Casey Spooner on Making the New Fischerspooner Album: ‘It’s Really Hard to Write Sexy Songs’
If anyone knows a thing or two about sexy, provocative music, it’s Casey Spooner. As the frontman of Fischerspooner since 2001, he’s crafted some of the electroclash genre’s most orgiastic tracks. And with the release of the duo’s SIR earlier this month, he’s taken a seat back on that throne. We caught up with Casey Spooner via phone, as he’s recently moved overseas.
Spooner is currently in what he’s calling his “ex-pat phase.” Three months ago he hightailed it for Paris. “I came in December for two days, with a carry on. And I never left,” he says.
He’s been doing quite a bit of press lately from the City of Lights, as his latest record, SIR — also the first from Fischerspooner in nine years — has become something of a critical darling (referred to by Hornet as “the strongest, raunchiest, gayest album of the duo’s electroclash career).
But Casey Spooner hasn’t been sitting on his hands. In the nine years since his band’s 2009 Entertainment album, he toured that record for years, released a solo album (2010’s Adult Contemporary), cranked out two art books (New Truth and Egos) and sat down to start writing SIR in 2013.
The new Fischerspooner album has seen four music videos released thus far, the first — for “Have Fun Tonight” — leaked by Spooner last June. Two video edits of the track “Togetherness” also saw release, and the music video for “Butterscotch Goddamn” was released two weeks ago.
But the music video that had the gay blogosphere turned topsy-turvy in January, was for the track “Top Brazil.” The video features a veritable orgy of sexy men, writing with their bare asses in the air, and the interwebs were smitten. Well, the ones not spouting a bullshit double standard about how sexual male pop artists can get.
“I think of that video as a family portrait,” Spooner tells Hornet. “Everyone volunteered to be in the video, and most of them were people that I knew, or had some connection with. Or I had slept with. So it was a big, amazing, sexy queer family portrait.”
Spooner calls the video “Kylie-esque” in that its director, Tom C. Brown, went for a “mega-pop” vibe and the video contains visual reference to some of the Aussie pop star’s own music videos, like “Body Language” and “All the Lovers.”
“I think the interesting thing about it is we got a lot of pushback from people because it was men,” Spooner says. “I was shocked! People were saying, ‘We can’t air this on YouTube. It’s pornographic. This is obscene.’ I was saying, ‘Well, have you seen a Nicki Minaj video? Rihanna?’ I don’t understand what you’re talking about.”
For an artist with a seasoned track record of pumping sexuality into his music and the videos that accompany them, he doesn’t see what all the fuss was about.
“The video really reveals to me there’s an insane double standard about the way entertainment treats the female body versus the male body. And also intense homophobia,” he says. “To me, it’s so innocuous. It’s really a very classic kind of pop video. It just happens to be men instead of women.”
As for what “sexy” means to him, Casey Spooner says he has “a weakness for smart people.”
He currently has a “big art crush” on Tom Burr. “He gave me a book of poetry that he wrote, and so I have kind of a big crush on him right now,” Spooner says. “He also made these incredible sculptures that I’ve always loved, where he recreates interiors of sex clubs out of plywood in museum spaces. They’re these very interesting interiors, but you didn’t really know what they were, but they were these very strange, charged, cultural spaces that were for sex. So I have a big crush on Tom.”
Another of-the-moment crush of Casey Spooner is photographer Alair Gomes. “He got all these men on the beach in the ’70s, in Rio. I’m just crazy about Alair Gomes’s work,” he says.
The record Fischerspooner fans are treated to with SIR, Casey Spooner says, was at one point in danger of becoming a gay cliché. And of all people, it was Michael Stipe — the R.E.M. frontman and close friend of Spooner’s, who produced the album — who kept that from happening.
“It’s kind of crazy, because I set out with the agenda to do this sort of shameless, queer, hyper-sexual record,” he says. “I wrote for a long time, before Michael got involved, and I wrote so many bad songs about sex. It’s really a difficult thing to do. It’s really hard to write sexy songs that aren’t just completely stupid. I wrote a lot of bad songs about sex.”
Things shifted, though, once Stipe got involved with SIR. “Because he really pushed an emotional component that I hadn’t keyed into,” he says. “He forced me to sing more raw, more expressive and with a more emotional quality. I was reticent to be too weepy and sexy, but in the end it’s what I needed.”
“I needed kind of a broader spectrum,” says Casey Spooner. “I needed a more complete picture of a gay man that was sexual and emotional.”