Tin Sparrow is a four piece band from Sydney making happy folk for happy folk. They have released two EPs so far and are currently working on some new songs. Wait? Was the band name “Tin Sparrow”? Well, you better read our interview and discover the story behind the unusual band name as we talk about their name, their songs, influences, and what they’ve been up to lately.
AMBY: Hello Tin Sparrow, what’s the band been up to lately?
Tin Sparrow: Hey Alicia! Hey Toronto! We’ve been doing a lot of writing and preparation for more recording in the near future. Hanging out, jamming, working on our sound, eating sandwiches.
AMBY: How would you describe your sound to those unfamiliar with your music?
Tin Sparrow: We say it’s happy folk for happy folk, but there’s definitely more complexity to it than that. We blend elements of folk with pop, rock and even spaghetti western styles with lots of vocal harmonies and sing-a-long riffs, but it’s actually not all happy.
AMBY: Where did the name Tin Sparrow come from?
Tin Sparrow: It was one of those things where we were throwing around words that evoked a certain aesthetic that matched our music. I think we wanted that outback visual of a rusty corrugated tin shed in there somehow, very Aussie… We had a few temporary silly names before settling on Tin Sparrow, it took a while to find it and friends said they liked it and it fitted, so it stayed.
AMBY: The Beast is a great song! What’s the story behind it?
Tin Sparrow: Thanks. The song is a real anomaly in our repertoire, really unlike the style of anything else we’ve produced. Much dirtier and harsher in its tone but still very poppy and 1960s actually, with all the chorus “Ooohs”. It’s vaguely about having an idea or something or even someone on your mind and you can’t shake it, you can’t sleep and you can’t let it go until you go and pursue it. We produced it in Melbourne with Tom Iansek from a band called Big Scary and it was pretty fun; we always like getting to work with someone else who can bring fresh ears and fresh ideas to a track.
AMBY: Which Tin Sparrow lyric is your favourite?
Tin Sparrow: Pretty much all the verses from Hector Myola: “I remember our discussion / two beers and a black russian / and you told it me would loosen up my tongue / girl, I’ve known you too long”, and “And then we started fighting / in the hue of that moonlighting / and you cast your blame across my linen shirt / and as those stains soaked in I know that you hurt” But there’s some great, evocative stuff in some of the newer tracks which we haven’t released yet!
AMBY: Does hailing from Sydney have an influence on your music? And if so, how?
Tin Sparrow: I would say it must, but I don’t know exactly how… Some part of us wants our music to sound distinctly Australian; I know our lead singer Matt is particularly fond of Australian music from the 1980s and wants that to come across. It might come across in the language we use, too. As for Sydney, I guess you hear some of the sunshine come through as well as some of the complexity and stress of living in a big city! But the music is also an escape and so beachy, surfy guitars come through as well as dry, outback Western sounds. Australia is mostly desert and coastline after all!
AMBY: What’s next as far as recording goes?
Tin Sparrow: The new songs we’re writing and polishing up now are the ones that will hopefully feature on the next EP (our third), or perhaps even an album (our first) which will be recorded this year.
AMBY: If you could hang out with any of your influences for a day, who would you be with and what would you do?
Tin Sparrow: I can’t speak for the band cause we all have quite different taste (although most of the time we still ‘rate’ each other’s taste) and although this doesn’t come across much in Tin Sparrow’s music, I’d actually most like to hang out with and be inspired by Bjork or Jeff Buckley. Bit tricky when he’s deceased though… maybe I’d give him swimming lessons at the beach… too soon?
AMBY: Which bands or artists have you been listening to lately?
Tin Sparrow: Again, it’s so different for each band member, we can all agree on what sounds terrible, but not which artists we all like. Recently I have been enjoying Yukon Blonde, Bonobo, plenty of video game soundtracks, David Bowie and some TLC. So… I listen to almost any style, old, new and crazysexycool.
AMBY: What’s the best song of 2013?
Tin Sparrow: I don’t think I’ve heard it yet…
AMBY: And lastly, what’s something about Tin Sparrow that nobody knows yet?
Tin Sparrow: We are fiends for a session of trivia and we will probably beat you, unless you really know your sport, then we’re screwed…
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Katrin Kugler & Alicia Atout