It’s been five years since Doug Martsch and company gave us the last Built to Spill album, but he’s hardly been sitting at home in Idaho listening to his old records.
During the interim, Martsch launched a solo career with the rootsy “Now You Know” and produced an album for fellow Idahoans Pajama Party in a Haunted House. But Built to Spill was hardly a dead issue, and this year the group came back with an exceptional new album, “You in Reverse.”
“I wasn’t that interested in making rock music or listening to our band and the kind of music we make,” said Martsch, who formed the band in 1992 in Boise.
“Actually the solo album was recorded before the band’s last record (2001’s ‘Ancient Melodies of the Future’), but that’s defi nitely when I started getting kind of burnt out on alternative rock.”
Martsch — who had to delay a tour to promote “You in Reverse” after undergoing surgery for a detached retina — brought Built to Spill back together slowly, incorporating into the process guitarist Jim Roth, who had toured with the band before.
“The whole idea was just to jam around and see where we went, because I had no ideas at all,” he says with a laugh.
Consequently, Martsch says that “You in Reverse” “is definitely the most collaborative thing that we’ve ever done. I was never against other people’s ideas from the very first thing we did, but before I think I had more ideas.
“Now I’m less certain of what I want to do.
“So I not only welcome ideas, but I encourage them. That’s what the jamming was all about, for people to come up with their own ideas for the songs.
“I think it makes for more interesting music when it’s coming from a lot of different views instead of one person’s.”
But rest assured that Martsch is still Built to Spill’s boss.
“Well, I think everyone in the band understands the bottom line is that I’m the one who kind of has to fi gure out what’s really going to happen with the songs,” he acknowledges.
“Everyone is fine when I make adjustments to what they’re doing or whatever, so, yeah, I’m still kind of running things.”
Built to Spill and Helvetia perform 8 p.m. Thursday at Saint Andrews Hall, 431 E. Congress, Detroit. Tickets are $17. Call (313) 961-6358 or visit
Send your thoughts and comments to