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Rob Pope's first days with Spoon started about a decade ago in a basement not too far down the road from here. So he's eager to see some friends at the Sept. 11 show in Omaha's Sokol Auditorium.

Actually, he's eager to see everyone since recently moving to rural Massachusetts.

"I'm fairly secluded, which is nice," Pope said. "I will say I do miss having a large group of close friends close by. But luckily right now, I'm on tour nine months out of this year or something like that, so I'm gonna see everybody."

Pope, a founding member of the Lawrence, Kansas, band, The Get Up Kids, was still living in Jayhawk country when word reached him that Spoon was in search of a bass player. The possibility of joining the Austin, Texas, band whose backbeat often shakes to the forefront of its deceptively sleek songs ("I Turn My Camera On," "The Way We Get By") intrigued him. So when Spoon's lead singer, Britt Daniel, emailed a list of 14 songs they were playing on tour at the time about five days before the band was due in Lawrence, Pope began to cram.

He had "Girls Can Tell" on vinyl, he was pretty sure. The rest of the band's back catalog, he figured he picked up at the Love Garden, a (editorialization alert) fantastic record shop not too far from the bar he and his younger brother co-own there, the Bourgeois Pig.

He auditioned for Spoon in the basement where The Get Up Kids rehearsed and hung out during the early 2000s with contemporary acts like The Strokes and Har Mar Superstar when they passed through town, and Pope earned a spot in the band.

"They were coming through town in Lawrence to play a show, and we ended up rehearsing in my basement," Pope said. "We went through 12 or 13 of the 14 songs that he sent me, and I made it through, you know? I'd spent the five or six days before that. I did my homework."

He's been recording with Spoon since they released 2007's revered, "Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga," so he is now part of the backbone of half the band's extensive catalog, which recently released "Hot Thoughts."

Now that he's in Spoon (and still with The Get Up Kids), Pope's no longer a walk downstairs to a basement rehearsal space.

"Right when I started playing in Spoon, Britt moved out of Texas," Pope said. "He moved to Portland, so my experience, as long as I've been in the band for 11 years, we've been a band that we've really got to plan ahead to make band practice happen. We can't get together a couple nights a week and play music for a couple hours. We get together and we rehearse for 10-hour marathon days and try to get as much out of it as we can, because everybody is coming in from different cities. We're a commuter group.

"Becoming adults and becoming middle-aged makes scheduling so much harder, and I'm sure that applies across all sorts of careers and occupations. It certainly applies to bands and musicians. All of our time is really valuable and we're respectful of that and we just try to do what we can to plan it out and get as much work done as we can."

Pope and the rest of the band have said that the concentrated efforts continue to pay off in Spoon's recordings. The band, Pope said, is at its best both touring-and recording-wise as it's been since he joined. And they're looking forward to performing some of those early-era songs that Pope learned during his Spoon crash course as well as selections from "Hot Thoughts," which Pope, who in 2016 performed the ultra-rare task of ranking his own band's records for a Vice piece, now ranks No. 1.

"We work really hard," Pope said. "We want this record to be massive. We want a ton of people to hear it. We collectively think it's the best record that Spoon's ever made. And I think the band is headed in a very cool, new-ish direction without abandoning our past at all. For whatever it is, we're not in our 20s but we're ready to keep going."

Pope called prior to a show in Boulder, Colorado, and soon after Spoon played with fellow Matador Records labelmates Belle and Sebastian at the Hollywood Bowl.

For Spoon, it was a bit of a weird show, seeing as a decent amount of the audience was brandishing silverware unrelated to the band's name.

"The crowd there is just a little ... pretty safe and self-aware, like dinner theater, you know?" he said.

"The first 10 rows of people, maybe they're subscribers or something, but everyone's just sitting there, eating dinner. You know, it didn't feel very rock 'n' roll. But that place is just so beautiful and amazing and it sounds really good and it looks really cool, but it kind of threw us off our game. We're used to playing with people right in our faces."

That won't be a problem at Sokol, as Pope knows from experience. He's played the auditorium with The Get Up Kids and Sokol Underground with another project, White Whale. This is Spoon's first show in Nebraska in ages, and some tickets remain for the 8:30 p.m. show on Sept. 11 at Sokol, which features Twin Peaks opening. They can be purchased at Ticketmaster.com.

Reach the writer at 402-473-7438 or cmatteson@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @LJSMatteson.


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