The Hoosiers reveal the secrets behind ‘The Secret Service’

Photo Credit: Press

At their fans request The Hoosiers are back with a new album, entitled ‘The Secret Service’ and a jaunt of tour dates planned for October 2015. Just a year since their last album release ‘The News From Nowhere’ the band are taking writing and recording in their stride, having broken away from the confinement of a major label. We convinced frontman Irwin Sparkes to reveal just a few of the secrets behind their new record and their plans for the tour. 

Hey, how are you?

Good, good. I am okay; I am coming to. Thanks for asking.

After high demand from your fans you’ve decided to release another album, could you tell us a bit about that?

Yeah, I suppose you’ve got a few luxuries when you are signed to yourselves, as it were, but one of them is that we get to move at our own pace.

Something we certainly found when being signed to a major [label] is that – if everything goes well – you’re touring. It was 18 months really before we could get in the studio to follow up the second album. By which time you know – certainly in pop that’s like dog years, so it’s like 50 years – and people are kinda like starting to move on I guess. Whereas controlling that rate ourselves, especially with line-up changes as well, we’re more than ever very keen to have a stab at prolificacy.

The title of the album is ‘The Secret Service’, what’s the story behind the title?

Well, we found that there was some over-arching thread that helped tie the album together. We’ve never quite pulled off a concept album, but that’s something we’ve kinda got our eye on. In fact, you know how you get a lot of people saying “we’re writing it for a film that doesn’t exist”? We’ll we’re just picking our favourite film and doing it for a film that does exist.

This time we noticed that the first group of songs we were writing dealt with this idea of secrets, of keeping things from people, the truth people are sweeping under the carpet. Even in the titles and in the lyrics it was just staring us in the face and given the particular climate as well, it just seemed a very contemporary concern. What the secret service is up to you know? It just felt like it was very pressing.

As you said you are releasing it on your own label, how does it feel to not have the commercial pressure of a major label?

Well, that is one of the most freeing aspects; 100% creative control. Whereby previously – it was one of the first things we noticed with the pressure of that second album – is that it gets referred to as; rather than “is that song good?”, it is “is that song a hit”? And they’re not the always same thing and so it changed how we were approaching writing. I think it is a big reason why a lot of bands tend to burn out because you’re focusing on will other people like this song. And it’s that kinda second guessing that I don’t think is very healthy for writing and so doing away with that has been wonderfully freeing.

At the same time, there are certainly negatives. I wouldn’t want to shy away from that; it’s a lot more work for sure. You have a bigger piece of the pie, but the pie has got a hell of a lot smaller.

You’re set to take the album out on the road this November, what do you have planned for the shows?

Well, it’s funny the people you meet on the road. There was a show we did recently in Essex, and we were about to go on stage and we noticed some very interesting looking circus performers. I always like the idea of there being surprises in the set, even for each other, so I made a point of not telling the keyboardist [Sam Swallow] that I had invited all these jugglers and stilt walkers on stage for our last song. So it was quite a good moment, which we’ve got on camera somewhere. All these interestingly made up dark, macabre clowns stage invading. So there will be something along those lines for some of the shows.

We’re planning on doing some collaborations. We’re even looking at employing – for a few shows where we can afford them – a couple of our long time brass players. Getting them back involved. We want to bring what we’ve been recording alive!

Have you started rehearsals yet?

We want to keep rehearsals very fresh and probably won’t start until a week or two before the tour.

Which songs are you most looking forward to performing live?

Erm, that’s a good question. Probably ‘Pristine’, which is on an EP that we’ve already released. We had a very interesting approach – a new way of building up to this album – which was to just drop an EP. Just release it without warning. With a couple of tracks from the album and we did that twice, so that was fun. Probably that and I’m gonna say ‘Runs In The Family’.

Finally, what has been the highlight of your career so far?

Ooooh, well part of it I’d say is existing. The fact that we are still here and that people still come and see us. It is genuinely quite moving the fact that there is that loyalty. So I’d say that still being able to do a job you love; that’s brilliant and something we’re very grateful for.

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Simon Robinson

Founder and Music Journalist with a passion for live music.