SPARROWS proved to be an exciting entity. So much that I had to interview them. Read on to find out a bit more about this Texan band. Anders Ekdahl ©2013
I know absolutely nothing about Sparrows. Can you enlighten me?
-Sparrows is a 4 piece black/death metal band from Dallas, Texas. We have been together since 2010 and have released a few EPs and a full length. We just released our new record Mark of the Beast:Indoctrination on Halloween of 2012. We play a more black metal influenced style, but aren’t afraid to put anything in our music.
What would you say is the biggest difference between USBM and Scandinavian? Is there a difference?
-There are pretty big differences. In the United States, black metal isn’t under the same scrutiny that Scandinavian black metal is. You look at a band like Nachtmystium, a band that I love, and they put out like 2 records that blended black metal with different things from synth rock to psychedelia. Some songs almost had a Pink Floyd vibe to them. I love all the stuff they did. We almost get a pass because we are Americans haha. Look at Wolves in the Throne Room. Very atmospheric, sometimes with operatic female vocals. Not what you would call true black metal. The Scandinavians have black metal on lock. We know that. They are VERY good at what they do. A TON of my influences are Swedish and Norwegian bands. We like to incorporate Scandinavian styles into our sound, but our sound is and always will be, a melting pot of our favorite things in metal, and music for that matter. USBM isn’t under the same scrutiny as Scandinavian black metal. It probably seems weird to somone in Norway that I am in a band in Dallas that loves black metal. When I see someone from Norway that likes Pantera, I kind of feel the same way. “What do you know about Pantera?? You are from Norway!” You know? I feel like USBM gets a pass to really explore the genre and put our spin on it.
I also don’t know really many people who are really into black metal. I have met a few lately through the band, but in Dallas, this is a VERY underground genre. Especially locally.
What is it that you want to say with the band? Do you have grander purpose with the band?
-We want to say whatever it is at the time we want to say. Does that make sense? haha. A lot of what we say is based on the downfall of Christianity. Our latest album is about the mind control that goes on with the Church. Just really infiltrating the mind and enslaving people to the binds of indoctrination. The next record will be a little more political. Not like Rage Against the Machine political, but the dangers of a church state. We find a great deal of inspiration from the tyranny of Christianity. Some people ask me, “Why Christianity? Why not all religion?” My answer is simple. Where I come from, Christianity is very entrenched in people’s minds and they are afraid to think outside the box. I have never dealt with any other religions that struck me as hard as Christianity. Being from Texas, this makes sense. Our references to Satan are also important. We see Satan as freedom. He is the rule breaker. We don’t worship him in that sense. To us, Satan would never want us to worship him. He isn’t a jealous child like the Christian god, always clamoring for attention. Satan represents opposition to CHrist. The adversary.
How important is a band?s name? What kind of symbolism is there to your band’s name?
Definitely. There are a few reasons we like that name. In some cultures, if a sparrow flies into your house, it is an omen that someone wil die. They are almost a harbinger of death in some cultures. There are biblical references, too. Also, making a tiny bird synonymous with the devil is pretty awesome. I’m not sure there is too much in a name. Obviously, you have to name a band something to set it apart, but it all comes down to music. You want the band name to trigger something in the listener, but if your music isn’t any good, an awesoem name won’t save it.
I find it paradoxical that some black metal bands play live while style claiming to hate mankind and portray themselves as misanthropic. What role does playing live play in the life of Sparrows?
-We play live. It’s always been part of our plan. We enjoy performing our music for people, and they enjoy hearing it. We are all a bit misanthropic, and our lyrics express that to a certain extent, but at a show, I am with my people. These are people I have a lot in common with. These are not the people that I hate. The people I hate would never understand our live show, or any metal band’s live show.
A live show is almost like a mass ritual. We can express ourselves and rail against our enemies, together. Just as on Sunday, the sheep gather at the church to hear the evils of the Devil, we gather on Saturday nights to express our disgust with god.
How do you promote a band the best way? Is playing live a part of that?
-Not necessarily. Some bands that I love don’t play live in America, or at all. However, I think that seeing a band you like perform can be a life changing experience. The first time I saw Watain I was absolutely blown away. I became a superfan. I felt something about the music that I didn’t feel just listening to the cd. To see the songs come alive, to hear the vocalist put a different spin on the lyrics, or emphasis on the words, to hear the drummer explore a passage a certain way, to see how a guitarist approaches a difficult riff. These are all things that you can’t get anywhere but a stage. I saw Behemoth live for the first time last year. Mind blowing. They didn’t do anything crazy. They just played their songs. But this is what sets metal apart. Just the performance of the songs is enough of a show. Just the passion that comes out of the songs themselves is enough to impress.
How important is the interaction with the listeners to Sparrows? Do you feel like you are a part of something?
-That’s an interesting question. I feel that our music says enough about what we are and who we are that people understand us personally from listening to it. I don’t know if I would say we are part of something that will change lives at this point, though. I think people enjoy our music and that is great. We haven’t quite hit our stride yet, but we will soon. Every record we have done seems to go by easier and be better than the last. The number of listeners has grown with each release. We put out a demo, so to speak, called the Lightmass EP in 2010. That was our first release.
We had a small group of people that listened and came to shows. Then the Abandon The Cross EP which was the first to really start exploring Satanic lyrics and black metal elements in the music. The group of listeners started to grow a bit. Then we released Rivals of Christ which was a collection of songs from the first 2 EPs and 4 new songs. That’s when we could notice that we were moving forward. Now our new album Mark of the Beast: Indoctrination is actually the first album we have charged money for. People have been buying it, and we are getting some good media exposure, so the group of listeners is bigger thaen ever.
How important is it to release albums on a label these days? How much can you do the same thing and not lose out on it?
-I think with the internet and all, the opportunity to get your music to the world is at everyone’s fingertips. You can record, mix, master, upload, and sell your music from the same computer. Hell, I could record a song, mix it, master it, and sell it online all in the same day. However, this is all so time consuming and when your project starts to get bigger and bigger, it is very difficult to manage all of these different things. I feel that the more business I have to do for Sparrows, the more I just want to play drums. So a label is still important. We released the new record on Vile Amusement Records. It’s a tiny label that is run by our friend, but we still do a ton of the work for it. We are working on expanding Vile Amusement and making it a legit label. But Sparrows is the main focus for all of us right now.
What kind of sound do you look for when you record? Do you have a pre-planned agenda whne you enter a studio?
-Since I do all the recording, mixing and mastering, the sound I find myself going for on our recordings is the sound of the band from behind my drumkit. I can hear everyone very clearly, and that is where the band sounds the best. We set the room up so everything is pointed to the corner where I’m at. When I’m in front of the computer mixing our records, I am going for that sound. Of course, the mix is meant to sound a little more larger than life than just the sound of us jamming, but I have that in my head while I’m working on the record. As I progress as a producer, I feel I have a little more control over where I take the mix. When I first started, I felt like the mix was controlling me. I was a slave to Pro Tools and was just hoping that my mix would come out well haha. Now I can dictate where the mix goes. On the new record, there are some parts where the guitar tone turns very lo fi. This tone was influenced by Darkthrone and Burzum records. Adding that to the usually thick mix made things pretty interesting. We will definitely be exploring that on the other instruments as well. Mixing different tones with the main tones.
What would the future look like in an ideal world?
-I would like to see the planet get completely eradicated by nuclear missiles. Maybe we will survive. Maybe we won’t.