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.”