Sunday, April 21 2024

Welcome to an exclusive interview where we revisit the musical legacy of Sparks Fly From A Kiss, a band that once thrived in the vibrant music scene of New Brunswick, NJ. Though no longer together, their echoes linger on in the recently-released compilation album ‘Cornered and Shot.’ Offering a glimpse into a bygone era and drawing comparisons to Pixies and similar ilk bands of the time, Sparks Fly From A Kiss left an indelible mark on indie rock. Join us as we chat with Ralph and John, unraveling the musical journey of a band that once set sparks flying with every note.

Thanks for joining us guys. Looking back on your time together, what were some of the highlights?

Ralph: The friendship. Being brothers. 
John: I don’t know, that was so long ago, I barely remember. We stopped playing around 2006. Some shows were bigger than others. Road trips we took for mini-tours and festivals were fun. I have good memories of people inviting us to play house parties and gallery events where we would just jam for an hour or two, and also of the glass factory where we used to rehearse – just making music together.

The music industry has evolved significantly since your time together. How do you think Sparks Fly From A Kiss would navigate the current music landscape, and what advice would you give to emerging indie bands today?

Ralph: Adding more visuals to go along with the music. Nowadays we could record a record and create visuals to go along with every song. 
John: We probably would have recorded more and put out more records. Back then it was harder to put out your music without the support of a label. Everything was tangible, you needed physical copies of music, there were no streaming services. I would encourage emerging bands to record as much as they can and put out the kind of music they want to make. You really don’t need a label anymore; you can just self-release now. Everyone has the same access to distribution services. You can always spend a little extra if you want to press vinyl or run a PR campaign.

The compilation album features a diverse range of demos and outtakes. Can you share a memorable story or anecdote from the recording sessions that captures the essence of the band’s creative process during that era? And, do you have a particular favourite track?

Ralph: It was such a creative period for both of us. We worked together, played in a band together, hung out outside of the band. We were always “in it”.
John: It’s hard to pick a favorite, it would probably change based on my mood. The songs all sound different stylistically, but still have a common gel. Half of the songs were left over from the recordings from our first self-titled release. The other half were a batch of songs that we were working on while we were going through one of our many line-up changes. In fact, we didn’t have a drummer at the time, so Ralph played drums on those tracks. I always forget about that, probably because they sound so solid.

Opening for Frank Black and the Catholics must have been a memorable experience. Can you tell us about that particular gig and how it influenced the band’s trajectory or musical direction?

Ralph: We came from the Pixies like many bands of our ilk. But, beware of meeting your hero. 
John: We always really liked the Pixies. It was cool to see him live. It was at a small club in NJ. It was in our first year or so together and we were starting to get some good momentum behind us. That show helped us leverage other opportunities to book more shows.

Sparks Fly From A Kiss Band

The album cover art by Diana Simek is visually striking. Can you shed some light on the creative collaboration behind the artwork and how it complements the music within the compilation?

John: My wife and I have always collaborated creatively and I’ve used her artwork on a few different releases. The cover shot derives from a shoot where we used snow as a canvas for paint. The last cover, for the album The Swell, was a black highway, so the bright white snow on this cover felt like a nice contrast to that. I thought it was simultaneously bleak and eye-catching. Both the image and the title of the record bring to mind for me the idea of songs trapped on a hard drive – until now, that is. 

Is there anything else you would like to share, any upcoming new music?

Ralph: Working on San Tropez album ‘#2.’ 9 songs out on Mint 400 in the spring. 
John: I’m finishing a new album with The Clean Crime Scene called ‘Raw Cuts’; it’s slated for release late this year. It’s a recording project I started with my wife and some musically inclined friends. Nowadays I focus on recording as much as I can, whenever I can get time, in my home studio.

Sparks Fly From A Kiss 2

Finally, ‘Fun Question’ time… If Sparks Fly From A Kiss could time travel and collaborate with any artist or band from the past, who would it be and why? What kind of musical fusion or experiment do you envision occurring in this hypothetical collaboration?

Ralph: Meddle – Pink Floyd 
John: I think it would be fun to time travel back to around 1971-72 and play a show with Hawkwind. They were doing some really cool space rock using audio generators and really spacey effects. I think that would have been fun to see them live around that time. Some of the music we were playing might have fit in nicely with that sound.

As we wrap up this nostalgic journey through time and music, we hope you’ve enjoyed the insights shared by John and Ralph from Sparks Fly From A Kiss. The release of ‘Cornered and Shot’ not only resurrects forgotten and unheard tunes but also paints a vivid picture of a band that dared to blend classic hooks with spacey layers of sound – their legacy lives on in the music and notes they’ve left behind. Keep an eye out for more musical endeavours from individual band members, as they continue to weave their music in new projects. Thank you for joining us on this exploration of Sparks Fly From A Kiss – where sparks once flew, and the echoes of a musical era linger on.

Website / Spotify / Bandcamp / YouTube / Saint Tropez Band / The Clean Crime Scene


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About Author

Matt Warren

Matt Warren is a Cheshire based musician who studied contemporary music and composition. When not writing for The Indie Grid he enjoys watching 'Breaking Bad' on continuous loop and going to gigs. Since a youngster his fave band have been 'The Beatles' (with 'Cardiacs' in at a close second)... and this still applies to this day.

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