How did you come up with your name?
The name came about as a sort of a sarcastic nod to how hard it is to keep band members together.
So Jangling Sparrows is meant to be this image of musicians fluttering in and out of the band.
The first bands I played in, everyone got along so well, we hung out together and everyone was dedicated to pushing things forward so when I started my own band I thought that’s how it was going to be, I found out fast how naive that was.
What’s your favorite song to play live?
Right now either “Cheaper Down The Road”. People really respond to it consistently. It’s got that fun pump to it. Also one called “Highway Jawn”, it has a similar feel. It’s country on the bottom but second line on top, then the chorus goes into this Waylon style half time beat. That gets folks dancing big time.
Who are some of your influences?
Neil Young- I always tell people who are on the fence about him to listen to Tonight’s The Night because it’s got everything that people who hate him hate about him to the 10th power.. But it’s so raw. I tell people, it’s a brilliant piece of sh*t.
Uncle Tupelo. There’s just no substitute for that kind of originality. You tell people it’s a blend of punk and country and they think cowpunk but it’s anything but.
Guided By Voices. I tell people, they’re like The Beatles meet The Sex Pistols.
Jim Croce. As a songwriter, he really commits to the mood of a piece.
CCR-It’s amazing to me that nothing in any song is that remarkable. Not the lyrics, not the playing, not the structures, but somehow they are more than the sum of their parts. It’s still a mystery and colossally impressive.
If you could tour with anyone who would it be?
Probably Springsteen or Petty. I feel like they would have the right balance of knowing how to have fun but always staying professional. Remembering why you’re out there is something that’s hard to teach guys unless they’re already making huge money. At my level, getting guys to pay attention to details on the road can be challenging. Plus I think their fan base would really like Jangling Sparrows.
Describe your songwriting process.
I go for mood, cadence and story. Often time rhyme is sacrificed or juxtaposed if I can get a stronger feeling across without it. I want listeners to be able to smell a song. That’s how far I hope to take them. Often lyrics or a progression will sit around for years until I can find the right match to get the full range of emotional breadth. I’ll have a progression and a melody and think, what is this about. I’ll never just match words to chords just because they’re existing in the same moment.
How did you meet the members of your band?
Ha! Craigslist. No joke. That’s not to say they’re the first I found there, far from it. But by the time I found them, after going through so many guys that talk a good game but don’t deliver, I learned how to hone exactly what I’m asking for. I’m really happy with this unit and hope it sticks around for a while.
Who’s the dream producer you would like to work with?
Whoever did Harvest Moon and some of Neil Young’s Albums after. I think Ben Keith. The ambiance is incredible. It’s like you’re listening to them from the back of a church but everything is still so present. Jimmy Page for the same reason. You can really hear the room on those Zep albums. That’s important to me. My last disc was recorded on reel to reel and you can really hear the warmth. Rick Rubin for his work on Wildflowers.
What do you think musicians can do to make the world a better place?
There’s that saying about having to take care of yourself before you can take care of others. But I think in the case of a lot of musicians, that script could use to be flipped.
Musicians can be a self serving lot and I think if we, as a community, can be more, well, community minded, we could really elevate the success of independent artists across the board. In turn, I believe we’d really start seeing that beget itself in how artists approach and release their work to benefit others. Not only could we lift each other up, we could gain power back over big labels and do a lot of positive work from city to city all over. I see some examples of this but by in large, it’s could be a lot better.
How has music made a difference in your life?
Psh, How hasn’t it. Every good relationship I have, I have through playing music, including my wife. Some of this goes back to the last question. I was part of a great scene in Philly where we really elevated each other. There was no competitiveness or caddy attitudes. That helped me rise and grow, as it did many others. When you do that, you are also making it attractive to a better quality of person looking to break in. And this is what I want to bring to music at an even higher level.
What’s the one word to describe Jangling Sparrows?
It’s roots rock, Americana but it flirts often with 2nd line, ska and zydeco feels. It’s songwriter driven, with good lyrical content but it’s fun.