Steve Sparrow of Morning Parade

HV: Well, let’s get started Steve. You guys just came from South By Southwest; how was it? 
Steve: It was amazing! Everything I could have hoped for for me. Everybody’s told me so much about it before we went and it kind of takes you back to your grass roots of being in a band. Running around the town, jumping on the stage, no sound check, not knowing who you’re going to play to. It was amazing. The week started off for us, the first night was a little bit quiet, by the end of it there were people were coming to see us – someone would say “I’ve seen you guys three times in the last two days!” so that was really cool. 

HV: And now here you are for your first show in Los Angeles. Is it your first time in LA? 
Steve: First time in LA…

HV: How’s it treating you? 
Steve: So far, so good. We’re staying on Santa Monica Blvd, I think in the gay district, which is really cool. We’ve been around to the bars today, we got a few funny looks…

HV: You’re in Boys’ town. 
Steve: Yeah, that’s it, we’re in Boys’ Town! We went in, met a few of the locals today and it was quite cool. Everyone was very nice. 

HV: How long are you here? 
Steve: Just until tomorrow night then we fly back to London. We’re headed to Germany on Monday to start the European tour. Got a day off tomorrow so hopefully we’re gonna hit the beach. I mean, have you seen the color of my skin? Look how pale I am! That’s my Irish genes. 

HV: Now your self-titled debut album, it’s out in Europe but it’s not out here yet; it comes out June 19th. You’ve received a lot of heavy press from BBC, Radio 1, Zane Lowe, etc., but it’s your first time here, so what do you need to do to tackle the US? 
Steve: It’s such a big country and it works so differently here than in the UK and I’m kind of grateful for that, as well. I think there’s a lot more diversity here in music, I think there’s more room for things. I think people here seem to seek out what they want. We’ve had people who’ve turned out to our show that ordered our album from the UK here. It’s crazy. But I don’t want to try and second-guess what we need to do in the US. I think, honestly, the media has a lot to play with it, but you have to work hard out here, you have to tour a lot, and the approach to things is different out here. A lot different. 

HV: Can you point out one of those differences? 
Steve: I think in the UK it’s about going out on the party scene, getting in the tabloids, and falling out of the clubs with other people in bands. And we like to party as much as anybody else, but I just don’t really like getting into that scene. I think it kind of devalues what you do as an artist. I think you have to be a better musician here, a better artist here. Your pop stars here are real pop stars, I mean they can sing, they can wrote their own songs. You can’t fuck over America, you can’t bullshit America. You’ve got to be good. Even your pop idols, your Kelly Clarkson, I mean they’re good, they know what they’re doing. 

HV: We appreciate your high opinion of us! Now Morning Parade is one of the new hot UK bands and you’re now signed to EMI, how are you dealing with the new expectations? 
Steve: I think your expectations change when you work with people, and when you sign a major record deal people blow smoke up your ass, a lot of it. And the press likes to jump on the bandwagon. At the time we were really kind of fragile, we were new, we were young; our band was 20 gigs old. After the initial “BOOM!” of signing a record deal and “Oh my God you’re in Damon Albarn’s (Blur/Gorillaz) studio!”, you just have to really realize why you’re making music. It’s so easy to get caught up in all of the bullshit, and at the end of making the record we realized that we made a record to be proud of. And that’s the most important thing. 

HV: If you had to describe it, what is the Morning Parade sound? 
Steve: That’s a really tough question. It comes from a lot of different places. The heart of it is a real traditional approach to songwriting, a real kind of gutsy melody / lyric and a strong sentiment behind the song. Something that actually means something, coming from a real place. I work with four people who have very, very different tastes and everybody chucks in every kind of flavor to it and it ends up being all over the place. We like to show off the parts and the arrangements. There’s a mixture of electronic stuff in there and we’re all into dance music and electronic stuff and almost there was a problem because we had to decide which way we wanted to go because you can’t be both. It doesn’t actually really work. We try to fuse it together with our favorite sounds and favorite textures. 

HV: Yeah, because you’re an indie-rock band but you do incorporate a little bit of synth to give it that good, old-fashioned 90s feel. 
Steve: I grew up in the 90s. I’m 25. 

HV: Wow, you’re still a youngin’. About how many shows have you guys played stateside? 
Steve: Let me see; New York, New Haven, Providence, Portland, San Francisco, Grants Pass, six shows at SXSW… 11, 12 shows? We really try to come in and get as much done as we can while we’re here but I think we’ll be back pretty soon. 

HV: Probably later in the year when the album comes out? 
Steve: Yeah probably around the album, but maybe even sooner. Because you know these decisions aren’t really made by the band, are they? (laughs) Managers and labels talk about “Hey man, the press is doing this and the radio’s doing that so we should come out and play!” But as long as I keep playing gigs and traveling and meeting lots of people and having fun it’s all good. 

HV: Final thoughts that you want to leave us with as far as what you want to contribute to the world of music? 
Steve: Wow, that’s kind of a profound question. I think I need a week to write a dissertation on that! I just hope to bring some sort of joy to peoples’ lives. If they can listen to the songs and it makes them feel better, that’s fine. I’ve got a million songs I can cry to. But I’m not afraid of the down side, either. I think some of the most uplifting records in the world come from Thom Yorke whining and crying or Motion Picture Soundtrack. I think there are some of the most uplifting songs. People say they want to cut their wrists to it, but I’m like someone fucking finally understands me! 

HV: Thank you so much, Steve. Was this painful? Painless? 
Steve: This was absolutely painless. One of the easiest ones I’ve had. You didn’t even ask me about my difficult childhood or my time in prison!