On the same day in 1982 that Duran Duran put out their ground-breaking Rio, a band many north of the border thought could be North America’s own Duran Duran put out a key record. Canada’s The Spoons released their signature song “Nova Heart” as a single 40 years ago.
The Spoons formed in the outer suburbs of Toronto around the beginning of 1980, consisting of high school sweethearts Gordon Deppe and Sandy Horne and various other members. Deppe took the majority of vocals and played guitar, Horne added backing vocals and played bass (prompting a few comparisons to Talking Heads). Other members came and went on keyboards and percussion, but the core pair were, and remain to this day, the “face” of The Spoons.
After growing a solid fanbase in Ontario and putting out an indie album in 1981, they brought in John Punter, who’d worked with Roxy Music, to produce their second album, Arias and Symphonies which was still an indie release, but this time with a label that had better distribution in Canada at least. The album went gold at home and was a massive success in their home city. CFNY-FM in Toronto, then run by David Marsden, had it as their #4 album of the year (Rio was #2 on the same list) and their U-Know Awards picked them as Band of the Year the next year. “Nova Heart” became the first of five top 40 hits they had in the Great White North and was still voted among the 200 best songs of all-time the following decade by Toronto radio listeners. The album also got them an opening spot on Culture Club shows, which in turn caught the attention of Niles Rodgers who was impressed enough to ask to produce their third album, Talkback, which would also go gold in Canada.
The band seemed to have the right sound for the time, a synthy new wave with a good dance beat, and the photogenic good looks of many MTV bands (worth noting though that Much Music hadn’t begun in Canada yet so there was no 24-hour music station to play their videos at the time) and contacts with solid producers. But somehow that failed to turn heads – or ears – outside of their homeland and they never had any noteworthy success outside of Canada. They broke up for awhile but have been back at it on and off for the last decade, putting a new single “Beautiful Trap” on their website a couple of years ago and releasing a compilation album on both vinyl and CD in 2020. Deppe, meanwhile, has recently also been playing guitars for another flashback to ’82 – A Flock of Seagulls.