09 October 2010
Sparkwood&21 made their recent well-received debut at Hell’s Ditch, Liverpool’s very own monthly Americana, alt.country night. Americana UK’s editorial team were at the gig, and took the opportunity to set up an interview with one of the newest bands on the scene. Barry Jones put the questions to singer/guitarist Dave Williams. Interview date: 8th Feb 2005
Dave, who are Sparkwood&21? I can’t think of any bands with an ampersand in their title; where does the name come from? Who are your principle influences? You went down well at Hell’s Ditch in Liverpool recently, how was the gig for you? What are your plans? The new EP, Shine, how can people get hold of a copy? Where and how do you record? What have you been listening to recently? Any recommendations?
We’re a four-piece band from Liverpool comprising me Dave Williams – Vocals, Guitar, Harmonica, John Daglish – Mandolin, Guitar, Vocals, Matt Bebb – Bass Guitar, Guitar
Ste Silker – Drums. We’ve been friends for years and had all been in bands before, some of us in the same ones, but all found ourselves ‘out of music’ at the same time. About 18 months ago, myself and Matt made a promise to get together to play, just for a bit of fun really. By the time we did meet up, sitting round Matt’s kitchen table one summer evening John appeared unannounced, guitar in hand!
(John Daglish- At first it seemed like there were too many guitar players, so I picked up the Mandolin and the sound developed from there.)
The next few months were a really exciting time, gathering round Matt’s kitchen table every week over a few drinks, discovering who we were musically, who we were as friends, who we were as a band. Writing songs together was very natural and immediate, and it wasn’t long before we thought, we might be onto something here. Although at that point it was a very stripped down acoustic sound, we realised we needed a drummer to develop further and Ste was the natural choice. Since he joined last year, we’ve taken time to hone and refine our sound, writing and recording a wealth of original material.
Yeah that’s probably true. It wasn’t a conscious decision, we just felt that it looked better than ‘and’! It actually comes from the David Lynch TV series Twin Peaks – it’s the junction where Laura Palmer was last seen alive.
The tough question! The Band are a major influence, but there’s also a host of others; The Smiths, Gram Parsons, Jeff Buckley, Randy Newman, Leonard Cohen, CSN&Y, Tom Waits, Gillian Welch, Neil Young, Whiskeytown – they’re all in there somewhere, even if it’s not immediately apparent in the music.
It was great; especially considering it was our first gig! We’d played a few songs to friends and family before, but you never know how people will react on seeing or hearing a band for the first time. To get the really positive response and turnout we did was really pleasing and hopefully bodes well for the future. A special mention should go to Chris and the lads who organise Hell’s Ditch – it’s a night that’s going from strength to strength.
Well we’re in the process of organising gigs in Liverpool and further afield for the next few months and basically we just want to get ourselves and the CD out there, get ourselves known and see what people think. Hopefully people will pick up on it. We were described recently as ‘Liverpool’s best kept secret’ – it’d be nice to be Liverpool’s most sought after secret!’ We recorded about eight or nine songs recently, four of which are on the Shine E.P., so we may re-mix a couple of the ones we didn’t use and probably put them out as MP3’s on the website. We’ve been writing quite a lot of new material recently as well, some of which we’re going to record next month. Beyond that, hopefully just keep attracting interest and building on what we’ve got - anyone who’s interested in supporting the band in any way, shape or form (financially or not), get in touch!
The Shine EP will be available at all our gigs or you can contact us on 07720528796 or email sparkwoodand21 at merseymail.com to mail order a copy. We’ve also just set up a website (www.sparkwoodand21.co.uk) which has MP3’s of the songs from the E.P. as well as information on forthcoming gigs, general information about the band, images etc. We’re hoping to add a bunch of other stuff on there as well over the next couple of months, so keep an eye out.’
The EP itself was recorded in various locations in Liverpool, over the course of about two months. We basically invested in our own mobile recording equipment, nothing state of the art, but quietly effective, so we were able to record pretty much anywhere - from our rehearsal studio to our own houses and flats. It’s all kind of lo-fi, but we think it works, and without getting all Lee Mavers here, it sort of suits the material!
‘Nashville’ by Josh Rouse is excellent, and ‘Trouble’ by Ray Lamontagne is a bit of a grower, as well as ‘Oxygen’ by Willy Mason. Other than that the recent Nick Cave and Tom Waits albums haven’t disappointed and ‘The First Album‘ by Liverpool band Ella Guru has been a constant turntable favourite since it came out – great live band too
Dave, who are Sparkwood&21?
I can’t think of any bands with an ampersand in their title; where does the name come from?
Who are your principle influences?
You went down well at Hell’s Ditch in Liverpool recently, how was the gig for you?
What are your plans?
The new EP, Shine, how can people get hold of a copy?
Where and how do you record?
What have you been listening to recently? Any recommendations?