A New Spark
Following the success of a debut album Sparkadia frontman, Alex Burnett, didn’t know that all of his band members would leave. And while he clearly appreciated their work it seems he took the exodus in stride when he says “because with the second record [The Great Impression] the other guys wanted to do different things with their lives, I was given the freedom to do whatever. So if I felt like recording a gong or hitting a metal pole or creating a gospel choir with my vocals then I didn’t have to ask anyone… I just went with the flow. It was really scary not to have a band to rely upon but it was also really exciting!” Burnett tells me that he retained the band name Sparkadia rather than moving forward with his own name à la Ben Folds because going solo “insinuates a vibe where I pull out the old harmonica and be a travelling troubadour. Because I’d written the songs for the first album I didn’t feel like I was betraying a band ideal. It felt right to keep the name.”
Burnett has relocated to London which offers “a very encouraging world of pop music.” Certainly one of the more notable London artists to emerge in the last year or two is Florence and the Machine. Producer Mark Tieku, who worked with Florence, has produced The Great Impression . Burnett holds Tieku in high esteem as he explains, “as a songwriter, Mark was very respectful of what I did and pushed me in the right direction when I was lacking certain elements. With his pedigree and the songs he’d written… we gelled very comfortably.”
The album indeed seems like a natural step forward for Sparkadia. You’re still likely to recognise that Sparkadia-like sound but there’s an element of dramatic power that wasn’t there previously. Burnett expands on the influences. “This record is very much a cinematic record. China Town really influenced this album but Boardwalk Empire was just coming out around the time I was working on the album and I loved all of the 1920s references and the religiosity of it. John Barry and the James Bond soundtrack are incredible but there’s loads of music that inspires me!”
After listing off in a fluster a myriad of names like The KLF and Primal Scream, Burnett goes on to explain that “there’s so much music over here! Every night there’s something going on. Just recently I saw CocknBullKid and she’s got great attitude! To see this kind of music is inspiring as an artist because it makes you justify and rethink what you do and what your show involves.”
Burnett looks forward to performing in Australia to Sparkadia’s loyal fan-base with his new British band who haven’t been here before.
The Great Impression tour rolls into town on Thursday March 24 as Sparkadia perform at the ANU Bar with Operator Please and Alpine supporting. Tickets are $23.85 and are available through Ticketek.