It’s all been happening lately for Sydney quartet Sparkadia.
They’ve recorded an album with producer Ben Hillier (Doves, Blur, Depeche Mode). Toured throughout Europe. Returned to Australia. Released their album Postcards, which peaked at #23 on the ARIA charts and has recieved considerable airplay on Triple-J. Briefly toured Australia. Then returned to Europe to play, among other shows, a spot in the Glastonbury Festival!
Huge thanks to lead singer Alex Burnett, who was gracious enough to take time out between shows in England to chat with LNaP about the surrealness of their success, haircuts, and his grandma.
Loud Noise and Pictures: Sparkadia pretty much burst onto the music consciousness in what seems like an overnight success. At what point did you think “wow, this band thing might be pretty successful?”
Alex Burnett: If it was an overnight success – it has been a very long evening…We started writing tunes of which some of them made it onto the debut record in 2003 and our first show was in mid 2005 so we have been doing what we do for a while now.
We always loved what we were playing and writing and believed in the songs, however we never really thought about “being successful” and never in our wildest dreams believed that we would be playing Glastonbury and all these other ridiculous festivals in the UK and Europe. My mum always said that we were pretty good, but i suppose that all mothers say that anyway!
LNaP: Tracks from Postcards have been getting a fair bit of play on Triple J and on Rage, how has public feedback been for the album?
AB: I don’t really get involved with reviews, however my grandma keeps all of them and she makes sure to read out all the good ones. Apparently there have been quite a few. Either way, we are excited that people have embraced the album and i am always amazed how each song is someone elses favourite song. It’s always fantastic for people to dig the album tracks as well as the singles.
LNaP: Generally, the reviews of Postcards have been quite positive and many reviewers have compared tracks to bands such as The Beatles, Pulp, Coldplay, Franz Ferdinand, The Smiths and others.
What has been:
A) The most flattering comparison?
AB: A girl once said that we sounded like a couple making love in studio 54!
B) The most bewildering comparison?
AB: There have been too many. Someone said that we sounded “brutal”. That was pretty metal!
C) The most accurate comparison?
AB: Bands never really like to compare their music to others as you always strive to be original. Someone said to me that we sounded like “hot liquid sex”. Awesome.
LNaP: Sparkadia was touring overseas, then popped back to Australia to release Postcards then you pretty much took off again. You guys must enjoy England/Europe?
AB: We will pretty much tour wherever will have us. We all live in Australia, however we have been given the opportunities to tour overseas so you would be mad not to say “yes”!
LNaP: There is a great Spinal Tap quote:
Nigel Tufnel: We’re very big in Bulgaria. And…wossisname…the other “Garia”…
David St. Hubbins: Hungaria.
Nigel Tufnel: Yeah, whatever.
You toured Europe extensively prior to the release of Postcards. Have you found that you now have a weird range of countries who are now Sparkadia fans – and how are you dealing with the international fame?
AB: We are really not that famous – if at all, however i heard that there is a german fanclub and a similar thing going on in scandinavia. We are very flattered! Someone stopped me in the street yesterday for a photos only to realise that i wasn’t the guy from stereophonics…
LNaP: Does it seem a bit ‘unreal’ that one day you’re in Sydney where a limited amount of people know the band, and then the next day, you’re playing gigs in countries that don’t even speak the same language?
AB: We do live quite a surreal life. Two weekends ago we had just finished our first sold-out headline tour around Australia and then we were on a jetplane to play Glastonbury. Last night we played a small club show in London. Today we play the wireless festival in Hyde Park and tomorrow we are playing at a festival in a zoo. It is the stuff of dreams.
LNaP: How does the band psyche up to get out on stage before a concert?
AB: We always have a few drinks, run through the setlist, and ensure to have good music playing in the background. We are in a hip-hop phase at the moment so we are usually bouncing Jay-z styles before we hit the stage.
LNaP: Have you managed to catch any good shows while you’ve been touring?
AB: A few nights ago we went to a local bar and it was a dennis wilson tribute night. Imagine the hoey except the performers were the magic numbers, ed harcourt, the dude from starsailor and a few others. Basically a “Heavenly records” evening for free. It was the best free show I’ve ever attended.
LNaP: Who in the band is the hardest to put up with in close quarters and how do you deal with it?
AB: We all have our virtues and our vices. When you are living out of each other’s pockets you learn how to be patient and considerate – Or just do the complete opposite and all be divas. Always good to be extreme!
LNaP: Sparkadia has played with artists such as, Hot Hot Heat, Modest Mouse, The Thrills, Vampire Weekend, Jimmy Eat World, Death Cab for Cutie, Ben Lee, The Bravery and Tegan & Sara – in an ideal world, who would you love to open for, and who would you love to have open for you?
AB: We would love to open for the Beatles and then have Roy Orbison as a support.
LNaP: Sparkadia’s sensational and highly fortuitous rise to stardom evolved from somewhat of a chance encounter. What advice would you give to new bands trying to make it big?
AB: Don’t follow trends as your hair doesn’t grow as quick as the new haircut required. Make sure to write music that you are passionate about.
LNaP: You plan to tour Australia throughout August and September when you finish up overseas, will you have any new material written to try out on us?
AB: I believe so. We have many new tunes so expect some madness!
LNaP: If I was to tell you that I’ve been to the future and that Sparkadia’s Postcards wins the Breakthrough Artist–Album, how would you feel?
AB: That would be very flattering. I don’t believe in the whole music awards systems as all music has a purpose-it’s not like sport where there is always a winner and a loser!
LNaP: And finally, who would win in a fight between Mr T and Chuck Norris and why?
AB: Chuck Norris. You wouldn’t know why as you would be dead too!
Sparkadia return to Australia in September to tour the country extensively. Until then they are spreading their sweet melodic rock around Europe. If you can make it overseas, you can catch them here:
If not – you will have to wait before you see them play down under at a show near you!
Lots More Cowbell!