After breaking through the mainstream in the early ’90s, the only thing that could slow the alt-rock juggernaut the Spin Doctors down was, as it turned out, the Spin Doctors themselves.
“You had to figure out how to get out of your own head,” guitarist Eric Schenkman recalls when asked about the band’s sudden popularity. “And that was the problem. The Spin Doctors communicate better with each other in music than we do in words.”
After breaking big with hit singles “Two Princes” and “Little Miss Can’t Be Wrong,” Spin Doctors, which got its start in New York City, imploded under the weight of its own success before re-emerging in the early 2000s and staying strong ever since.
And on the heels of their highly anticipated 30-year anniversary show at Brooklyn Bowl on Thursday, Schenkman sat down with amNewYork to divulge the inner workings of the band at the time, their most iconic songs and the weight of living up to the expectations their breakthrough hits created.
Take me through tracks like, “Two Princes”? What was the creative process like?
Chris [Barron] was singing that melody and I just made the chords underneath it. And that rhythm, as soon as I played it, Aaron [Comess] just walked into it and that was it. This band is full of moments like that. “Little Miss” was like that. “Jimmy Olsen,” they all happened pretty quick.
Your music is synonymous with the early ’90s. How did it feel to define the sound of an era?
In hindsight, it was difficult to manage. It was difficult to deal, not with the success, but with the expectations.
Did you feel like you had to live up to being the “Spin Doctors” instead of just being in a band called Spin Doctors?
Exactly what it was. We got real big, real fast. When I look back on it, if the record company had never called for the second record … if we just worked together a second year — and we should have — we would have lasted in a different way. Because we really got knocked off our game. Even though the record, which ended up being “Turn It Upside Down,” was a good record, it’s not completely cohesive. That started the next 15 years of uncertainty for the Spin Doctors.
Was there any point you guys realized things had changed?
When I quit the band in ’94. I really wanted the band to be what it was. I remember saying at one point, “Why are we going out behind this second record playing bigger venues? We need to play smaller venues so there’ll be a line around the block.” That’s where I was coming from.
How would you sum up 30 years of Spin Doctors?
Strong, organic rock and roll band is born in New York, cuts its teeth, has its teenage romp. Then gets incredibly weird for 10 years or so before it reforms [with] total passion.
If you go: The Spin Doctors 30th anniversary show is Thursday at 8 p.m. at Brooklyn Bowl, 61 Wythe Ave., Williamsburg, $20.