Sparrow and The Workshop (Glasgow, UK)

The transatlantic trio showcase their unique form of Folk-Noir on their debut album, 'Crystals Fall'.

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Sparrow and The Workshop are a three-piece modern folk band whose sound binds their Celtic and American roots together to gorgeous effect. Their eerie take on country pushes a suppressed anger to breaking point, only for it to curl up and breathe softly again. If Cat Power ever drank whiskey with The Beach Boys and made a pissed-off folk record, Sparrow and The Workshop's debut 'Crystals Fall' would sound a lot like its final outcome. The subtle majesty of Jills vocals melts into the more post-rock elements of the record, whilst the galloping drums give pace to the harmonies that seep into memory and linger on the tongue. With support slots with Idlewild and The Brian Jonestown Massacre across the UK and Europe in April and May respectively, and the release of their debut album on Distiller Records on April 19th, good things are abound for the trio.

Dazed Digital: Describe your sound.
Sparrow and The Workshop: We've been described as a lot of things, and I think Jill has been compared to every single woman who has ever sung a note at some point or another. Probably the coolest thing we've been called is Folk-Noir, or Folk-Plus. But then I would never think of us as folk, there are some proper Black Sabbath moments on the record. We like emotional songs with embittered lyrics, I guess, but we never set out to create a 'sound' as such, it wasn't even talked about, we just wrote some songs, played our instruments in a room, played them to some people, and it grew from there.

DD: How did you meet?
Sparrow and The Workshop: Myself (Nick) and Jill moved up from London to Glasgow cos we were sick of working like a dog and still having no money.  We wanted to do something with our lives other than work. We answered an advert for a flat and it was Gregor's flat; he had a drum-kit and  'the complete history of Double-Denim' for a wardrobe, it went from there...

DD: You'll never catch me....
Sparrow and The Workshop: doing a poo by the side of the motorway on tour.....

DD: Where does your name come from?  Surely there's a strange yet lovable story behind it.
Sparrow and The Workshop: The true story is actually a vicious account of murderous anger and betrayal by a young boy with a slingshot on a sweet sparrow sitting in a tree. Hence we began as Dead Sparrow. The Workshop part got harpooned in when Dead was wiped out by our friends, who suggested "dead" was a bit depressing. So we became Sparrow and the Workshop.

DD: Which Scottish acts are you personally raving about of late?
Sparrow and The Workshop: Twilight Sad are incredible - one of my favourite bands of all time and so unbelievably under-rated in the UK. Phantom Band, Withered Hand, Frightened Rabbit, Broken Records, Idlewild, Lord Cut-Glass, and Mitchell Museum are all awesome.

DD: My drink of choice is....
Sparrow and The Workshop: The BlackBeard - 1/3rd Dark Rum, 1/3rd Coke, 1/3rd Guinness (Guinness top). I've seen an entire bar of old men converted...

DD: As a band that comes Scotland via Chicago, do you feel that there's an inherently transatlantic feel to your sound?
Sparrow and The Workshop: Yeah, I guess so. Myself and Gregor have always been far more into music from the States than Europe, and Jill has a Celtic connection because she was born in Ireland and her parents come from there originally.  So she grew up listening to a lot of traditional Irish and Scottish music.

DD: Taylor Swift – the new face of country or a guitar-wielding Disney drone?
Sparrow and The Workshop: I think Dolly Parton still holds the title of  'the new face of country' - she renews it every year.  Compared to Dolly, Taylor Swift doesn't come close. Dolly Parton is incredible.

DD: What can we expect from Sparrow and The Workshop in 2010?
Sparrow and The Workshop: Well, we're releasing our debut album, going on tour around Europe with Brian Jonestown Massacre and around the UK with Idlewild, playing a few summer festivals, and really trying to finally win gold at the Stone Skimming Championships.  Apart from that, the future is anyone's guess.
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