Brownstock 2015: Interview with The Hoosiers

Photos by Bill Ahmed

[Shelby Loasby | Head of Print]

One of the biggest bands of our generation put on a spectacle at Brownstock Festival last weekend – the Hoosiers. Their energetic, highly entertaining and flawless performance, took us on a journey through their discography and reminded us of their unique and nostalgic sound.

The boys rocked out to hits, ‘Cops and Robbers’ and ‘Worried about Ray’ before moving on to their latest album, The News from Nowhere, with ‘Fidget Brain’ and ‘Handsome girls and pretty boys.’


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Before being mesmerised by their talent, however, Trident Media were lucky enough to catch up with the boys backstage and got to know a bit more about the stars behind ‘Goodbye Mr. A.’

Who are the Hoosiers and what does it mean?

If you’ve been living under a rock and don’t know who the boys are, there’s; Irwin Sparkes – singer and lead guitar, Alan ‘Alphonso’ Sharland – drums, Sam Swallow – Keyboard, and Martin Skarendahl – Bass guitar.

The band have produced three killer albums, re-released one with a different name, and have just announced their fourth studio album, The Secret Service, which will be released on 9th October.

The name originates from Irwin and Alan’s visit to the USofA, and is actually a colloquial term for an Indiana citizen. The boys went out to Indiana on a soccer scholarship for a year, and when they returned to the UK, they started looking at band names.

“We wanted to have a connection to our time in the US somehow,.” said Alan, “and the Hoosiers worked!”

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What did they get up to at university in Indiana?

Like most university experiences, Irwin and Alan had a few funny stories to share.

“We were petty thieves!” said Irwin. “We were petty larceny criminals.”

Alan laughed but said, “It’s not funny though, it’s naughty. I think being in a different country, there was a certain element of thinking we could get away with things.”

The boys described one incriminating, drunken night; “We stole eggs and bacon, and then went back to someone’s house and things went out of hand,” said Irwin. “Before you know it, it was a full on food fight with stolen eggs being thrown at people’s faces.”

We then explained to the band that ‘Goodbye Mr. A’ and ‘Worried about Ray’ were anthems for most of our generation at university, and asked if they had one back in their day:

Irwin: Living on Prayer! Alan: Yeah definately! Irwin: Don’t get me wrong, we’re not that old! Alan: Yeah back in the 70s Irwin: It had been out for about six months at this point! Trident Media: It is a tune! Irwin: It is isn’t it. And ‘Teenage Dirtbag.’ That is a tune! TM: Yes! Wheatus came to our uni and they played every song and left ‘Teenage Dirtbag’ to the end. Irwin: Eurgh who does that?! TM: Everyone said “Come on! Play your only song!” Alan: Yeah otherwise people leave. We’ve witnessed this! Irwin: Yeah we will tell you! We stick up for Wheatus!

(Read our Interview with Wheatus here!)


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What is the inspiration for their music?

Each Hoosiers’ album has a different sound and feel, with different ideas and inspirations coming to the table from each member. Alan described the change in sound as a “natural change as you go through retirement.”

He added, “We’ve never had like a specific genre where we get our hair cut like mods and play the same thing all the time. It’s part of our personality, keeps ourselves on our toes.”

Sam shed light on the songwriting process and how their music comes together. “There’s not just one writer. Everyone’s getting into different stuff and there’s always different influences coming in.”

The band also try to steer away from the generic ‘boy loves girl,’ lyrics: “We tend to try and make something that doesn’t feel like it’s just been rehashing an old idea about love or the same view,” said Irwin.

“There’s nothing you can say that hasn’t been said, but it’s saying it from your point of view or finding a slight twist on it.” He added, “That’s something that draws us to it.”

Whilst the Hoosiers enjoy working with a plethora of influences and create different albums, Alan explained: “There’s still always a consistency going through all the records so it is the same band.”

“Yeah, it’s in the writing,” said Irwin.


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Flying the Record Label nest

In 2011 The Hoosiers left SONY RCA after a marketing dispute, and set out on their own. Obviously leaving a Major record label it wasn’t going to be easy for the band, but when they announced their third album, The News from Nowhere, in 2013, they admitted to fans;

“We’re not a big record label with lots of money, though, so need to pay for the recording, manufacturing, adverts, videos, touring, promotion – all the stuff a label usuall