THE FANZINE THAT FEATURES SMALL AND UNSIGNED BANDS
Wednesday, February 3, 2010
INTERVIEW WITH SPARROW AND THE WORKSHOP
For some reasons, Sparrow and The Workshop are a very special band for this fanzine, or at least our comeback. Not only were they the first band I reviewed but the coincidence from above wants them to bethe first band that's interviewed by me as well. How do they sound like? Best to ask it themselves but if you're into stuff like Mazzy Star, Fleet Foxes, Natalie Merchant or Cowboy Junkies then changes are big you're digging them. Lo-fi country jinglejanglerock with attitude, anyone? Here is what Jill and I spoke about.... HELLO, PLEASE INTRODUCE YOURSELVES AND HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR MUSIC THEN? We are Jill O’Sullivan on vocals and acoustic guitar, Gregor Donaldson on drums and vocals, and Nick Packer on bass, electric and slide. I GUESS YOU HAVE TO ANSWER THIS IN EVERY INTERVIEW, SO HERE’S MY TURN….WHY CHOOSE FOR THIS BAND’S NAME? It started as Dead Sparrow but it seemed a bit morbid. The “workshop” bit got added on because Gregor wanted a Drum Workshop sponsorship. We JOKE! It seemed to fit because we all like to make things and we’re all into birds and coming up with names is really difficult so we just went with it. THE BAND IS A TRIO AND ALL THREE OF YOU COME FROM DIFFERENT PLACES FROM ALL OVER THE WORLD. IS IT THAT YOU THINK, WHICH GIVES YOUR MUSIC A QUITE UNIQUE SOUND, OR NOT? It’s hard to say for sure what makes us sound the way we do (and thank you for thinking it’s unique) but perhaps it is that we all have diverse tastes in music. When we go into the practice space to bash out new tunes we end up being really excited because each individual does something that the other wouldn’t have thought of doing but that sounds right to everyone…Does that make sense? A lot of it is intuitive, but our influences probably creep through subconsciously. TALKING ABOUT SOUNDS. I HEARD ORIGINAL INDIE FOLK-LOFI GUITARPOP. BUT WHAT DO YOU THINK IF PEOPLE COMPARE YOU WITH BANDS LIKE FLEET FOXES OR AS I ALREADY READ JEFFERSON AIRPLANE? That sounds like a good description of us, Didier. It’s funny when people say we’re channelling the American west coast folk scene, almost like we’re making stylistic choices. As if writing a song was like a math equation or a collage. It’s much simpler, we’re just making songs that we put our hearts into and if they happen to evoke memories of other bands in people then that’s fine. Also, journalists probably need comparisons to give readers an indication of how a band might sound. The fleet foxes comparison makes sense in light of the fact that we do harmonies and play some acoustic instruments. And yeah, I guess we can sound a bit psychedelic which would make the Jefferson Airplane comparison understandable. IT'S TRUE JILL, I KNOW PIGEONHOLING IS A BAD THING BUT AN UNMISSABLE THING TO GUIDE THE READER COS FOR A REVIEWER IT'S EASY, HE HEARS THE MUSIC BUT THE READER OFTEN HAS TO DEAL WITH WORDS ONLY..... HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN ACTIVE IN THE MUSICSCENE? We played our first gig in the first month of 2008, so we’ve been going for about 2 years now. Crikey!!! WITH WHAT SOME STATE AS THE DEATH OF THE MUSICSCENE (WELL FOR SURE THE DEATH OF THE MUSICINDUSTRY) HOW DOES A BAND FIND THE COURAGE TO START A CAREER IN MUSIC? I KNOW IT’S A LONG WAY WITH HARD WORK, NOT? Wow, so far we’ve been extremely lucky and, with the help of our small label, have been given an opportunity that a lot of equally or more deserving bands don’t get. But hard work is definitely necessary. Labels (big and small) are suffering because people just don’t buy as many cd’s as they used to, so bands need to tour as much as possible and hope that people come out to the gigs and buy albums when they’re out there. We love playing gigs so it’s thrilling for us to do that, but it’s a lot harder for bands then people on the outside realise. If albums don’t do well then labels drop bands and if bands can’t