies” (4:48)
B1. “Nova Heart” (5:47)
B2. “South American Vacation” (4:12)
B3. “A Girl In Two Pieces” (4:28)
B4. “Walk the Plank” (4:27)
B5. “Blow Away” (5:58)

Recorded At – Sounds Interchange
Recorded At – Air Studios

Bass Guitar, Vocals – Sandy Horne
Design – M.P. Krawczynski
Design Concept [Concept] – Gordon Deppe, M.P. Krawczynski, P. L. Noble*
Drums, Percussion – Derrick Ross (2)
Engineer – Mike Jones (3)
Engineer [Assistant] – Carey Gurden, Robert DiGioia*
Guitar, Vocals – Gordon Deppe
Hair, Make-Up – Joe Day, Reg Quindinho
Lacquer Cut By – PN.*
Lyrics By – Gordon Deppe
Photography By – P. L. Noble*
Producer, Mixed By – John Punter
Stylist [Wardrobe] – Judy Cornish
Synthesizer [Jupiter IV, SH-2000] – Rob Preuss
Written-By – G. Deppe*, R. Preuss* (tracks: A3, A5, B2), S. Horne* (tracks: A2, A5, B2, B3)

recording at Toronto’s Sounds Interchange Studio. They released ARIAS AND SYMPHONIES in the fall of ’82, which contained their break-out single and first video, “Nova Heart,” and the b-side “Symmetry,” which wasn’t on the lp. “Nova Heart” cracked the Canadian top 40, and was followed by the title track reaching #18, and then “Smiling in Winter,” which peaked at #30. Three gold singles helped get the band onto the opening slots on tours with Culture Club, Simple Minds, and The Police. Although they could have extended the nearly year on the road, they chose instead to limit the live appearances, and signed an advertising campaign with Thrifty’s clothing store chain instead. Production legend Nile Rodgers (David Bowie, Madonna, Cyndi Lauper, Diana Ross, Duran Duran, and a million others) saw the band playing in New York in the spring of ’83, and after meeting them, agreed to work with them on their next album.


Talkback

Spoons released their third album, Talkback, in 1983 on Ready Records.

A1. “Talk Back” (4:36)
A2. “Camera Shy” (4:06)
A3. “My Favourite Page” (3:58)
A4. “Don’t Shoot the Messenger” (3:16)
A5. “Time Stands Still” (5:01)
B1. “Old Emotions” (3:40)
B2. “Stop” (3:08)
B3. “Out of My Hands” (3:46)
B4. “Quiet World” (4:35)
B5. “The Rhythm” (4:20)

Recorded At – Sounds Interchange

Bass – Sandy Horne
Design – Dale Heslip
Design Concept – Dale Heslip, P.L. Noble*, Spoons
Drums – Derrick Ross (2)
Engineer – Jason Corsaro
Guitar, Lyrics By – Gordon Deppe
Keyboards, Piano – Rob Preuss
Mastered By – Bob Ludwig
Photography By – P.L. Noble*
Producer – Nile Rodgers
Vocals – Gordon Deppe, Sandy Horne

On the shelves later that year, TALK BACK produced a pair of single that charted, with “Old Emotions” and “The Rhythm” both making the top 30 at home. The title track was released in early ’84, but to the record label’s disappointment, there was still no breakthrough on the American or international charts.

They recorded the soundtrack to the movie, “Listen To The City,” which partially used established Spoons material, as well as some new songs written specifically for the movie. Horne also landed a supporting role in the film. Ready Records meanwhile released the singles, “Tell No Lies,” b/w “White Lies.” Within a few months those two songs were released as an EP along with “Romantic Traffic,” which became the band’s second video. The song also featured a memorable music video that featured the band in a travel adventure gone awry. The caper featured cameos from Toronto radio personality Live Earl Jive and musician Nash the Slash.[9] That song was then released again as a 45 with “Theme For A City,” from the “Listen To The City” soundtrack. These tracks showed an evolution in the band’s song, complimented by the addition of a horn section that featured Phil Poppa and Tony Carlucci on saxophone and trumpet respectively.

But the label was in financial trouble, and closed its doors before the end of the year, leaving the band in hiatus. Ross left to become an accountant, which eventually led to the co-president position of Flood Ross Enterprises. Preuss meanwhile went on to work with several acts, including TBA, Perfect World, and Honeymoon Suite, and eventually got into the musical theatre field, taking a job in Toronto, then in New York as a musical director for the Wintergarden Theater.

“Romantic Traffic” was a downtempo song with adult-oriented radio-friendly leanings that would become the group’s most enduring hit. Around this time, the band recorded commercials for Maxell,[10] Pepsi-Cola, and signed a six-figure promotional deal with Thrifty’s Clothing Stores, a cross-Canada chain, and were featured in the store’s radio, TV, and print ads.[11]

Late in 1985, Spoons left their label, new wave imprint Ready Records, which had been unable to secure international releases for their material; Ready Records went out of business soon after.[7] The band signed to the more rock-oriented Anthem Records label and welcomed Bob Muir, former Virgin Records Canada president, as manager.


Discography:

  • Stick Figure Neighbourhood (1981)
  • Arias & Symphonies (1982)
  • Talkback (1983)
  • Bridges Over Borders (1986)
  • Vertigo Tango (1988)

Sources:

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