Exposure: Make Sparks
Make Sparks - Rewind
Few people can genuinely say that they have dedicated their life to music. However, the boys of Make Sparks are an example of three people who have done just that. Their Light in the Sky EP is a collection of enthralling, well crafted pop songs performed with true belief and enthusiasm; a result of the years of dedication invested in their craft. In addition to their own music, they have co-founded the Electric Bay festival which has taken place in Lunan Bay, near Carnoustie, for the last two years, and perform in a covers band to pay their living costs. It is apparent that music is the driving force of Craig, Adam and Bobby's lives. I spoke with Craig about their music, upcoming releases and the Electric Bay festival.
Where are you based? Do you think this has an influence on the type of music you play?
Adam and I live in Glasgow and Bobby stays in Carnoustie, where we are all originally from. I guess being from Carnoustie has probably influenced us quite a bit. For such a small town, everyone seems to be in a band. We've been in bands since we were all fairly young, and in school there were always older guys in bands. Maybe it's because there's nothing to do there. Aye, that's probably it! If we weren't in bands before the age of 18, all we would have done is play football.
The style of music we play was probably influenced by the people around us, rather than the actual place. We grew up around some pretty talented people.
Is there any particular band you find inspiring, or would aspire to be like?
For the past few years, I've found Sucioperro a really inspiring band. The level of work and commitment they put into what they do is something that really gets me moving! Other bands we know and have gigged with get me inspired, such as The Void, Quiver and the Ladysnatchers, Jocasta Sleeps and Six Star Hotel. They all make us want to make more music and work harder to be better musicians and a better band. Seeing a good band doing something different or going the extra mile on a shoestring budget always makes us want to test ourselves. Bands we would aspire to be like are all the bands that headline festivals. At the end of the day we want to play the huge gigs on the biggest stages. For now we'll settle for any sold out venue or great show - but that's where we all want to end up.
What brought Make Sparks together? Is there a key driving force behind the band?
Bobby and I have been in bands together since we were 14 or 15, and Adam is my younger brother. When he was about 14 and we were 17 he joined us and we started making music together. We used to write him sick notes for school and sneak back into the house to practise all day. Wanting to be in a band and make music has been the driving force for all of us since the start. We just love to play, and when other people care about what we're doing, that makes it all the better.
What influences you to write, and to continue writing music? Is there one main songwriter or do you all contribute?
Just that we love to make music. We love being in a band. We don't have any other discernable skills or ways of making money, so this is perfect. Great gigs keep us writing. We don't want to play to the same crowd six months down the line and show them the same show we did last time. We always like to be writing and adding to our set. We all take turns writing. I've probably done the majority, but all of the best tracks are collaborative. We've sponsored a rugby player in our home town in exchange for access to the rugby club Monday-Friday to rehearse and demo anything we've written, so things don't sit too long on the shelf.
You recently organised the Electric Bay festival at Lunan Bay. Can you tell us a little about this?
We have just had our third year of Electric Bay, although I should say now that it's not just our festival - we put it on with our sound guy and fourth member Dave Neill of Stereotech and two other musician pals, Ailsa Laurie and Andrew Sheperd. It all started three years ago when we were saying that we should put on a show for our bands just up the road from our home at Lunan Bay. That was on a Tuesday, and by the weekend we had built an open air stage and invited a bunch of friends to come for a party... and prayed for sunshine, which we got!
The second year, we put up a second stage and added a second day. About 15 bands from around the area played and that was great. Last year we really stretched ourselves and had 26 bands over two stages. It lasted two days, and about 350 people turned up. It was fantastic. We had bands from all over Scotland that were just amazing. I think there will be another one in 2010.
Where can people find more information about the festival? How can others get involved?
You just have to keep your ear to the ground. It started off as a private party for friends and we have just let it grow by word of mouth. So many people have told us each year that its the best weekend/day/gig of their life, so we are almost terrified to ruin it! We just want to let it grow on its own, and whatever happens, happens. We just make sure we've got a line up of great bands and that all the agencies are happy with our safety precautions etc. If anyone wants to get involved, you just have to ask. That's how the whole thing comes together. Anyone who has anything to offer (even just picking up a few beer cans) is more than welcome to help out!
What venues have you played, and which of these has been your favourite? Do you have any upcoming shows?
We've just finished a tour with The Void from Edinburgh. We played Cab Vol, Reading Rooms, Glenrothes, Peterhead, Bloc and a few others. We've made some good friends at venues, and our favourite one is probably when we put on our own night at Dexters in Dundee. It's a sweaty old school rock and roll kind of feel when it's packed in there. It's all about the atmosphere of a good crowd. I'd say that's our favourite.
We are currently booking a last minute tour for the end of November into December. The last date will be at King Tut's with Sucioperro on the night of their single launch. We are pretty excited to be asked to play that show!
Do you have any upcoming releases you'd like to tell us about? What are your plans for the near future?
We are going to release our second EP in November. It's a bit of an unexpected one. We just did some recordings with no real intentions, so alongside material we have been sitting on, we just decided to release it in November. We're booking gigs to support it at the moment. We think we'll release a double A-side early in the new year and then another EP in the spring, then take it all on the road next summer. We've just got to keep making music and keep believing in what we're doing. Happy days!
Make Sparks play Bar Bloc, Glasgow, Thu 26 Nov; Dexters, Dundee Sat 28 Nov; Stirling Uni Transmission, Fri 4 Dec; Sneaky Pete's, Edinburgh Sat 12 Dec; King Tut's, Glasgow, Sun 13 Dec; Mad Hatters, Inverness Sun 27 Dec.