Red Sparrowes Speak To Sonic Abuse

K: The titles of the tracks on your albums read from first to last are something like a short story. Having that in mind, do you see your works as closed concept albums?

Dave: Yes and no. They certainly are intended to be single standalone concepts, and we hope that listeners will take them in as a complete mental-cinematic experience. However, we also don’t wish to dictate the experience that people get out of the music itself. Individual songs should be able to stand alone and people should be able to appreciate the music on whatever levels they chose, regardless of the intended message to the song titles and album concepts. Maintaining that open-ended fluidity is a very challenging thing.

K: One more thing concerning the song titles. What comes first? The story, that you want to tell, or the music? At what stage of the process do you know what the album is going to be about?

D: The music is typically written first and the album concept is intended to exist as a separate idea, such that no one should feel “required” to get the same meaning out of the songs. We did have a running concept tying the Aphorisms EP to the new album, so that did exist as we were writing the new album.

K: Some time ago I spoke to a band called God Is An Astronaut, who just like you used visualizations for their live shows. However on their recent tour they skipped them, thinking that people paid to much attention to them instead of concentrating on the music. Have you ever thought of that in that way?

D: No. We consider the visuals an important element to the live presentation as they interpret the overall concept of the albums from which each song is derived. The visuals tend to take the place of that linguistic/visual/gestural aspect of a lead singer. But, moving further beyond the realm of the traditional rock band, the visuals add a storytelling aspect while also creating an all-encompassing “total environment” within which the audience can be transformed into other mindsets.

K: Is there a chance for a DVD with your live performance sometime in the future?

D: We have considered that, but it seemed like a deterrent from getting people to come to the live shows. We like to change up the visuals for nearly every tour and if it seemed that people came to expect to see the exact same thing they’d seen on their TV screen, it could be disappointing. We’ve all grown very accustomed to the music video in the modern age and we don’t want the visuals to be mere music videos, but rather a part of the live experience.

K: Weren’t you ever tempted to write movie music?

D: We would absolutely love the opportunity to score music for films. The offer simply hasn’t been made just yet.

K: You make visualizations for single songs, haven’t you ever thought about making a whole movie that would correspond to your music, just like it was done with Pink Floyd’s “The Wall”

D: That would be cool, but considering how arduous and disappointing “The Wall” was for the members of Pink Floyd, I can only imagine it would be extremely expensive and difficult to accurately capture the ideas we’d set out to capture in a feature film. Who knows though, we might end up doing something along those lines someday.

K: Apart from touring with bands from your musical region you had a chance to play with Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds. How did this happen, and how did their fans respond to your music?

D: That was a very special treat for us, for sure. I had played drums in Bad Seeds & Grinderman drummer Jim Sclavunos’ band The Vanity Set several years ago. Red Sparowes played the Eurokenees Festival with Grinderman in 2008 and Jim got his bandmates to watch us and they apparently enjoyed it. We were invited to tour with the Bad Seeds a week later. Their fans were quite gracious, especially considering how vastly different we were to the Bad Seeds aesthetic.

K: Why did you change your label. What was wrong with Neurot Recordings?

D: Things had simply run their course for us and Neurot. Sargent House was able to offer a new approach across the board for us and it made complete sense to move on. We’re very happy where we are now while also extremely grateful to Neurot for all of their support throughout the years.

K: How does your writing process look like?

D: All songs are composed as a group, through many tedious hours of working out the finite details of every sound layer and every rhythmic shift. It takes us a long time to write songs, but the end result is always quite satisfying to know that everyone had a share in its creation.

K: Can you share with us, what’s the story behind your latest release?

D: Put simply, the new album concept has to do with human nature and the ways it can sabotage us all. Our brains are hardwired to very quickly find connecting points between cause and effect — and to use those connecting points to assume what will happen next. It’s an outcropping that has enabled our ancestors to hear a rustling brush, spot an animal and anticipate whether it or he will flee or charge. And, while all of us humans are collectively the works-in-progress of a constant process of evolution, along the way myriad “wrong ideas” spring up to derail progress in favor of easier, more comforting ideas. This album endeavors to explore that complicated and frustrating truth we most often fear: that random chance has greater impact on the outcomes of all things than our belief in causality. The fear of the unknown is excruciating, but therein lies the answer.

