Getttin’ down with the Hot Sprockets
The Hot Sprockets sound like a band born in the wrong era. Though hailing from Dublin, thumb they sound as though they were reared by the Mississippi. Their soulful sound, a deft mix of the Allman Brothers and early 70s Stones, would be totally unique to Ireland, had it not been co-opted by The Strypes, and their album Brother Nature was one of last years finest. We recently sat down the guitarist Tim Cullen, vocalist Wayne Soper and mandolin player Frankie Kelly
So you had an album out last year that did quite well and you’ve been touring quite a bit behind that. What does the future hold for the Hot Sprockets?
T: Just more touring really, but outside of Ireland, thats our main focus. We’re getting over the Spain in two weeks, doing a bit of a Basque country tour. Then in May We’re heading to France and Germany.
Is that you’re first time getting over to Europe?
T: It’d be our first time without going to a festival. We played Fusion Festival in Germany last year, which was crazy. Last year we got to the States and Canada. We have a few dates in England.
What was playing in the States like?
T: Its something you joke about when you start out, sort of a pipe dream. When you’re actually over there its a bit of a dream come true-
F: Hello Cleveland!
T: Same with Canada, its a dream. Next dream is Tokyo I guess. Maybe Siberia.
Would it be a primarily Irish Audience that goes to see you outside of Ireland?
T: Yeah, it would be, people here telling their friends. In Chicago there was a lot of Irish but Kansas city was mostly American, like 10,000 people. That was really surreal.
We hear so much about diminishing album sales now, is that something thats affected you?
T: We arrived in the game when album sales where going down, so we didn’t notice to much.
F: That only really hits big bands, huge signed bands. With independant bands people like to support them.
W: Making records would really just be an excuse to tour. Most of our income is live shows and merch and things like that.
Is remaining independent something you want to do?
T: We’re proud of how far we’ve gotten and we’ve managed to create a lot of our own dreams so far. We set up our own labels and done two albums and two EPs, but there is a lot of cost. However there isn’t any middle man screwing us over, so thats nice. If any label was willing to help us we’d take it though. Doing it on your own, it takes a while to build up the money.
F: The main goal is to just always be putting music out.
Sound and Image wise, the band seems to embrace the early 70s. Was that a conscious decision?
F: I think if you like a certain style of music you’ll be into the culture as well.
W: Yeah, be it mods or goths or whatever.
F: Yeah, its just the music and clothes we like. We like the 60s, we like the style the music. It just influences what we do.
W: I’ve been wearing it so long now to be honest it’s just clothes to me now.
F: I like wearing over the top clothes, things that are funny to look at.
A lot of bands now tend to dress down, would that be something you don’t like?
W: That might just be a label thing to be honest, you know trying to appeal to as many people as possible. We like that freedom to wear what we want. We might wear pyjamas or something on stage someday.
Was it a love of that late sixties sound that brought you together initially?
T: It was a mix of a few things. I’m very into acoustic blues, so I was jamming around that, with the bare bones of songs and gradually they got electric.
W: I was mad into punk, things like the Ramones and Sonic Youth, thats my background and Tim would be more into blues and Joe our bass player is big into hip hop. I suppose blues would be our real common ground, anything groovy.
T: We love anything really. All sorts of wacky stuff.
F: If one of us gets into something, we all tend to get interested into it.
T: Something you might not have liked at first, you might try it again if the others like it. I didn’t like Radiohead for a while but people have shown me certain things, same with Deep Purple and a few others.
Would you try and take influence from everything you hear?
T: Anything we like really, you tend to be influenced by it.
F: We try and give it all a chance, no matter who it is.
W: For me, production has hit a really sweet spot. Making records now, its really easy to sound good. People are always trying to get a new sound, which is really interesting.
To follow up that, do you label yourselves as a particular genre or are you just the Hot Sprockets?
T: The genre thing is weird, its sort of something that somebody gives you.
W: We have rockin’ songs and we have folky songs and blues songs. We just play whatever we want and it falls into a load of genre. One song could have a load of genre.
F: Guitar muisc!
T: yeah, guitar, bass, drums and piano music.
We hear a lot of talk now about how guitar music is dead, or dying. Do you have a take on that?
W: Ah its just all phases really. It’s always going to be there. Some things might be popular in the charts now.
F: Whatever it is on MTV, thats what they used to say.
W: There’s so many scenes, every music is happening everywhere now. Royal Blood, you wouldn’t think that they’d be that big, but since Death from Above went away somebody had to fill that niche. Its all a bit of an evolution really.
T: Japan seem to cop onto stuff really early. I don’t know where they get it from, its a bit of a mad culture. Loads of Irish bands go there before they get to Europe.