Built To Spill Bridges Generations Of Boise Music Fans

Feb 12, 2013

Credit Warner Bros. Records

Boise indie rock band Built to Spill is back in Idaho’s Capitol for a series of shows after a tour through the Northwest. Tonight, the 20-year-old band will do something they’ve never done before – play a concert geared toward the under 21 crowd. The band asked that their younger fans get first dibs for tickets to tonight's show.

Brion Rushton has seen Built to Spill more times than he can count.

“They’re hometown favorites – local boys that made it – that made it big time," says Rushton. "Signed to a major label but didn’t ‘sell out.’ ”

Rushton is the assistant manager at the Record Exchange in Boise.
He admires Built to Spill’s leader, Doug Martsch. 

“I heard their first record in 1995, 1996. I was in high school; I was a fan of Doug’s previous band that he was in called the Treepeople," Rushton says. "And so [I] just followed along.”

Rushton thinks the band has maintained its indie compass over the last twenty years. The group has kept longtime fans coming back for more by not bowing to trends or moving to a bigger city. But the alternative rock band is also drawing younger fans – who weren’t even alive when the Boise group gained national fame in the mid-90’s.  
Hannah Ponder is one of them. The Boise High student grew up listening to Built to Spill. She went to elementary school with the lead singer’s son.
“[Doug Martsch] was coming in to do something with the orchestra," says Ponder, "and so I was like, ‘Oh, Built to Spill, that’s a real band. I still think that’s really cool.”
The 17-year-old is thankful the band still calls Boise home.  
“It’s like one good thing about Boise. When people hear ‘Boise’ or ‘Idaho’ they kind of just think of potatoes and Nazis. But then, sometimes they’re like ‘Built To Spill and I’m like ‘Something positive, Oh my God!’”
That kind of enthusiasm is music to Rick Gershon’s ears. Gershon is Built to Spill’s longtime publicist with Warner Bros. Records. He says right now, the band is at the height of it’s popularity. Gershon says the band isn’t sure why they have this multi-generational pull, but they’re humbled by it.
“They’re very much aware that their original audience has stuck with them for all these years and all these records," says Gershon. "But for whatever reason, a younger audience seems to have discovered Built to Spill. They’re aware of this and they’re very grateful.”
He says the band is especially thankful for the loyalty and love it receives from its Boise fans. That’s partly why tonight’s show is possible – the group usually plays only at 21+ venues in town. But Martsch worked with a local music promoter to set up the show to give those who can’t legally drink a chance to hear Built to Spill live, some for the first time.  

Maya Weppner is one of those young fans. The 9-year-old is headed to the special all-ages show tonight. Her parents got her tickets for Christmas, along with the band’s 1997 release on vinyl:

“Perfect From Now On."

Maya says it’s her favorite Built to Spill album.

On a recent Sunday morning, the Weppner’s record player blasts the indie band. Maya’s baby brother Benji cranks the tunes even higher.

Maya’s mom, Marisa Weppner, will accompany her daughter to tonight's show.

“We’re excited about it," she says. "Because we’re a family that loves music – so to share that experience with Maya is awesome.”

Brion Rushton, with the Record Exchange, is excited about the band playing back in Boise. He thinks the band’s decision to play an all-ages concert shows Built to Spill cares about its younger fans.

“A lot of amazing bands that come to Boise that kids, teenagers, don’t have access to. By and large, kids have been shut out – especially from Built to Spill shows. It’s nice that this effort’s being made.”

This effort to acknowledge the band’s young fan base seems to be paying off. Tickets for tonight’s show at the Crux have been sold out for weeks. Built to Spill fans of all ages are looking forward to rocking out together.  

Copyright 2013 Boise State Public Radio