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Interview Neil SPARKES Sint Niklass (Belgium)
November 24th 2007

Cultuurcentrum of SINT NIKLAAS

(c) Copyright Neil Sparkes
  1. Tonight you are going to play with the Stranglers as a guest percussionist. How do you meet the band ?

    I first met JJ Burnel in about 1999 and I have always been a Stranglers's fan. The first gig I went to see with the band was in 1980 when I was about 13, at the Lyceum (London) when Hugh Cornwell had just come out of prison and they'd just released the single, Who Wants The World, so I'd always been a fan of the group, and for me, I had my own group Temple of Sound , and I very much wanted to get Jean-Jacques to do a vocal on a track for my group, which came out on an album called First Edition and I got him to do a vocal, he provided a vocal in French, for a track called Dojo Kun also Natacha Atlas , she's from Belgium, that's her original background, so I've always been a Stranglers fan when I met JJ in 1999..

  2. I know that you are a poet, a painter, a producer and a musician. Can you speak about all your different jobs ?

    Yeah. I mean, I started to write poetry, and had books of poetry published, and then began to perform poetry, but alongside that I'd always been a painter, I studied painting, and I have a background in painting, exhibiting pictures, and alongside that was also a musician but within that it was several different things, percussion, originally started out as a double bass player, so I had quite a broad interest in different styles of (c) Copyright 2007 music and I think that's reflected by what I do, my group is Temple of Sound but it was very much influenced by The Stranglers because I think within their music there is a huge amount of references, and you can take the electronic side from the Men in Black, and the Euroman Cometh of Jean-Jacques, which I think is very influential, by of course the bass sounds of The Stranglers, but for me it's actually about how these things connect, so pictures influence poems , and poems influence music, and they all interconnect, so rightly or wrongly or strangely or unstrangely for me it was a very natural thing to do.... to maintain these disciplines, I see them as 3 distinct disciplines but they are also things that can touch.

  3. Are you happy to play with the Stranglers, what are your impressions ?

    In some ways I think I am perfectly made to do the job because I've worked with musicians from all over the globe. I was a Stranglers's fan from 1979-80 so I know the songs. I have a lot of regard and respect for the group, and having worked with JJ Burnel, on one of my songs, when he performed the (c) Copyright 2007 vocals, and we've acually took Jean-Jacques out on tours when we have performed at several one night festivals, with Temple of Sound . I love every minute of it, I love the guy, I love the humour, I love the intelligence, I love the resilience of the band and the fact that they survived 30 years, and they are so influencial in so many different ways, culturally, musically, and it is just that the songs are really, at the end of the day, the songs are fantastic. 30 years of incredible music, so to be part of that, and also for me it's very interesting because it's percussion, Stranglers are not necessarily known as a band, obviously part from Jet's drumming, that would feature perhaps Latin percussion and things like that, so it's an interesting job for me to have to find a role and a place of what works in terms of percussion for the group without altering their sound, so it's a challenge and it's really fulfilling, I love it, it's great, one of my favourite band, so...