sustain themselves without some kind of label helping them with recording costs and distribution (and the diy scene is supportive but not very sustainable, realistically) then they have to turn it back into a hobby and focus on other ways of making a living income. At least, this is what we’ve come to see in the last 2 years. I mean, a dark forecast is that maybe in the future only wealthy people and pop stars backed by major corporations (think x-factor) will be able to make music for a living and the industry will go in that direction even more. Who knows! But we love playing music so we’ll just keep touring and working hard and see where the wind takes us. ISN’T FRUSTRATING TO CONVINCE EVERYBODY YOU’RE ACTUALLY GREAT BUT ARE FACED TO MANY CLOSED DOORS? Eek, tricky question. Sometimes we feel frustrated because some bands get far more hype than others and we’re sort of in the back of the queue going, well if you just listen to us and ignore the hype then you might like what you hear, but then other times we think, we’re glad we’re not hyped up and part of a media circus because that would feel weird. On the positive side, when people come to our gigs and we recognise them from other gigs we’ve played it’s overwhelmingly amazing because we can’t help but think those people really do like our songs and that’s more important to us than filling a 1000 capacity room. DO YOU BELIEVE IN THE “NEW MUSICSCENE”….I MEAN STUFF LIKE MY SPACE, FACEBOOK INSTEAD OF THE TRADITIONAL MUSICSCENE? Yeah, why not! Anything that helps new bands get their music out there is good. I’ve heard some people complain that there’s a lot of bad music out there because of the internet, well, if you don’t like it then don’t listen to it. That’s the beauty of it. It’s the same with music blogs. There are a lot of self-made music journalists on the web now, and some are quite good, some are not so good. It’s up to the people browsing the web to decide what blogs they want to read and what they don’t want to read. And if they discover a new band in the process then, hurrah. HOW STUPID IT MAY SOUND, WHAT ARE YOUR MOMENTS OF “FAME” YET AND WHAT ARE THE GOALS IN THE FUTURE? Ooh, fame?! None, I’m afraid. Well, actually, sometimes people have asked us to sign their cd’s and tickets and stuff, which is really sweet of them. Our goals are to tour our new album “Crystals Fall”, which comes out April 12 on Distiller Records, and to continue working on new songs. I KNOW THIS IS IS A SILLY QUESTION I ASKED MYSELF A LOT, BUT THE ANSWER ISN’T EASY….WHAT DOES MUSIC MEAN TO YOU? It’s not such a silly question. It is difficult to answer though. I guess playing and listening to music are a bit different, too. Playing music is great because it’s very challenging to try and put emotions into songs, and to get them across to listeners in the final composition without getting carried away. Listening to music is a different experience. You can listen to whatever you want depending on your mood, and that is what is great about it. It’s so accessible. It is also powerful, you can listen to something and suddenly be inspired to do something, whether it’s as simple as dancing or as complicated as, I don’t know, knitting. LAST QUESTIONS ARE QUESTIONS I ALWAYS ASK, I CALL IT THE TRADITIONAL ORIGINAL SIN-QUESTIONS… WHAT’S YOUR FAVE RECORD OF ALL TIME AND WHY? Jill- Hard Rain by Bob Dylan Nick- Rocking the Forest by Sebadoh Gregor- ...and justice for all by Metallica WITH WHO WOULDN’T YOU MIND BEING STUCK IN AN ELEVATOR FOR 8 HOURS AND WHAT WOULD YOU DO THEN? Jill- Simon Cowell –I’d punch him right between his botoxed eyebrows repeatedly. Nick- Someone who can repair lifts I guess so we could get out quicker, I don't think I could last 8 hours without denting my head against the walls. WHAT A STUPID ANSWER, NICK!!!! Gregor- Eva Mendes... THAT'S MY BOY, NOT THAT I LIKE HER..... DO YOU WANT TO SAY SOMETHING SPECIAL TO OUR READERS? Just a ‘thank you’ to anyone who took the time to read this!! THANK YOU!!!!!! Thank you Didier!!!!