erasing clouds

Stars in the Basement: An Interview with Sprawl

by Tony Doug Wright

Dave Heaton, editor and fearless leader of, sends me various CDs for review. The bands are not household names, but they have the determination and drive to make it big. I was fortunate to receive the 2002 CD Sarah Veladora by the Toronto-based band Sprawl. This was a great effort with plenty of glam and attitude. After the review was published, I received e-mail from the band thanking me for the positive review. I replied to their message and offered them an interview. Band members Ralph Kircher, Jonathan Agensky and Matt Swift were kind enough to answer my questions via e-mail. Thank you, gentlemen.

It appears that things are taking off for the band since the 2002 release of Sarah Veladora. Two tracks have been licensed for the TV show Queer as Folk and one song licensed to Fashion Television. So, what is next for Sprawl?

To license the remaining eight songs and retire with Moby.

Ralph and Jonathan, you guys formed Sprawl back in 1996. Did you two know each other before combining forces? What was it that brought you two together as a band?

We were in an avant-art rock band together before evolving into a more song-based idiom. We met through a classified ad: "single, skinny, strung-out, neurotic, angst-ridden musical genius seeks like-minded other..."

Unfortunately, many music listeners in the U.S. get their daily dose of Canadian music through Avril Lavigne, Nickelback and Sum 41. What is the music scene like in Toronto? Also, what is your opinion of the aforementioned artists?

That's funny, most Canadians only hear of them too! Of course we're kidding... Whatever, more power to them. Toronto is arguably the "Culture capital" of Canada and there's always new acts both from this country and others coming through... so there's never a shortage of vibrant hip shit to check out.

Your reviews have been very positive and supportive. Many reviewers have compared your sound to that of Echo and the Bunnymen, The Jesus and Mary Chain and The Cure. How influential were these bands on you as musicians and songwriters? What other bands influenced the band?

Those are definitely influences from our formative songwriting years, and it's certainly an honour to be likened to them. From both a playing and songwriting perspective, we are influenced by a broad range of genres and eras, culminating into what we dub (somewhat controversially) songcore.

Could you go into detail on what you describe as "songcore"?

The "songcore" methodology/ideology is a song-driven one, in that we let the song develop in its own way, but still treat it with the Sprawl sound.

Is the band everyone's full-time job?

Sprawl is a labour of love, all consuming and omnipresent in all aspects of our lives. That being said, sometimes-financial side-projects are necessary.

What CDs have you guys been listening to lately?

Do you mean new stuff? We're listening to the Shins, Hot Hot Heat, Mum, Solex, BRMC, Interpol, Calexico, and Nick Cave's new record is fucking awesome.

Are you guys planning to play any shows in Michigan?

We're currently talking to several very cool US labels (with obvious impeccable taste) who are keen to start us touring in the late spring, and will hopefully be savvy at filling out the necessary border-crossing paperwork We look forward to rocking the rock city of Detroit.

Issue 13, April 2003 | next article

this month's issue
about erasing clouds

Copyright (c) 2005 erasing clouds