horns of dilemma


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interview:  John Sparrow
by Carlos Nemo

John Sparrow
Visit John Sparrow at: John Sparrow

Q: You're a young cat. Were you aware of VF before you started playing with them? What's the history?

A: I am 30 years old. I always thought that was old when I was younger so I’ll take that compliment.  I became aware of Violent Femmes in the early 90’s through a friend of mine.  He was trying to help me listen to more new Rock. I started playing Jazz first, so a guy playing rock with brushes made sense to me.  I had already been playing brushes so Victor wasn’t responsible for me playing with brushes, but he helped
keep my interest more than Nine Inch Nails did. I would play the first CD from start to finish, note for note.  Then I saw them live with and without Victor
throughout the years.  Years later I recorded with Victor at his studio with him producing.  As our circle of friends grew, word got around that Brian was
moving  back to Milwaukee and was looking for people to play with, the rest is history so to speak. 

Q: Why are you playing cajon with them?

A: Brian introduced the cajon to me and mentored me into the job I hold today.   Also, I am here cause Brian hired me, and for that I am grateful. I think
playing with Brian in the Shakuhachi club allowed him to see that I come from the same place musically as the rest of the band does.  I was a big fan of Brian’s bass playing, I always could relate to the playing style he has (rhythmic and aggressive).  Its also my feeling that Gordon’s rhythm guitar playing is so fun to play with cause of its steady unshakeable nature.
So when he wanted to bolster the rhythm section it made sense to include me.  I am also a little younger, so I would be able to move gear and not treat the
opportunity as some kinda Club Med.

Q: How do you think your playing has changed their sound?

A: I would like to say I have changed their sound, but their sound was there way before I was around and will be there after. I think my playing has filled the bass drum void though, and my being with the band has helped to keep it fresh musically for the three main members.

Q: What's it like being on the road with the Femmes?

A: Before I joined the Femmes, I had done short tours in a van and even in a VolksWagen Golf.  We called it the “Dog Hair Tour”, sleeping on floors, couches, or just the van.  So going from that to being flown all over the world and staying in quality hotels has been great.  The crowds are incredible so I haven’t had to worry about the turn out, thanks to the hard work of Gordon, Brian, Guy, and Victor throughout the years.

Q: How have the fans responded to your presence in the lineup?

A: The fans have been very warm and responsive.  I have been treated just like one of the original members by signing autographs, taking pictures, and shaking hands.  During my solo the applause has been incredible and supportive.

Q: How much longer do you think the Femmes can continue to win new fans?

A: As long as the Femmes continue to tour and/or release recordings, they are putting themselves out there for new people to discover them.  With the Femmes touring, somebody new will always be there based on the recommendation of a friend or because they have started their “Rite of Passage”. The Femmes music is timeless and fits into no cohesive scene, which will keep them relative and original forever.~



Visit John Sparrow at: John Sparrow