Lawrentian gets the real spin on the Spin Doctors

Christine Beaderstadt

After a nearly five-year absence from the mainstream pop-rock scene, the Spin Doctors are making a comeback with their latest album, “Nice Talking to Me.” In the mid-’90s, two bombastic hits sent the Doctors spinning around the world on tours, photo shoots, and promotional gigs. “Two Princes” and “Little Miss Can’t Be Wrong” jumped these flannel-wearing, grungy New Yorkers straight to the top of the music world. In 1992, MTV kept their music videos in constant play and they appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine. They were nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Rock Vocal Performance in 1994.
Why haven’t we heard of them since? What ever happened to that fun, carefree band that captured everyone’s attention? Were they just one-hit wonders?
With their current UK tour thriving, and the hoped-for success of their album release, the Spin Doctors are setting out to disprove that claim. Judging from the jam-packed crowds, audience enthusiasm, and sold-out shows, they are doing quite well. But according to guitarist Eric Shenkman, they “do not want to be canned as a revival band.” Lead singer Chris Barron, armed only with a microphone and some impressive dance moves, entices the audience into grooving with him, while drummer Aaron Comess sets the pace for the shows. At their recent concert in London at the Mean Fiddler, fans swayed their arms in an unsynchronized wave and mouthed the words to songs that have not yet been released to the public.
So, in response to everyone’s questions about a comeback, Eric Schenkman says, “We’re older and have been around. A lot of things that derailed us the first time around won’t now.”
Schenkman, the first one to leave the band in 1994, is optimistic about the band’s future. “We can negotiate better. The band is much better in a club atmosphere. We are trying to do things more organically.”
After withdrawing from the Sony/Epic record label in 1996, the Doctors are doing things their own way. They no longer produce records themselves: producer Mark Wallace, who has also worked with Maroon 5, helps alleviate the band’s stress. They are taking things at their own pace. Bassist Mark White says matter-of-factly, “This is like a cakewalk. It can’t get any harder than that.”
As for their latest record, all four band members heartily agree that this is their finest album. “[Our songs] are like kids that go off to college and come back to take care of their parents,” says Shenkman. Each loves the fame and fortune that has come along with the band’s success. White expresses his feelings about what the Spin Doctors has brought him: “Free traveling. [Plus], I get to show off in front of people. That’s what musicians do. Let’s be honest.”
This candid, upfront attitude is quite apparent in their music. People naturally gravitate toward their funky-yet-grounded sound, which is easy to listen to. It’s no surprise, then, why they were nominated in 1994 for an American Music Award for Favorite Pop/Rock Album. “Nice Talking to Me,” according to Schenkman, is a 21st-century version of the early ’90s Spin Doctors. They’ve stayed true to the unique sound which first brought them stardom over ten years ago.
After a hiatus of five years, the band is back on its feet and ready to tackle the musical world. “This is a band that likes to revisit,” says Schenkman. We’re glad that they’ve decided to pop back into mainstream rock and say hello.