Another article with those loveable brothers in Sparks. He sure knew a good band when he saw them, Mr. Makowski, which is why he is regarded as one of the legends of British music press.
Interview: Pete Makowski
The lightning fast rise to fame for Sparks has been quite an enigma. I mean their debut hit single wasn`t instantly appealing in a commercial sense and their excellent “Kimono My House” album has been riding high in the charts since its release, which means they are no one hit wonders.
The Mael brothers are a commercial success, something they undoubtedly deserve, leaving a lot of bewildered critics puzzled. The band have stayed in the background since their sellout tour, and the brothers have been travelling around the world promoting themselves.
Now they are back with a new album, single and tour which leaves an everyday journalist like myself with many questions to ask them.
I spoke to the brothers at Island`s Basing Street Offices where they were listening, with keen interest, to the `B` side of their new single with their fan club secretary Joseph Fleury. Ron and Russ were as per usual impeccably dressed and generally seemed to be in good mood.
If a commercially orientated swine were in Sparks` shoes he would probably release many singles in the same vein of “This Town” which leads me on to tell you that the band`s new single “Don`t Turn Your Back On Mother Earth” is totally diverse to what you`ve heard before, making it completely original and jolly good – which is something that has been Sparks` trait.
The band have recently lost the services of guitarist Adrian Fisher. So what happened Russ?
“We let Adrian have his release from the band, to put it mildly we kicked Adrian out of the band. We`re just at the point in our careers, we`re not exactly sure whether we`re going to carry on as a five piece. We may add a guitarist but we`re not sure what we`re going to do. If we`re going to have an extra guitar player he`s going to be one contributing something more in the vein of Sparks as opposed to a more traditional style of a guitar player, and we just thought this was the time to make a bit of a change.”
The brothers recently made a return to their homeland – the USA. How was their arrival taken? “Oh, it was really incredible, well it was really a shock, the news had filtered about what was going on with the band in England, so everyone in the States was aware of that,” said Russ, “when we left Los Angeles we were just some local LA band who played the Whisky A Go Go. We went back and we`re this regular band who… er y`know made it big in England. It was funny because we were treated differently than when we had lived there.” The brothers have also visited other countries where they had a certain amount of notoriety before they broke over here. “It`s just been amplified to like ten times of what it was before,” said Russ.
Ron: “All those countries look to England for their spiritual guidance.”
Russ: “They need to know what to be aware of then they pick up on it.”
Ron: “Is Dacht groovy? Ya das i`cht groovey.”
The band`s new single is very different to the other two releases, is this intentional?
Ron: “It`s just played at the wrong speed.”
Russ: “It wasn`t done intentionally as a single, the same goes for the other two. This one wasn`t done as a single, it was just done as another song. There were a lot of possibilities on the new LP that could have been the next single and that we did think about. It wasn`t the thought like `let`s do something different from the other two singles`. It was just one of the songs and everyone said it was a single and we were keen on the idea. We really like the element of surprise.”
Ron: “The element of committing suicide.”
I asked the brothers how they felt about the new album.
“On the other album we just went in and layed down the basic tracks so it would sound good with the band,” said Russ, “on this LP we didn`t approach it at all like that.”
The album, titled “Propaganda”, comes at a tender stage of their careers. Now that they`ve reached a certain peak of success they`ve got to sustain it and establish themselves. Did they bear this in mind when they recorded it. “One thing that was really an aid to the whole thing was that it was our third album, because I think we would have been quite inhibited on our next one which is our fourth. It`s the fourth as in the second, if you can see my meaning. We weren`t worried about this album because we were so involved in it. I think if we stopped to think about it we might have got a bit nervous, but as it turned out we just did it and we`re really pleased with it.
“We`ve never been especially goal orientated `cause we just can`t operate that way, it`s just sort of do your stuff and hope for the best.”
I wondered if the brothers listened to their old material.
Ron: “It tends to make you too self conscious of your career. In ten years` time I`m going to get all of our albums and listen to them and have a real wild time.”
Russ: “A lot of people who have heard the new album have said it really sounds like a combination of our first three LPs. It`s got the hardness of “Kimono” album but then has a bit of the… whatever the elements were in the first two albums, a bit of that flavour but more aggressive. A lot of people say that.”
I asked Russ how he felt about the hysterical reaction he received. He paused for a moment, giving Ron an opportunity to step in.
Ron: “Admit it, you had the time of your life.”
Russ: “I enjoyed it. The only other approach we might take as opposed to having me outfront is to have, that`s if we do decide to get another person, is possibly have a third person who is as strong. A sort of personality so there can be more conflict on stage. To add a third person makes it more aggressive visually.”
I have personally transcribed this from the original paper. Any errors in the text from the original magazine may not have been corrected for the sake of accuracy. If you have a music-related web-page where this fits – please make a link to the article. With credits to the original writer of the article from all of us music fans!
This number of Sounds also contains articles/interviews with these people: Ron Wood, The Sharks, John Cale, Michael Fennelly, John Sebastian, Tony Visconti, John Entwistle, Maggie Bell, CSNY, Scott English, Tommy Aldridge, Tom Scott, John Grimaldi, Brian Robertson, Steve Howe, Lorraine Ellison.
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