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Built to Spill is an American indie rock band based in Boise, Idaho.
Former Treepeople leader Doug Martsch formed Built to Spill in 1992 with Brett Netson and Ralf Youtz as the band's original members. In an interview with Spin magazine, Martsch stated that he intended to change the band's lineup for every album, himself being the only permanent member. After the band's first album, Ultimate Alternative Wavers was released in 1993, Netson and Youtz were replaced by Brett Nelson (not Netson) and Andy Capps for 1994's There's Nothing Wrong With Love. A compilation album called The Normal Years, which included recordings by both line-ups as well as a track by Built to Spill Caustic Resin, was released in 1996. Between recording albums in 1995, the band gained exposure by playing on the Lollapalooza tour.
Martsch signed Built to Spill to Warner Bros. Records in 1995. Unlike many artists signed to major labels, the deal the band brokered with Warner Bros. allowed it to retain a large degree of creative control over future albums. Built to Spill produced its first major label release in 1997 with Perfect From Now On. By this time, the band consisted of Martsch, Nelson, Netson, and Scott Plouf. Perfect From Now On met with critical success and caused Built to Spill to become one of the United States' most recognizable indie rock bands. Before releasing another album, Martsch made Nelson and Plouf permanent members of the band. In 1999, the band released Keep It Like a Secret to continued critical success, and for the first time, significant commercial success. Live was released in 2000, and the band's fifth studio album, Ancient Melodies of the Future, was released in 2001.
In 2002, Martsch released Now You Know, a solo album with both blues and folk elements. He performed numerous solo concerts in support of the album. Built to Spill was on hiatus for most of this period.
Warner Bros. Records optioned the band to another album. From 2003 to 2005, Built to Spill toured extensively, performing over 150 dates. The shows included new songs as early as 2004. Their sixth studio album, You in Reverse, was recorded in Portland in 2004, but was not released until April 11, 2006. The band's official lineup for the album was Martsch, Nelson, Plouf, and Jim Roth, who was formerly only a touring guitarist. Brett Netson provided guitar work on several songs and later rejoined the band as a full-time member.
After the release of You in Reverse, Built to Spill continued touring almost non-stop. In March of 2006, Martsch suffered a detached retina which required surgery. This forced the band to miss an appearance at the South by Southwest music festival and postpone several dates of the tour. More bad news came when former drummer Andy Capps was found dead on May 18, 2006.
The band resumed touring on June 3, 2006, a show that included four new songs. This show and many on the tour included the dedication of the song "Car" to Capps, who had played on the track when it was recorded.
Warner Bros. Records stated that Built to Spill had been recording for their follow-up to You In Reverse on and off during the 2006 tour., but nothing appeared until the July 10, 2007 release of a 12" single, "They Got Away"/"Re-Arrange." "They Got Away" was a heavily reggae-influenced original song, while "Re-Arrange" is a cover of a song by the reggae band The Gladiators.
The current U.S. tour is scheduled through October of 2007, after which the band is scheduled to tour Australia. Martsch stated in a September 2007 interview that he doesn't want to tour in the United States again until the band records.
Influences and comparisons:
Martsch has cited Dinosaur Jr.'s J Mascis' style of heavy, catchy guitar hooks as an influence on what has come to be Built to Spill's call sign. The band has also cited Neil Young, Pavement and Camper Van Beethoven as influences. Built to Spill has been cited as an important influence for fellow indie rockers Modest Mouse and Death Cab for Cutie; Isaac Brock and Ben Gibbard have both cited Built to Spill and Treepeople as major influences, and all three bands have had a lengthy association with the indie rock movement known as the Northwest sound. Additionally, Built to Spill is connected with other Northwest bands including Brett Netson's band Caustic Resin and The Halo Benders, a collaboration between Martsch, Calvin Johnson, Steve Fisk, and one-time Built to Spill drummer Ralph Youtz.
Many of Built to Spill's influence can be found in their choice of cover songs. The band has performed live covers by David Bowie, Camper Van Beethoven, Captain Beefheart, Caustic Resin, Cheap Trick, The Clash, Brian Eno, Vince Guaraldi, The Gladiators, Macy Gray, Elton John, George Harrison, Skip James, Daniel Johnston, John Lennon, Love as Laughter, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Marine Research, Steve Miller, Ozzy Osbourne, The Smiths, The Strokes, Talking Heads, The Velvet Underground, and Neil Young. Martsch also played several other covers on his solo tour.