“’Best Laid Plans’, that should probably be the name of our next album,” quips singer Irwin Sparkes. The start of 2015 has been an interesting one for The Hoosiers, not least because of the (amicable) departure of long-time bass player Martin Skarendahl.
The Hoosiers plan to release new music as it was recorded on a series of EPs throughout 2015 was thwarted by virtue of asking the fans if they liked the idea. The near-unanimous, and unexpectedly surprising response was “We want an album!” – so the band have recently returned to the studio to finish up the upcoming now-full-length, fan-mandated album The Secret Service, due out 9th October.
Engaging directly with fans in a continual online dialogue since the lead-up to their 3rd album The News From Nowhere has enriched and revitalised the band, they say, not to mention vindicated their decision to set up their own business and label for self-releasing. Even if it occasionally means a radical release re-think.
Yet there were times, as each member of the band will readily admit, where things were altogether less open and easy.
The multiplatinum success of their 2007 debut album, The Trick to Life, and singles such as “Worried About Ray” and “Goodbye Mr. A”, raised huge expectations for its follow-up, not least at The Hoosiers’ record label. The prophetically titled The Illusion of Safety was, all the band agree, a troubled project from the start.
Irwin suggests, “The word ‘hit’ is substituted for ‘good’. There’s an art to writing under those conditions, but it wasn’t one that worked for us. It exacts a toll on too many writers. You give up too much if you do that.”
Such a negative experience of the creative process – the odd laugh aside – would have done for many bands, and there was indeed a period where The Hoosiers went their separate ways. “I remember getting to this point,” says Al, “where I said, ‘I need some space from this’. I think we all knew it. We needed to forget about it for a while.”
The News From Nowhere, released in 2014, was an astonishing return to form. “Doing it on our own terms,” says Irwin, “and actually having a proper say in it, felt wonderful. We had nothing to lose, but a lot to prove.”
Tension, creativity, democracy, arguments, time apart, coming back together, and then songs. Lots of them. Gone is the self-consciousness of the dog days around their second album; gone, too, the self-doubt. In their place is a deeply rooted – and hard-won – confidence, and a determination to lock back in to the freedom and joy of the early days.
Irwin Sparkes, vocals, guitars
Sam Swallow, keyboards, vocals, bass
Alan Sharland, drums, vocals, percussion
MANAGEMENT – Erik Nielsen, Wingnut Music / firstname.lastname@example.org
LIVE AGENT / BOOKINGS – Vinesh Patel, Coalition Talent / email@example.com