Sparrow and the Workshop's Crystals Fall: Track-by-Track, By the Band

Feature by Jill O'Sullivan | 29 Mar 2010
  • Sparrow and the Workshop - Crystals Fall

Into the Wild
We were at a point where we had just begun to go out touring, to deal with promoters, labels, press, etc, and this song is a testament of the fear, distrust and excitement we were experiencing at that time; this is the first song we used the 'basstard' on (Nick converted his beloved Burns guitar into half bass/half guitar so as to play both at the same time). It payed off - the basstard seems to be getting more press than us!

Blame it on Me
The vocal melody is pretty sparse on this song, which gives Nick and Gregor [drums] space to play around with the structure and mess with their instruments a lot. I guess that the song itself about looking for help and not finding it in the people you thought were your friends. I like holding the opening note as long as I can before I run outta breath when we play this one live, I don’t know why I do this.

I Will Break You
This song we like to dedicate to Sarah Palin - I wrote it around the time of the Bush era coming to a close. Nick wrote the main riff during the day and a vocal melody popped into my head in the middle of the night. So there’s me saying 'Quick, Nick - get the guitar" and singing and playing it at 4am half-naked whilst the neighbours were pounding on the walls... oops.

I love the drum roll throughout this song, it has a battle call feel to it, then it kicks into a sort of ballad at the end with the slide guitar going bonkers. I guess Mercenary is about being frustrated with misguided people who seem to do more damage than good.

Crystals came about at a time when things got a little more serious for us, and we were spending more and more time away from our proper jobs, meaning that our financial situation got seriously tight; It was about the guilt of feeling the allure and security of money. This song really feels like it's a launch-pad into the next album; however, we've no idea how it will sound. Just the way we explore the arrangements, I guess, is different from previous songs.

Swam Like Sharks
One night we realised that Gregor could sing - (we caught him singing in the kitchen one day while he was cooking). I wanted to write a kind of duet, and it made more sense once I could imagine Gregor’s vocal on it. In a way, this is a song about growing up, lamenting the loss of zest for life that you have when you're young. It's also a love song.

Last Chance
This one is about shaking off ghosts, things from your past that come back to haunt you. No actual murders took place in the making of it, as they do in the song. This one is very percussive - Gregor's planning on doing a complete four-to-the-floor Ibiza remix of it.

Devil Song
The Devil Song is fun to play live, and it always makes it into our set list. The song itself is about someone struggle to come to terms with their own conscience; striving to become a better person but failing ultimately. This song came together really quickly, and we really enjoy playing it, but were really surprised when people liked it so much - the song has been very kind to us - its got us tours, believe it or not.

The Gun
This is the first song that I ever wrote - it's hard to sing it because it evokes memories from ages ago. I suppose it's a very personal song, but people have told us they can relate to it so I guess that's a good thing. Suffice to say, it has a happy ending.

Broken Heart, Broken Home
This one Gregor wrote and there is a funny anecdote - he literally did crack a rib after passing out drunk over a toilet, I think that’s what inspired the song. It's a very uplifting song, a 'pull-your-socks-up' and move on.

Medal Around Your Neck
I once read a very sad article about a guy with Gulf War Syndrome. He was a total mess; his relationships with people fell apart and he had horrible nightmares. I couldn't get the story out of my head and this song is loosely based on it. This song has a rather special place in our hearts as we were lucky enough to be invited down to a converted Granary in Kent for a few days to record it track on a bunch of very old analogue equipment. This was a completely live take.

A Horse's Grin
This a bit of a piss-take; it's about liking a guy that all your family and friends think is a total douche. Nonetheless, you think he's the bee’s knees even if he kinda looks like a horse, never shuts up and thinks he's god's gift to women.

You've Got it All
I'm gonna go ahead and say it, this song is about giving the 'man' the middle finger, without actually using any swearwords or filthy hand gestures. I guess it's a reminder to be content with what you've got. Also, we love playing it live because it starts with just guitar and vocals and then all the instruments kick in half way through, and if our friend Fish is in the audience he'll holler really loudly and sort of freak everyone in the room out. We took him on tour with us back in October and he did that every single night, even if we were only playing to five people and a dog.

Crystals Fall is released via Distiller Records on 19 April.

Sparrow and the Workshop play King Tut’s, Glasgow on 3 April.