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Sparrow Thieves: Golden Age of the Gas Station

Last week Elsewhere was pleased to introduce, Lethargic Caffeine, the debut album by Southland's Sparrow Thieves noting gthat it betrayed a maturity of songwriting and an economy of pop-rock into power-pop style.

It seemed natural therefore to flick Nick McGrath the band's main songwriter our specially framed songwriter's questionnaire.

And needless to say his comments as as interesting as Sparrow Thieves' album. 

The first song which really affected you was . . .

Probably Kings of Leon – Trani. Opened my eyes to what music could be. Still a favourite.

Your first (possibly embarrassing) role models in music were . . .

As a young lad I used to play a VHS of Michael Jackson's 1992 concert in Bucharest on repeat (my old man managed to record it off the telly for me, more impressive than it sounds).

The one songwriter you will always listen to, even if they disappointed you previously, is?

Isaac Brock. Modest Mouse have their fair share of tracks that don't do it for me, but when they get it right it's everything I love about music in one hit.

As songwriters: Lennon-McCartney or Jagger-Richards; kd lang or Katy Perry; Madonna or Michael Jackson; Johnny Cash or Kris Kristofferson?

Lennon-McCartney; ah.. couldn't honestly say; Jackson; Cash

The three songs (yours, or by others) you would love everyone to hear because they are well crafted are . . .

Modest Mouse – Bukowski

Tool – Lateralus

MGMT – Of Moons, Birds, and Monsters

Melody first? Words or phrase first? Simultaneous?

Usually simultaneous, but then I tinker with the words for a while. I have to battle the over-rationalising part of my brain.

The best book on music or musicians you have read is . . .

I enjoyed the Modest Mouse biography that Alan Goldsher wrote, 'A Pretty Good Read.'

If you could co-write with anyone it would be . . .

Right now, Annie Clark. I was late to the party on the St Vincent front, but I'm hooked. I don't imagine I'd contribute much.

The last CD or vinyl album you bought was . . . (And your most recent downloads include . . .)'

Vinyl was Left or Right – Buzzy.

Download was Pogo – Wonderland EP.

One song, royalties for life, never have to work again. The song by anyone, yourself included, which wouldn't embarrass you would be . . .

'Pink Elephants on Parade' from Dumbo

One line (or couplet) from a song -- yours or someone else's -- which you think is just a stone cold winner is . . .

Pop culture status means it's easily overlooked, but I think Seven Nation Army has some great lines:
“And I'm talkin' to myself at night because I can't forget
Back and forth through my mind behind a cigarette”

sparrowSongwriting: what's the ratio of inspiration/perspiration?

40/60 on a good day.

Ever had a song come to you fully-formed like it dropped into your lap?

Our album opener, Golden Age of the Gas Station. Beamed from outer space.

And finally, finish this couplet in any way you like: “Standing at the airport with an empty suitcase at my feet . . .” (You are NOT allowed to rhyme that with “meet” however)

“silhouette of wasted life, so quiet in defeat” (opportune self-plagiarism, Golden Age.)

For more on the Sparrow Thieves and to check out their album see their website here


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