The Hoosiers are an English-American pop rock band formed in Indianapolis, Indiana, in 2003 and relocated in Bracknell, Berkshire. The band consists of members Irwin Sparkes (lead vocals, lead guitar), Sam Swallow (keyboards, backing vocals), and Alphonso Sharland (drums, percussion).
Their first single "Worried About Ray" reached number 5 on the UK Singles Chart in July 2007. In October 2007, they released their debut album The Trick to Life, which reached number 1 in the album charts.
We heard that the band were heading to Exeter to play at The Terrace on May 18th so thought we'd get in touch with drummer Alphonso Sharland and have a chat, read on to see how we got on....
You draw upon many influences including The Cure, Jeff Buckley and The Flaming Lips, which band or artist was it that made you want to form a band in the first place?
For me it was my friends band ‘The Doyalogue’ – but this was born of pure envy. They had a drummer already, so no space for me… so I was desperate to join anyone, which is why I settled for joining up with Irwins group of misfits… who, if I remember correctly formed out of a love for Guns and Roses!!!
Do you have a tried and tested approach to songwriting? What comes first the lyrics or the melody?
I was always a chords man… once I had a structure id like id sing away until I found a melody to fit, words would probably come along at the end, or during the hunt for melody. As the years have gone on/inspirational chord sequences have dried up, I have tried a few other ways/orders. Most of the songs on the news from nowhere were Lyrics first.
Your debut album The Trick to Life reached the top spot in the album charts in 2007, I understand it was released with 4 different coloured covers, do you think this helped towards the success of the album?
Haha – maybe, sadly. I never saw any of the stats on how many people bought more than one copy – but I have heard a few fans tell me they have all four colours. Evil corporate Hoosiers.
You offered incentives to people who pre-ordered your 2014 album The News From Nowhere was this instead of using crowd funding which seems to be all the rage these days?
Yeah – it was a sort of crowd funding. But it felt a bit more involving. 3 fans paid to record BVs on Fidget Brain. It was fun.
I read that your original bass player Martin Skarendah left the band in "one of the most amicable decisions in music history", please would you expand on this?
Haha – we tried to keep it so. There’s no point in crying over spilled recording processes. Or indeed milk. Which, incidentally is why we fired him. He spilled Irwin’s strawberry mini milk.
Do you often meet fellow ‘Hoosiers’ here in the UK?
Not often – but when we do it is customary to induct them by whipping them with a fresh bunch of corn whilst singing the National Anthem of Indiana… which is a thrilling, and emotionally stirring affair.
You're playing in Exeter on May 18th at The Terrace Bar, I understand that this is going to be an acoustic show, apart from the acoustic element, does this showcase your music in a different light?
Sort of. It’s much harder when you don't have the big bass and drums to hide behind. Luckily, Irwin has the voice of an angel, and I have a cahon. I think the gig may happen to fall on the same night as Exeter Cities home leg of the league 2 playoffs! Im an Exeter fan – what are the odds. 9/1.
You're playing at Silverstone on July 15th with UK surf rockers REEF, what other shows/festivals do you have confirmed this year?
We are up and down the country quite a bit. Loads of fun gigs – haven’t enjoyed gigging as much for a long time. Keep an eye on our socials for more info on live shows and festival appearances.
Finally, you mention some BIG NEWS on your website, I think I know what it is…… are you ready to tell the world all about it yet?
We really aren’t allowed to mention the 10 year anniversary tour that we have, very nearly booked for October this year.....
Click HERE to purchase Tickets for this event.