Interview – Sparrow and the Workshop

May 3, 2010 by  

Glasgow based folk noir purveyors Sparrow and the Workshop have had critics and fans praising their début album ‘Crystals Fall’ since its release in April. The band are currently on tour with The Brian Jonestown Massacre, and lead singer Jill O’Sullivan took some time out to have a chat with us…

Your début album, Crystals Fall, has had a great response critically, did you expect it to be received so well and how did it feel to finally see it released?

No way! We were really surprised by the good reception, and relieved…Reading bad or lukewarm reviews is painful. I mean, we can pretend it’s not but it is! We put a lot of work into the album so its good that people enjoy it…and we were really excited to get it out there, it was great putting out EPs but there is nothing like having an album, and a vinyl in particular, to give to people.

How long did it take to write and record the album, and what was the process like?

The whole process was a bit of a patchwork quilt, we recorded some at Gregor’s parents house, some at Marcus Mackay’s Divingbell and some at Chem19 with Paul Savage. This is because we were writing songs and releasing EPs as we wrote, and then after 2 Eps we were recording some tracks with Paul Savage and decided we were confident now about which songs to put on an album. So the album is basically a culmination of a lot of work, really.

On the album you reference music from across the last 60 years, is this something you’ve always set out to achieve, and are there any artists in particular that had a direct influence on the album?

We all have pretty diverse tastes in music and appreciate multiple genres, but we never actually discuss how we want to sound, specifically. We just play stuff and if it sounds good to us then we record it and play it live too. It’s pretty cool that people can hear so many different artists in our music (I think, anyway), even though occasionally someone compares us to, say, the Pixies, and we’re like, they’re 10 times better than us, or occasionally someone will compare us to someone so random it makes us laugh (I’m talkin about the ting tings).

Before joining the band you lived in Chicago, did you find it difficult to find common ground musically with the rest of the band at first? Or do you think it worked in your favour?

Strangely, I think it worked in our favor. Nick and Gregor have always been big fans of American bands and I have always been a big fan of bands from this side of the pond…add to that the fact that I was born in Ireland and grew up listening to a lot of trad and folk…So we have lots in common, musically, in the end.

You used to be based in London then headed to Glasgow, what was the reason behind the move and how does Glasgow compare?

Our band formed in Glasgow, but Nick and I lived and worked in London prior to the move. We moved because even though London is really awesome, we always worked and rarely had time to focus on things we enjoyed, like playing music. We were attracted to Glasgow because it’s got a great musical vibe and also there is a really encouraging community of art and music makers up here. Glasgow is so different from London, they are like chalk and cheese, so I don’t really know how to compare them without taking up miles of paper!

Do you think the band changed at all when it moved to Glasgow?

We started in Glasgow so I guess that was the beginning of everything.

You’ve toured recently with some great bands, including Idlewild and Brian Jonestown Massacre, what has it been like, any highlights?

It’s been amazing! We feel really lucky. Idlewild are incredible and super nice to boot. We managed to get Rod up for a guitar solo on our song Crystals on our last night on tour and that was friggin’ awesome. We are currently on tour with the Jonestown Massacre, which is going really well so far. The whole band has been nice to us and Anton just jammed on our drumkit and treated us to some impromptu jazz drumming, so that was a highlight indeed!

What are the band’s plans for the rest of 2010?

First we’ll take Manhattan, then we’ll take Berlin. Only technically, we’ll take Berlin first and then Manhattan…and we probably won’t actually take anything, we might gain some weight stuffing our faces and make some new friends. And play festivals (Greenman, Bestival, Moseley Folk Fest and a couple more) and work on new songs. Fingers crossed we can keep up the pace and enjoy ourselves.

It has to be asked. Are you guys fans of Westerns? If so what are your favourites and who would win in a showdown, John Wayne or Clint Eastwood?

Yeah, westerns are good fun. Clint Eastwood would win in a shoot-out, John Wayne is all bravado. I guess our favorite western is Once Upon a time in the West…on super mare!

For more info on the band go to their Myspace Page and you can see their new video below.


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