Spun Out

Touch The Sound (Shuga Records/Spun Out Productions)

Contact Jacob Daneman about Spun Out

It’s easy to get lost in Spun Out’s lush and immersive songs. On their debut album ​Touch The Sound,​ the Chicago outfit has created something expansive and exciting across 10 tracks.Full of mesmerizing grooves, melancholic pop bliss, and thrilling studio experiments, the LP is a document of a band truly pushing themselves. With songs simultaneously perfect for a packed rock club or a sweaty dance floor, this is an album that instantly grabs you and takes hold with each successive listen.

Spun Out’s story starts with the end of NE-HI. As their former band ended its influential half-decade run in 2019 as one of Chicago’s foremost indie rock acts, Mikey Wells, James Weir, and Alex Otake continued making music together. “We were all wanting to try new sounds and doing Spun Out gave us an opportunity to really explore,” says Wells. While they had spent years making four-piece indie rock, their new material reflected their evolving tastes with more danceable, spacey, and heady textures. “We were already moving towards a new sound. We were on the same page. It instantly felt right when we first started writing together,” says Otake.

The band’s first few writing sessions were a whirlwind of creativity and soul-searching. “If we’re going to do this, it needs to be really open and collaborative emotionally and artistically,” says Wells. They enlisted Josh Wells (Destroyer) as producer and his approach to generating new sounds fit seamlessly with the band’s newfound ethos. “We were searching for a new creative process and using the studio as an instrument became more of an important thing for us,” says Weir. Opener “Another House” captures this initial spark and their daring songwriting. The track builds slowly but surely to a hair-raising peak complete with pulsing synths and a cacophony of drums and guitars.

“Instead of recording everything live and just trying to capture the energy, we were more intentional: tracking as many layers as we wanted to and then peeling it back. There were no limitations in the studio and were able to shape these songs more,” says Otake. That’s not to say their studio experimentation results in a lack of energy. These songs burst with life and color. Just take the propulsive track “Running It Backwards” with its interlocking guitars and driving bassline. It’s an example of a band operating at full capacity, able to channel the raucousness of rock’n’roll into something pastoral and weird. Elsewhere, single “Such Are The Lonely” takes New Order wistfulness into something that’s distinctively their own.

Spun Out is an open door for collaborators and over the course of making ​Touch The Sound​, they enlisted a diverse cast of musicians to flesh out these songs including Destroyer’s JP Carter, Caroline Campbell, saxophonist Kevin Jacobi, Patrick Donohoe, keyboardist Sean Page, guitarist Jake Gold, Deeper’s Shiraz Bhatti and Nic Gohl and others. “This isn’t just a three person band. We want to keep it a revolving door for our friends to come in and work with us,” says Weir. The culmination of this comes in “Off The Vine.” Anchored by a swirling bass line and Carter’s trumpet, the track is woozy and groove-based. There are Talking Heads guitars and euphoric harmonies. It’s peak Spun Out and a microcosm of the multitude of ways this band works. “It’s a reflection of the band all playing together. Lyrically, it feels everything I wrote worked up to that song. It’s about Feeling out of sorts and growing into adulthood and managing. Trying to pool from all these changes in my own life,” says Wells.

While this album investigates the confusing emotional territory of feeling disillusioned and growing up, Spun Out are certain in one thing: each other. Says Weir, “We’ve only gotten closer as friends and bandmates. We’re basically brothers.” It’s not just a love letter to their expanding adventurousness as artists but also to Chicago’s vibrant music community and their evolving bond. Like its title suggests, ​Touch The Sound​ is an invitation to do just that.