I AM SPOONBENDER at the 360 (326 Queen West), Tuesday (May 6). $7. 416-593-0840.
After two years of hiding, I Am Spoonbender have emerged with some big changes. The band initially received critical acclaim for their driving, atmospheric synth rock, but on their new EP, Shown Actual Size, there's a more song-oriented focus on vocals.
This unfortunately opens them up to comparisons with electro-clash. But San Francisco-based producer and multi-instrumentalist Dustin Donaldson explains that the shift wasn't calculated to take advantage of changing trends.
"The simple explanation is that I just wanted to hear Cup's voice more. I thought it was an underused instrument. I also had some ideas I wanted to explore, like plastic surgery, which gets addressed in I Went And Had My Knives Sharpened, and other tracks look at capitalism and absurdity."
Long-time fans are warned not to expect too much of the back catalogue when they take the stage, because the band has lots of new, unreleased material they're eager to play out. Donaldson assures us, though, that the show will be even more extravagant than their previous appearance in Toronto.
"I can guarantee that no one has seen a show of this magnitude at a venue of this size. We're playing a lot of new songs that aren't on any of the albums this time around.
"Last time we played in Toronto, at the Horseshoe, we were halfway through the first song when I heard a piercing sound. I looked around trying to figure out who was playing that part - it sounded like the worst thing I'd ever heard. The next thing I knew a guy was crawling around onstage, ripping the plug of our fog machine out of the wall. Then I realized it had set off the fire alarm. Hopefully, that won't happen this time."
Spoonbender's live shows typically involve uniforms, lots of lights and projections and smoke machines, of course. The telephone is a reoccurring image onstage, as are their namesake Uri Geller-style bent spoons. (Geller's a fan of the band.)
"The telephone is a visual prop born out of the time when Cup still lived in Vancouver, when she was still in Cub. We developed a relationship that was based solely on the telephone because we lived in different countries, so it became the most precious object for our friendship.
"It just became a central image. If you were to take the telephone back 200 years, it'd be perceived as a magic object from another dimension that people would worship. It's almost become invisible because of how usefully and perfectly it works. For example," says Donaldson, referring to our conversation, "it allows us to do this."