Tommy Sparkes – Interview with Adrian Brown
Tommy Sparkes Interview 19th May 2009

If you haven’t heard of Tommy Sparkes yet, you soon will.  His chart single “She’s got me dancing,” was described by the BBC’s Fraser McAlpine as “Dirty, messy, squelchy and rude, it arrives via a synth-riff that Tommy has clearly bashed out with his fists, before suddenly taking a cockeyed swagger into clipped, Talking Heads-style funky pop via the Chili Peppers’ (amazing, by the way) ‘Rollercoaster Of Love’ “.  On his show with Stuart Maconie, Mark Radcliffe said “everyone should have this”

I caught up with Tommy in a telephone interview while he was on his way to Brighton for his support slot with Ladyhawke and, after several failed attempts for us to get through to each other, we finally both had a good enough signal for me to ask him about his split from his previous band and his subsequent Myspace message from a major record label…


TS: I was in a band called Vatican DC and basically we made a record and it all fell apart.  Band politics, label politics, management politics and stuff so I was just gonna do it myself and do whatever I want and I received a message from a major label within like a month and then I ended up with Island Records.  It was interesting and very positive.

MU: So how does your current music compare with Vatican DC
It was more punky and more bandy whereas this, I think it’s more about the songs and I think it’s more of a pop record, you know? I wanted to make a pop record ‘cause I was kind of bored of people trying to be edgy, you know I don’t even know what edgy is anymore, there’s just no way to be edgy anymore.  To me, that probably ended in 1977, that edginess.  You can’t emulate that time and I don’t want to repeat something that’s old and was awesome when it happened, you know? 

Your current music sounds very fresh and it’s something that isn’t elsewhere in the charts at the moment.  It’s good to hear really refreshing, well played, well written pop songs.
Well thank you ever so much, that’s very flattering.  I’m a big fan of pop music and I just wanted to make an album that wasn’t pretentious or complicated.  I just wanted to be really direct and positive, you know, without being cheesy. 


You supported the Prodigy with Vatican DC.  That must have been amazing?
Yeah, that was great.  The prodigy crowd is a good crowd ‘cause it’s a tough crowd, so to go out and win that crowd over?  It’s not easy, but when you do it, it’s very rewarding and they’re really warm and lovely to you so that was really good fun, and obviously meeting the Prodigy was an amazing experience.

You’re playing Glastonbury this year as well as several other festivals.  Do you prefer the festival atmosphere or are you more into the intimacy of the smaller venues?
I like both.  They’re obviously very different.  Small gigs can be really nice and wild and punky and fun but playing to a big crowd is something that I really enjoy, you know, I like getting everyone going.  It’s just two different feelings.  One doesn’t cancel out the other one.

You’re currently touring with Ladyhawke.  How’s that going, where has been your best gig and your best response?
We did a good show in London the other day.  We’ve pretty much only done good shows, ha ha, I know that sounds a little bit cocky.  I think we’ve done one show where I came off and I was like “that’s it, I’m giving up.”    More...


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