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Sunny pop that’s ‘Nice and Nicely Done’

The Spinto Band is destined to blow up huge, with or without kazoo wranglers. By Paige Newman
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When you see the Spinto Band play it’s easy to tell they’ve been friends a long time. Maybe it’s the way Nick Krill and Thom Hughes trade vocals, or the way Hughes and Joey Hobson actually trade guitars during one song. Or perhaps it’s the way most of the band can’t stop grinning at each other through an entire show. These guys are buzzed on playing music and is it ever contagious.

The band plays tight Kinks-flavored pop — with an early 90s new wave kick. The way Krill and Hughes trade vocals, there’s a bit of a 60s-style Beach Boys flavor — and the boys admit a love for Brian Wilson. With six members onstage, there’s a lot going on here. The band even uses kazoos on the song “Brown Bags” — with specially made kazoo holders (actually, they look like twisted coathangers). Their debut CD, “Nice and Nicely Done,” is one of the more energetic releases you’ll pick up this year.

These aren’t your typical broken heart love songs. In “Mountains,” Krill sings: “Every fork in the road I didn’t take / Has never once cut me a break” in a song about a man who’s completely decided to change his life and leave everything behind, including his girl. In “Crack the Whip” Krill sings, “This is an itch I just have to scratch,” asking a current girlfriend for a break in their relationship, so he can go after another girl. The songs vary in sound from the extremely poppy “Oh Mandy” to the Flaming Lips-style “Japan is an Island.”

The Spinto Band is actually more than just a group of friends. It’s two sets of brothers, Thom and Sam Hughes and Joey and Jeff Hobson, plus their friends from their Wilmington high school, Krill and Jon Eaton (friend Albert Birney is also an occasional member). They knew they wanted to play music from a young age. “We kind of had this idea, even before we had instruments, about being a band,” says Thom Hughes. “We drew comic books about like being a band. We made videos of us playing air instruments.”

These guys have a musical heritage as well. The Hughes brothers’ stepfather is alt-country band Sin City’s vocalist Scott Birney, while the Hobson brothers are the sons of Sin City’s Stevie Hobson. Sin City gave the Spinto boys their earliest gigs. “Back when we weren’t very good,” adds Sam Hughes. They also gave the Spintos their leftover instruments and recording equipment. Handy relations to have.

The band’s name also goes back to their musical heritage — Krill’s late grandfather Ray Spinto was an amateur songwriter and when the band stumbled upon some of his songs, they became among the first the Spintos played. The boys chose the Spinto Band moniker in tribute to grandpa Ray.

For a band with such a great sound, the Spinto boys are still pretty young. They count Ween and Pavement among the bands they used to listen to when they were “young.” Nineteen-year-old Sam and Joey aren’t even allowed to hang out in some of the venues the band plays. These days, the band names a variety of influences from underground hip-hop to ’60s psychedelia. Krill even professes a love for Irving Berlin and Cole Porter.

I can just feel my spidey-sense tingling that this is one of those bands that’s going to blow up — and huge. Sooner or later, they may even have professional kazoo wranglers.

For more information on the Spinto Band, visit: