The Spinto Band was born out of Sin City. Literally. Of the six Spintos, ages 18 to 23, only singer/guitarist Nick Krill doesn’t have a father, stepfather or uncle who is or was part of Delaware honky-tonk institution the Sin City Band. The Spintos began in junior high with weekend sleepovers in a basement full of the Sin City Band’s discarded four-tracks and other outdated (but not yet “vintage”) gear.
“I think we’re the reverse of a lot of other young bands,” says Krill. “Every other band we knew back then would play in their garage and do the live thing. They’d do a bunch of concerts, then go, ‘Oh man, we’ve gotta record now?’ But we just had this crap in the basement and all we’d do was record, so we had 20 90-minute tapes full of junk before we played our first show. When we had to play live, we were like, ‘What the heck? What do we do?’”
“We had to learn our songs again,” laughs singer/ bassist/guitarist Thomas Hughes.
While their high-school contemporaries played in predictable punk or jam bands, the Spintos—Krill, Hughes and his brother Sam (keyboards) and their stepbrother Albert Birney (a guitarist who’s since left the band), brothers Jeff and Joe Hobson (drums and guitar/bass, respectively) and Jon Eaton (guitar)—were in the basement listening to Pavement, the Flaming Lips and Ween. They have assembled seven albums’ worth of home recordings dating back to 1997’s The Analog Chronicles, which was self-released under the name Free Beer.
This experience pays off on the imaginative Nice And Nicely Done, the Spintos’ impressive Bar/None debut. Recorded while they were on break from their various East Coast schools, the album’s zippy, hook-filled power pop bursts with new-wave keyboards, Strokes-like guitar riffs, ecstatic vocal harmonies and kid-in-a-candy-store touches of electric mandolins, handclaps and, on “Brown Boxes,” kazoos. (When the Spintos perform the song live, they sport wire kazoo holders.) Think Fountains Of Wayne with less irony, Hot Hot Heat with better songs or, for historical perspective, the Motors’ “Airport” (a 1978 power-pop gem the Spintos occasionally cover).
The Spinto Band (the name comes from Krill’s grandfather, Roy Spinto, who wrote some of the songs the group recorded before it started penning its own) now treats the studio as a toolbox of possibilities rather than a playpen of indulgence, taking care not to let the layers of guitars overwhelm the songcraft.
“I remember one time when we were in this really cheesy battle of the bands,” says Krill. “One of our friends overheard the judges say, ‘They had four guitars up there, but it only sounded like it was one or two. That’s stupid. They lose.’ We got an Easter basket as our prize. But I think that’s a good description: It’s a lot of guitars, but it doesn’t sound that way.”