Archive: Low (Alan Sparhawk) interview

Low are one of my favourite bands, and have been since I was in college – but I’ve only ever gotten to see them live once. And that was last year, at Andrew’s Lane Theatre in Dublin. When I first got into them, they had just played Nancy Spain’s in Cork, but as I hadn’t known much of their stuff I didn’t attend. They haven’t played Cork since, and each time they returned to Ireland I was never able to go – exams, money, travel, you name it, there was a reason I couldn’t go. When it came to their gig last year, I was delighted I’d finally, finally get to see them live – and then my colleagues organised a work outing that night – you know, one of those events that’s extremely hard to get out of going to, and one I’d have loved to attend….but in the end, I chose Low, and of course it was the best choice I could have made. I don’t think I stopped thinking about the gig (and my brief chat with Alan) for days after…I only wish I could have made those early Irish gigs.

Low are playing Killarney, as part of the Kilkenny Arts Festival, on 15th August. And guess what? I won’t even be in the flipping country. Ever wonder if you’re cursed….?

I was very lucky to do a phone interview with Alan Sparhawk (he, his wife and drummer Mimi Parker and bassist Steve Garrington make up Low) in advance of the Irish gig. He was a great talker and so the interview was far, far longer than the word count I was allocated, and I had to cut about half of what he said. I even turned the interview from my usual style into a Q&A style interview so I could save his quotes, but that still meant a lot had to be cut. I’ve always wanted to put the rest of what he said online for others to read, so I’ve decided to do that today.

Below is the original interview, and beneath it is the unedited transcript of the rest of the interview. I hope you enjoy it.

From the Event Guide

By Aoife Barry

Duluth, Minnesota-based band Low have been together for more than 15 years, specialising in their own unique brand of minimalistic, down-tempo indie rock. Over their last few albums, the band have expanded their sound and added heavier elements that, rather than alienating fans of their original lo-fi sound, have brought them even more international acclaim. The band’s eighth album, ‘Drums and Guns’, was released in 2007.
The core of the group is husband and wife Alan Sparhawk (guitars/ vocals) and Mimi Parker (drums/vocals), while newest member of the band is bassist Steve Garrington. Aoife Barry spoke to Alan Sparhawk as the band prepared to return to Ireland for what promises to be another very special

You’re at home in Duluth at the moment – is Duluth somewhere where you can relax and get away with everything to do with the band?

Yeah, it’s sort of weird – it’s nice to be home, and obviously family and everyone’s here and you get some rest, but the weirdest thing about coming home is the adjustment. When you’re on tour, your mind gets used to kind of moving every day, you have a specific goal each day that you’re trying to get done, and then at the end of the day
you’re done. But when you get home it’s a little more amorphous, and you end up at the end of the day going ‘What did I do today? Did I get done what I was supposed to? What’s going on here?’ (Laughs) Hopefully it’s not like my ego is addicted to it. You get used to that small world.

Are you looking forward to playing Ireland again?

Our first few experiences playing Ireland, we played smaller cities as well because we drove around quite a bit. We went up to Cork and places like that. The first time we played it we played some crazy lodge. I guess being around the country is nice because Dublin is so big, it’s so good to get around the country. Yeah we really have nice shows [there] so it’s always kind of a good tone to the fans there I find. Every place has its unique feel to it. Dublin’s very distinct. Continue reading “Archive: Low (Alan Sparhawk) interview”


Archive: of Montreal interview

Labyrinthian Pomp

By Aoife Barry

Why play by the rules when you can set the rulebook on fire and dance on the flames? For Athens, Georgia-based band of Montreal, music isn’t something that has to be constrained by rules and regulations – who says things have to go verse-chorus-verse? Since the band was first formed by Kevin Barnes back in the late 1990s, they’ve gone from a pretty traditional lo-fi band to an all-out psychedelic group that bring their listeners on a wild trip through a world where the word ‘normal’ is banned. Key to this is the band’s theatrical live performances, which have recently seen Barnes bound on stage naked or astride a white horse. Who knows what we should expect when they play Dublin on January 28th.

It has been a long journey for of Montreal – through more than 20 releases, numerous side projects, the famed Elephant 6 Recording Company collective (which also produced Neutral Milk Hotel amongst other bands), extended stays in Norway, marriage, childbirth, break-ups and make-ups. But through it all, they’ve kept evolving, kept pushing the boat out and creating music that breaks down the notion of what ‘pop’ music really is. Their work was eventually recognised with the release of the dark ‘Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer?’ in 2007 – and now, with ‘Skeletal Lamping’, things are about to seriously explode for this close-knit band. They’re currently in the middle of a US tour and will be back in Europe in the New Year – and they’re bringing with them a stage show that’s a feast for the eyes and the ears.

“Our show is theatrical,” explains an ebullient Kevin Barnes backstage before a show in Tampa, Florida. “We have three or four performance artists on stage with us and they’re doing a bunch of different things. We have little skits and things like that. But all the while we’re just playing the songs from the records and stuff. It’s almost like a meta-style performance where there’s all these things happening at the same time. Sometimes the things go along with the music; sometimes they’re just completely independent. We basically just wanted to create a dynamic entertaining visual performance to go along with the music.” Continue reading “Archive: of Montreal interview”