INTERVIEW: Sparrow Sleeps
-Hi guys, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?
Casey – Doing well! Thanks for having us.
-Can you talk to us more about your latest singles “The Sugar Song” and “Sharing is Cool”?
Peter – “The Sugar Song” is one that had 2 or 3 complete rewrites of the song lyrics before we we’re able to pass the track off to Kailynn West and Tony Thaxton to record vocals. We were prompted to write this one from the negotiating tactics that often happen when kids are eating: “Ok, three more bites of your broccoli and then…”. They seemed to have tons of fun recording the track and I think that shines through when you listen to it.
When we started writing “Sharing is Cool”, we knew wanted two vocalists who were close so they could play up the dynamic of fighting over not wanting to share. Dan Lambton and Joe Taylor immediately came to mind. With both of their bands hailing from Chicago, all the touring that they’ve done together, and their side project Rationale, we knew they’d be a perfect fit.
-Did any events in particular inspired you to write these songs?
C – Well, we’ve been making lullaby renditions of pop-punk songs for 3 years now (almost to the day). This is the first time that we, as a lullaby b(r)and, have thrown original material out into the world. The idea of a pop-punk kids album was an idea that popped up in conversation one night last summer, and Peter and I just decided to go for it.
P – Writing and releasing kids songs together seemed like a natural progression from the lullabies we were releasing as Sparrow Sleeps. We’ve been honored by the support the we’ve seen from the artists that we’ve covered as instrumental lullabies, so we knew this would be a great opportunity to get them even more involved with the music we put out.
-Any plans to release a video for either song?
P – We did a lyric video for the first single “The Sugar Song”, but beyond that we don’t have any plans. We’d definitely love to, but the biggest thing holding us back right now is time. Casey and I do everything at Sparrow Sleeps (writing and recording music, artwork, video editing, web development, marketing, customer support, shipping orders, etc.). So needless to say, we’re pretty busy right now. We’ve definitely discussed some ideas on how we’d pull off a music video, but we’ll just have to wait and see if we can find some time to pull it off.
-The single comes off your new album Sparrow and Friends Start A Band! – where did the idea for the album come from?
P – We named the new Sparrow Sleeps project “Sparrow and Friends” because we wanted to include the other artists doing guest vocals as part of it and also differentiate it from the lullaby covers we put out as Sparrow Sleeps. The album title “Start a Band” was inspired by Me First and the Gimme Gimmes album titles (Have a Ball, Are a Drag, etc.) where the band name plus album title complete a sentence. We wanted to set ourselves up to have a fun series of these album. The “Start a Band” title was an appropriate start to that as it was our first divergence from lullabies.
-What made you guys want to record children’s albums?
C – My daughter just turned 3. She’s the reason why Sparrow Sleeps is even a thing. A week after she was born, I was transposing Saves the Day songs onto bells and using those to rock her to sleep in the middle of the night. This was just kind of the natural progression of the project as she grows up. She really loves listening to songs from Doc McStuffins and Mother Goose Club over (and over, and over, and over…), so the idea was kind of “Why isn’t there music that resonates with parents AND their children?” Kids music doesn’t have to be tacky. It can still be good while being cheesy.
-How was the recording and writing process?
C – It was definitely strange. We wrote and demoed the majority of the songs from home before taking them into the studio. Our studio musician, Gabriel Stonerock, is seriously the most talented dude I’ve ever met. I played in bands with him for years back in my early twenties. He helped bring these songs life with the fun guitars. It was strange being able to write songs and embrace cheesiness during the recording process. After we knocked out the songs instrumentally in the studio, I’d record scratch vocals at home and send them off to the guest vocalist for that song. Seth then dropped the vocals in and tied everything together.
-What was it like to work with Seth Henderson and how did that relationship develop?
C – Working with Seth is awesome. He was good friends with Gabriel, and they’ve recorded together plenty of times in the past, so they already had an established rapport. ABG is such a comfortable place to track too. There was so much coffee and beer.
P – I actually worked with Seth with another band I was working with that he recorded back in 2009. When we started talking about hitting the studio last year, Casey and I both wanted to record with Seth at ABG. It’s an amazing studio and, even more importantly, having Seth producing the album made the recording process feel like a breeze.
-How much did he get to influence the album?
C – We really loved the overall sound of Copacetic, and those Bonfires EPs were soooo good. We kind of let Seth do his thing, and we were so pumped when we heard the final mixes.
P – We have a lot of trust with Seth. There were plenty of times where if he had something in mind that he wanted to hear out of a track, we’d give it a shot and we were never be disappointed with the outcome.
-How did all the guest vocalists come to be a part of the album?
C – I still ask myself this question. Haha. That track list has so many artists on it that I grew up listening to. We really just asked politely, and a lot them had kids so they were intrigued by the idea. It’s still pretty surreal though.
P – As we were writing each song, we came up with an artist or two that we thought would be a good fit to sing on it. Somehow all these amazing artists that we reached out to said yes. It definitely still feels unreal.
-What aspects of your lives did you get to explore on this record?
C – That’s a deep question for a kid’s album. I guess I really got to focus on what was going on in Sparrow’s head. She’s learning so much, and soaking in everything. As I wrote the lyrics to a lot of these kids songs, I got to teach childhood lessons the way I would want to word them, and also pick subject matter that would relate to Sparrow. And there’s no greater feeling than driving down the road with Sparrow in the backseat and having her ask to listen to “the ‘pay-wo seeps band.”
P – I have a nephew and a small army of nieces so a lot of the inspiration came from hanging out with those little ones.
-Any plans to hit the road?
C – Not currently. I don’t think we’d be opposed to being the opener on a tour with some bands we like though. Hit us up, tour managers!
P – Sparrow Sleeps and now the Sparrow and Friends project have given us some crazy opportunities and taken us down some bizarre roads. So, I think we’d be open to it!
-What else is happening next in Sparrow Sleeps’ world?
C – We’re going to release a couple more lullaby albums at some point later this year. We’re working on some fun non-musical collaborations for early next year. And if the music community approves, then maybe album 2 in 2017?
P – We have a handful of new lullaby albums on the brink of being released and I don’t think we’re slowing down with carrying on with new Sparrow and Friends music as well… even though the first album hasn’t even officially been released yet. Ha.