Built to Spill are an American indie rock band based in Boise, Idaho, United States. The band has released eight full-length albums, and its most recent album, Untethered Moon, was released on April 21, 2015.


Former Treepeople guitarist/vocalist Doug Martsch formed Built to Spill in 1992 with Brett Netson and Ralf Youtz as the band's original members. In an interview with Spin, Martsch stated that he intended to change the band's lineup for every album, himself being the only permanent member. After the band's first album, Ultimate Alternative Wavers was released in 1993, Netson and Youtz were replaced by Brett Nelson and Andy Capps for 1994's There's Nothing Wrong with Love. A compilation album called The Normal Years followed, which included recordings by both line-ups. Built to Spill Caustic Resin, an EP that features Martsch with the members of Caustic Resin, was released in 1996. Between recording albums in 1995, the band gained exposure by playing on the Lollapalooza tour. Also in 1995, the band collaborated on the song "Still Flat" for the AIDS benefit album Red Hot + Bothered produced by the Red Hot Organization.

Martsch signed Built to Spill to Warner Bros. Records in 1995. Unlike many artists signed to major labels, the deal the band brokered with Warner Bros. allowed it to retain a large degree of creative control over future albums. Built to Spill produced its first major label release in 1997 with Perfect from Now On. By this time, the band consisted of Martsch, Nelson, Netson, and Scott Plouf. Perfect from Now On was met with critical success and caused Built to Spill to become one of the United States' most recognizable indie rock bands. Before releasing another album, Martsch made Nelson and Plouf permanent members of the band. In 1999, the band released Keep It Like a Secret to continued critical success, and for the first time, significant commercial success. Live was released in 2000, and the band's fifth studio album, Ancient Melodies of the Future, was released in 2001.

In 2002, Martsch released Now You Know, a solo album with both blues and folk elements. He performed numerous solo concerts in support of the album. Built to Spill was on hiatus for most of this period.

Doug Martsch performing with the band at Primavera Sound Festival.

Warner Bros. Records optioned the band for another album.[1] From 2003 to 2005, Built to Spill toured extensively, performing over 150 dates, [2] that included new songs as early as 2004. Its sixth studio album, You in Reverse, was recorded in Portland in 2004, but was not released until April 11, 2006. The band's official lineup for the album was Martsch, Nelson, Plouf, and Jim Roth, who was formerly only a touring guitarist. Brett Netsonprovided guitar work on several songs and later rejoined the band as a full-time member.

After the release of You in Reverse, Built to Spill continued touring almost non-stop. In March 2006, Martsch suffered a detached retina which required surgery. This forced the band to miss an appearance at the South by Southwest music festival and postpone several dates of the tour.[3] Even worse news came when former drummer Andy Capps was found dead in his home on May 18, 2006.[4][5]

The band resumed touring on June 3, 2006, a show that included four new songs. This show and many on the tour included the dedication of the song "Car" to Capps, who had played on the track when it was recorded.[6]

Warner Bros. Records stated that Built to Spill had been recording its follow-up to You in Reverse on and off during the 2006 tour,[7] but nothing appeared until the July 10, 2007, release of a 12" single, "They Got Away"/"Re-Arrange". "They Got Away" was a heavily reggae-influenced original song, while "Re-Arrange" is a cover of a song by the reggae band The Gladiators.

The U.S. tour was scheduled through October 2007, followed by an Australian tour. Martsch stated in a September 2007 interview that he didn't want to tour in the United States again until the band records;[8]however, the band then announced a one-month U.S. national tour for spring of 2008.[9]

In a March 2008 interview with Playback:stl,[10] Martsch stated that a side project of his has been new Halo Benders material, but "we started that about a year ago, we have not even got anything off the ground." Later in the interview, Martsch gave his perspective on the future of Built to Spill past the current material; "I do think that Built to Spill could be something better than ever just because our lineup is better than ever ... I think there is potential for the five of us to collaborate on something that is just way better than anything that I have ever come up with by myself or that we have done in the past." Martsch also interjected that "This coming record we're not doing that—it's mostly going to be songs that I have been working on."

The band extended its 2008 tour in the United States and Europe, performing the album Perfect from Now On in its entirety.

The tracklist and album art for There Is No Enemy were revealed on August 17, 2009, and on September 8, the first single, "Hindsight", was released.

Built to Spill played the 2009 Pitchfork Music Festival in Chicago, along with Yo La TengoTortoise and The Jesus Lizard, as part of the "Write the Night" series, which allowed fans to choose which songs the bands play.

The band's website reported the start of an extensive United States tour with the Kings of Leon on August 20, 2009.[11]

Built to Spill released its seventh LP, titled There Is No Enemy, on October 6, 2009.[12]

In January 2010 it was announced that British-based label ATP Recordings had signed the band in Europe to release There Is No Enemy. It was also announced that the band was chosen by Matt Groening to perform at the edition of the All Tomorrow's Parties festival curated in May 2010 in Minehead, England.