K: Is there a chance that your Polish fans will have a chance to listen to your new material live sometime in the nearby future?

D: Absolutely. We are starting our fall 2010 EU tour in late September with shows in Warszawa, Poznan and Gdynia. It is always wonderful to play in Poland. The audiences are extremely supportive and very friendly. In many other parts of the world, audiences are less interested in interacting with the band, but we love meeting people at our shows and we’re glad that fans in Poland are not too shy to say hello.

K: Red Sparowes started as a side project for most, if not all of its members. How does the situation look now?

D: It did indeed begin as a side project, though we never treated it as such. It has always been a serious band. These days however, it does feel much more like a priority for us all. Especially considering the recent breakup of Isis.

K: Your latest release seams how to put it, calmer, less heavy and angry than your previous albums. Is that something that you planned, or did it come out during the writing process?

D: It’s difficult to have the proper perspective on it as a band member. I feel like it merges the melodies of the first album with the experimental aspects of the second. It was written over such a long time period and a huge amount of song ideas that it feels like we arrived at a cohesive whole from a very diverse batch of material. We have a lot of heavier songs awaiting completion and other ideas as well that we hope will continue to propel us forward. We hope that each album can be taken for what it is rather than an indication of one direction or another.

K: Is the life on the road and the band’s functioning changed in any way since you have a lady among you?

D: No, and I don’t see how or why it should. We are all unique individuals and gender, ethnicity or any other factors may influence who we are individually but not the band as a whole. Having any new individual in a band will change how it functions on the road. This question seems to have an offensive implication.

K: In one of the interviews you said , that the reason that you are an instrumental band is that neither of you could sing. Are you saying that there is a chance, that we will hear a Red Sparowes song with vocals in it someday?

D: The new album, The Fear Is Excruciating, But Therein Lies The Answer has vocals on it, in fact. We didn’t emphasize that much because for some reason everyone seemed to think that us adding vocals meant we would have the usual Death Metal cookie monster growls on the songs. The goal was to use vocals as an instrument, while avoiding the trappings of traditional rock singers. We fully intend to experiment with voices in the future, but not in any traditional sense.

K: Your EP “Aphorisms” was available in digital form long before it was available in physical form on a CD. Do you think that CDs will join cassettes on the music carrying media graveyard like many experts predict?

D: The EP was released digitally in order to coincide with a tour before the physical edition would be available. We had originally planned to release a DVD with the EP, but had to abandon that plan because it was proving far too difficult to make it happen in a reasonable time frame. So, that explains the lag between the two formats. I think the notion of “recorded music” in general will eventually go to the graveyard much like the old form of sheet music went in the early 20th Century.

K: Do you think, that if that would happen the vinyl would outlive them, just like it did with cassettes?

D: Vinyl is a great medium, and perhaps the best means to experience recorded music. But, it too will likely become a rare physical entity. People are moving toward an informational future, where immediacy outweighs formality. This should be embraced, just as live performance is embraced. Music will thrive in the future. The physical formats will most likely not thrive, but they will probably survive for ages to come.

K: In one of the interviews you said, that you don’t listen to music similar to yours and that’s why you didn’t know that there are so many post-rock oriented bands. That seemed very strange to me. Do you listen to your albums in your free time, or you just need to get that kind of music out of you by writing it and performing it live just to get it out of your system, and want to have nothing to do with it afterwards?

D: Our sound is generated organically from a combination of unique individuals and their ideas. Other bands do the same. Generally speaking, if you listen to others arriving at similar conclusions from diverse origins, it’s going to make what you do sound more homogenous. I prefer to avoid listening to contemporaries that are described as fitting in a similar vein.

K: Do you think, that the fact that some of you came from such respected bands as ISIS or NEUROSIS helped you in any way?

D: Yes. And it also may have hindered us as well in the expectations of the audience.

K: “At the Soundless Dawn” was, as you said somewhere, an album about the fact that human kind is threatening life on earth by being the main cause of the sixth extinction. Do you think there is still time to prevent that from happening?

D: Only time will tell. Humanity is a resilient species, as are many other unexpected survivors of the ages and elements. Our power is the ability to see causality and anticipate outcomes. So, I think there is indeed hope for us yet.

K: Is there anything you’d like to say to our readers? .

D: Hello and thanks for listening to our music. You have given us much and we hope to give back as well.

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