Built to Spill Frontman Plays ‘No Place Like Home’

Singer and songwriter Doug Martsch performs his first virtual show for Noise Pop.

“No Place Like Home,” the Noise Pop-hosted live streaming series to the San Francisco independent music scene, kicked off last week. K-Flay, Finish Ticket, and Zelma Stone launched the series, raising funds for Bottom of the Hill on Tuesday; and Rogue Wave, Spooky Mansion and Meernaa followed with a Thursday-night show to raise funds for Cafe Du Nord.

This week the shows continue with tonight’s performance by Geographer, Rituals of Mine (DJ set), and Fast Times raising funds for Rickshaw Stop — home of the Aaron Axelsen-produced indie dance party, Popscene.

On May 14, the fourth installment in the series will be headlined by Doug Martsch of indie icons Built to Spill. The Thursday-night show raises funds for Slim’s and Great American Music Hall.

Martsch shares the bill with Wetface and fellow Boise-bred band, Clarke and The Himselfs — both of which have toured with Built to Spill in the past.

Martsch’s solo, streaming performance comes hot on the heels of the release of Built to Spill’s ninth album, Built to Spill Plays the Songs of Daniel Johnson. The tribute to the late singer-songwriter was released ahead of schedule on May 1 — a month before it was slated to drop. The show also comes after the subsequent cancelation of two upcoming Built to Spill shows, which were also scheduled for next month at Slim’s. The venue, a longtime staple of the San Francisco music scene, was already slated to close for good before the coronavirus pandemic shut it down early.

We caught up with Martsch via email to ask him about these extraordinary times.

SF Weekly: Was Noise Pop’s No Place Like Home series something you wanted to be a part of right away?

Doug Martsch: Yes. BTS has been playing at Slims for 20 years. We may have played there more than any other venue. The staff and management has always been amazing to us and the opening acts. I will really miss it.

SFW: Have you done any other live-streamed shows during all of this?

DM: This will be my first.

SFW: How has the pandemic affected the rest of your tour schedule?

DM: We had planned to tour for about three months this year and it looks like we won’t play live at all in 2020.

SFW: What drove you to making a cover album?

DM: In 2017 we backed up Daniel Johnston for some northwest shows. In 2018 we were going to record some demos at our friends house but we decided to record our versions of the Daniel Johnston songs we learned instead just for fun. We liked the way it sounded so we decided to make it available.

SFW: As a full time musician, what is appealing to you about learning cover songs?

DM: Probably the same thing that makes us all want to sing along with songs we love.

SFW: What’s your favorite cover song and have you ever performed it?

DM: There have been so many I can’t pick a favorite. I loved playing “Abba Zaba” by Captain Beefheart, because I thought it would be impossible to learn.

The music is scheduled to start streaming at 7 p.m. every Tuesday and Thursday night with proceeds from the highly recommended donations going directly to San Francisco venues, the artists and the Noise Pop Industries Employee relief fund.

Tune in via Noise Pop’s Facebook, Twitch or YouTube channels.

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