Nirvana’s Nevermind may be getting more attention, but 2011 marks the twentieth anniversary of another Very Important Multi-Platinum Album: the Spin Doctors’ Pocket Full of Kryptonite, which ultimately sold 5 million copies in the U.S. and another five overseas. The Spins are playing the record front to back on their U.S. club tour, which starts tomorrow and hits their hometown Bowery Ballroom on October 13. We caught up with front man Chris Barron on the Upper West Side, where he spoke about the band’s pop-culture moment, getting made fun of by Sarah Silverman, and playing "Little Miss Can't Be Wrong" on repeat.
Are you still happy to go out there and play “Two Princes” and “Little Miss Can’t Be Wrong” after all these years?
Yeah. Because the thing about the Spin Doctors is, we’re talking to each other in the music all the time. And, luckily, “Little Miss Can’t Be Wrong” and “Two Princes” are — I’m glad our hit wasn’t “Achy Breaky Heart,” you know what I mean? They’re good songs and they’re upbeat songs. People are like, “Do you get tired of playing the hits?” and I’m like, “Do I get tired of watching people go nuts when my awesome band plays a tune that we wrote?” Just, naw. I don’t get tired of it.
Did you start to feel a backlash from the public at some point after Pocket Full of Kryptonite?
I think there was a moment where the grass-smoking, tripping college hippies turned and saw 10-year-olds who’d seen us on MTV with their moms and dads and were like, “This isn’t my scene anymore.” You could definitely call it a backlash.
Have you seen the Spin Doctors episode of The Sarah Silverman Program?
No, but I heard all about it.
Do you know the gist of it?
[Laughs.] Yeah, this guy is supposed to be a badass who’s into all this eclectic heavy music, and then someone looks at his iPod and he just has “Two Princes” over and over and over again.
It seems like you’re totally down with this.
Yeah, man! You’ve got to have a sense of humor about yourself. When “Little Miss Can’t Be Wrong” was on the radio, Stuttering John from "The Howard Stern Show" came up to me at a party. He stuck a tape recorder in my face and was like, “How much in royalties do you pay to Steve Miller?” And I burst out laughing because I thought it was a really funny thing, you know? We had a great relationship with Howard Stern after that because they were like, “Oh, these guys can laugh at themselves.”
What do you think is the legacy of Pocket Full of Kryptonite?
That’s not really for me to say, you know what I mean? What I’m proud of is, we really put our hearts and souls into it. There’s not a dishonest note on the record. The other thing I’m proud of is we made really good decisions, because we didn’t put any cheesy synthesizer or effects that would lock it into a time period. The third thing I’m proud of is that we made this record and twenty years later people still give half a crap about it. That’s an amazing thing and deeply gratifying.
How did you feel on the cusp of your second album, Turn It Upside Down? A lot of people think it was a failure, even though it did sell a million copies. Did you think it was going to be another hit?
There was a lot of confusion in the band. We weren’t getting along as well and we were very burnt out. We probably should have taken a little bit more time off, and maybe we should have been in group therapy. I always did consider it ironic that the record sold a million copies but was considered a failure. You know, there were times when I felt bad about the way things went, but I don’t feel bad now. We didn’t have as clear a vision for Turn It Upside Down as we did for Pocket Full of Kryptonite, but going back and listening to it, I think it’s pretty awesome. There’s some great stuff on that record, even though it was a failure [laughs]. Sales-wise.