In July 2010 Martsch and Nelson re-recorded seven songs as synth-pop tunes, one from each BTS record, using anagrams of their original titles. The songs were released on the E.P. The Electronic Anthology Project; it received a moderately favorable review in Pitchfork, even though "it was obviously released as a goof," and the "good moments almost make you wish Martsch had taken this concept more seriously."[13][14]

In August 2010, the band announced the start of a tour in support of There Is No Enemy, to start August 27.[15]

On October 25, 2012 Built to Spill played a secret, invitation-only show at the Bunk Bar in Portland, Oregon with a new rhythm section consisting of Jason Albertini (HelvetiaDuster) on bass and Stephen Gere (Uzala, Brett Netson Band, Atomic Mama) on drums.[16]

On January 7, 2013 Martsch, Netson and guitarist Jim Roth announced they would be joined by new band members Steve Gere (drums) and Jason Albertini (bass) who replaced Plouf and bassist Brett Nelson.[17]

Influences and comparisonsEdit

Martsch has cited Dinosaur Jr.'s J Mascis' style of heavy, catchy guitar hooks as an influence on what has come to be Built to Spill's call sign. The band has also citedNeil YoungPavement and Camper Van Beethoven as influences. Built to Spill has been cited as an important influence for fellow rockers The AtarisModest Mouse,The StrokesBrand New, and Death Cab for CutieIsaac Brock and Ben Gibbard have both cited Built to Spill and Treepeople as major influences, and all three bands have had a lengthy association with the indie rock movement known as the Northwest sound. Additionally, Built to Spill is connected with other Northwest bands including Brett Netson's band Caustic Resin and The Halo Benders, a collaboration between Martsch, Calvin JohnsonSteve Fisk, Wayne Flower, and one-time Built to Spill drummer Ralf Youtz. Across musical genres, rapper Cage in his "Ballad of the Worms" directly sampled Built to Spill's "I Would Hurt a Fly."

Many of Built to Spill's influences can be found in their choice of cover songs. The band has performed live covers of Dinosaur Jr.Elliott SmithBlue Öyster CultDavid BowieCamper Van BeethovenThe CureCaptain BeefheartCaustic ResinCheap TrickThe ClashBrian EnoVince GuaraldiThe GladiatorsM.I.A.Macy GrayElton JohnGeorge HarrisonNew OrderSkip JamesDaniel JohnstonJohn LennonLove as LaughterLynyrd SkynyrdHeavenlySteve MillerGrateful DeadCat Stevens,Modest MouseOzzy OsbourneThe SmithsTalking HeadsThe Velvet UndergroundMetallica and Neil Young. Martsch also played several other covers on his solo tour.


Studio albumsEdit

Compilations and live albumsEdit



  • "Car" / "Girl" 7" (Atlas Records, 1994)
  • "Distopian Dream Girl" / "Scarin'" 7" (UP015, Up Records, 1994)
  • "Joyride" / "Sick and Wrong" 7" (K Records, 1994)
  • "So and So So and So from Wherever Wherever" / "Terrible/Perfect" 7" (Saturnine Records, 1995)
  • "Car" / "Scarin" (City Slang Records, 1995)
  • "By the Way" split 7" (K Records, 1999) – cover of a song by pre-Marine Research band, Heavenly. Marine Research covers Built to Spill's "Sick and Wrong" on the flip side
  • "Carry The Zero" radio promo (Warner Bros., 1999)
  • "Strange" / "Instrumental No. 2" (Warner Bros., 2001)
  • "Freebird" (Warner Bros., 2002) – one-track promo CD, recorded live at House of Blues, Los Angeles on November 7, 2001
  • "Conventional Wisdom" 7" (Warner Bros., 2006) – Song split on two sides
  • "They Got Away" / "Re-Arrange" (Warner Bros., 2007)
  • "Don't Try (Live in Seattle)" / "The Source (Live in Seattle)" 7" (Warner Bros, 2008)
  • "Water Sleepers" / "Linus & Lucy (Live)" 7" (Warner Bros., 2010) – Record Store Day Release
  • "Ripple" 7" Grateful Dead Cover (Warner Bros., 2011) – Record Store Day Release
  • "Living Zoo" promo (Warner Bros., 2015)

Appearances on other compilationsEdit

  • Rotating Tongues (Screemin' Fez Records, 1994) – Song: "Short Cut"
  • Northwest Post-Grunge (Elemental Records, 1994) – Song: "Terrible/Perfect"
  • Bite Back: Live at the Crocodile Cafe (PopLlama Records, 1996) – Song: "Allen the Cowboy" (later retitled "Big Dipper")
  • Spunk Magazine Issue 6 – Song: "Just a Habit" (1997)
  • Yoyo a Go Go: Another Live Compilation (Yoyo Records, 1998) – Song: "Stop the Show"
  • Here: A Fort Hazel Magic Compilation (Fort Hazel, 1999) – Song: "The Last Long Song"
  • Keep Left, Vol. 1: A Benefit for David Barsamian and Alternative Radio (Ace Fu Records, 2000) – Song: "This Is What I Believe"
  • Idaho Greentracks: A Party Sampler (2004) – Song: "Mr. Crowley"
  • Awesome Record, Great Songs! Volume One (Williams Street Music Label, LLC, 2008) – Song: "Come Over (feat. Built to Spill)"
  • Bob Dylan In The 80s: Volume One (ATO Records, 2014) - Song: "Jokerman"

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