The Session: Hoosiers going it aloneBy Linda Serck
March 30, 2011
So there they are, signing in at BBC Berkshire's reception – Irwin Sparkes, a diminutive front man with the genuine popstar name, a lovably goofy Alan Sharland and a silently confident Scandinavian Martin Skarendahl – aka The Hoosiers.
Immediately there is animated chatter, a flurry of apologies that they're late, how bad the Reading traffic was, a quick natter in the canteen where I feed them chocolate croissants and tea, and lots of laughter.
The Hoosiers certainly live up to their quirky pop persona and their amusing interview answers are still well-oiled, even though they’ve been out of the limelight for a number of years.
“I'm still waiting for them to erect the life-sized bronze statue, but, um, I won't hold my breath,” grins Irwin, when I mention that we're not far from where he went to school at Waingels College in Woodley.
He's not holding his breath perhaps because, despite their major pop band status, the Reading/Bracknell/ Sweden band have had a monumental shift in their career these past years.
In fact, the reason why it all went quiet on the Hoosiers front is because they left their major label Sony and are going it alone.
To cut a long story short, the band were profoundly unhappy with the lack of promotion from Sony when their second album was released.
So much so that the trio asked for their album back, and are re-releasing it with a new title and four extra tracks.
“Most bands tend to re-issue an album because it's sold so many and they want to squeeze a few more out,” says Irwin.
“For us it's more the case that I don't think many people knew that the second album had been released. So we're having to re-issue it to bring it to people's awareness.”
Second album The Illusion Of Safety and the now retitled Bumpy Ride sum up pretty well how they were feeling.
“The illusion – that burst quite soon, so Bumpy Ride – we're facing facts, that's for sure,” says Irwin.
The trio sold more than a million albums on Sony, but now they are starting from square one again. You could almost say The Hoosiers have joined the DIY ethic.
Even their video is self-made on a shoestring (albeit filmed in the US).
But the band see this as a positive.
“I don't think it's the sort of video we would have done on the label,” says drummer Alan, who attended Easthampstead Park School in Bracknell.
“We went away for eight days and ad-libbed it almost. I don't think the label would have allowed that. So already we're starting to see things work a bit differently.”
Martin the bassist adds: “With the writing as well we feel a lot more freedom. We're not as afraid to try new things.”
With no press agents to keep time we go way over their schedule, so after tidying our canteen trays and posing for a quick snap, they stroll out to drive themselves to the next interview.
It is going to be a bumpy ride for the band but, as the next line of the song goes, “it sure beats standing still”.
Bumpy Ride the album will be out on Monday, April 11.
Listen to Linda on BBC Radio Berkshire at 7pm on Sunday