Thursday, May 2, 2013

Sparks Will Fly In Our New Interview With California's Yellow Red Sparks

Sure, it's sleeting in Lawrence today (on May 2!?), but on Monday the temps will be climbing and the indie-folk trio Yellow Red Sparks will be coming all the way from California to sing you some warm and pretty songs at the Bottleneck!  Will you listen?

We caught up with Yellow Red Sparks frontman Josh Hanson to discuss the band's delightfully creepy new video, whether or not their "My Machine Gun" song is likely to ruffle feathers in America's gun-crazy climate, and Chip's undying crush on female stand-up bass players.   And yesterday (we just found out) Josh took top honors in the prestigious International Songwriting Competition award: read about it here.  Congrats, man!

Visit Yellow Red Sparks official website here and give them a "like" on FB over here.  Enjoy the interview, and we'll see you on Monday at the Bottleneck.   There's probably an opening band but we'll be damned if we can figure it out.   Best guess: Tyler Gregory!

Richard:  It just so happens that the video for your song “A Play to End All Plays” is out on the very day we're chatting!  Let me say two things about it.  (1) It’s gorgeous.  And (2) I’m afraid it will give me nightmares, since it’s creepier than most recent horror films!  Tell us a bit about what the song means to you and how you feel about the video that Claire Marie Vogel made for it.

Josh:  Thank you! I'm glad it gave you the creepy vibes. The song deals with a relationship unfolding and ending in some sort of public display, which so often happens through circles of friends and family. I thought the idea of a "play" type setting was a cool way to encapsulate the idea. Claire took the song and vision to a whole new level and, in the end, I think I had a better understanding of what I was trying to convey. She brought everything to life!

Chip:  I’m really liking your album but I must admit that I’m worried about the song titled “My Machine Gun.”  In our current climate of constant screaming about gun control, don’t you think you should probably change the title and lyrics to something like “My Fluffy Kitten?"  Also, what the hell is that song about anyway?

Josh:  Haha. Well, the song was written long before I ever considered any sort of political ramifications. I think it's sort of silly to think a song like "My Machine Gun" would set off some sort of tragic event or inspire any sort of controversy, but you are funny, Chip.  [Chip:  "Thank you!"].  I honestly don't think any songs are capable of doing that in and of themselves. People need to take responsibility for their own actions and stop blaming anything and everything except themselves. The "machine gun" reference is strictly figurative and has more to do with spitting negativity and hurtful words out of our mouths than any sort of violence. I could also write a song about a fluffy kitten, but if fluffy kittens were suddenly an endangered species and being targeted for the slaughterhouse, then the song would be under the same sort of scrutiny. 

Richard:  The descriptions of your sound, from your own bio and elsewhere, tend toward cinematic and literary and art terminology as much as musical reference points.   Can you list us a few non-musical inspirations for your work, ideally ones that are fairly esoteric (to please the snobby scenester crowd). 

Josh:  Well, I don't know if I could ever please the snobby/scenester crowds, but I also don't really care for them. Haha. I don't know. I love many of the works by C.S. Lewis and I feel like he had a deep understanding for a lot of things I have grappled with. I love James Joyce and a lot of poetry like John Keats and William Blake. Are any of these hitting the mark?

Chip:  I can’t lie.  I totally have a crush on almost every woman who plays the upright bass, so I will probably stammer around a lot if I try to talk to Sarah Lynn Nishikawa after the show.  Can you offer me any tips on how to make small talk with her.  Also, does she like PBR?  

Josh:  Oh man! Haha. Well, I'm pretty sure she is taken, but I would start off talking to her about baking brownies and cake pops. Then I would ease into some neuroscience. I think she is more of a whiskey girl, but I'll take the PBR! :)

Richard:  Leave us with a few sentences to convince our lazy readers that they absolutely MUST come to the Bottleneck for a Monday show.

Josh:  Hmmm. I would hope that you would come out on a Monday night because we will be driving a great distance to see you and it would be quite rude of you to stay on the couch at home and stand us up. We also have an Asian woman who plays upright bass and I heard that the venue will be giving free beer for the entirety of our set.

This was fun. Thanks guys!


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