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Sparrows – Album Feature & Interview

Article by: Steve Principato


Originating from Toronto, a city known for its immaculate subway stations and a former mayor that knows how to party hard, comes Sparrows, a delay-heavy, no-holds-barred band formed in 2010. The four piece act consists of founder and guitarist/vocalist Dan Thomson, bassist Matt Sears, drummer Jon Busby, and guitarist Justin Sears.

On their upcoming third release, Dragging Hell, Sparrow delivers four echo-drenched, atmospheric, and emotionally driven tracks of deep-rooted post-harcore pedigree. Dragging Hell continues the band’s mission to uphold the solid traditions of influential acts including Moneen and Sparta, preserving the life of the post-harcore scene for years to come.

MonkeyGoose had the opportunity to catch up with singer Dan Thomson and ask him a few questions…

— At what point in your life did you decide to be in a band? How did Sparrows come to be?

DT- Being in a band is something I’ve always wanted to do since I started playing guitar. At least in a casual sense. I think I was more intrigued by the idea of people being able to create music together, then I have ever been with the idea of mastering an instrument. The idea of being in a serious band developed a little bit later down the line. Sparrows began after my last band broke up. I was sitting around writing all these songs, trying to decide whether it was something I wanted to do. A friend and I started working on them and it quickly became apparent to us that things were really working for both of us.


— As a fellow musician, I’d love to know what sort of gear (guitars and effects) you prefer as a band, and how you feel it makes your sound unique?

DT – Effects (and gear in general) are a huge part of Sparrows, and is literally a part of everything we do. A lot of the music is written with certain effects in mind, and we tend to lean pretty heavily on them. I look at a lot of effects as an extension of creativity. It’s not really there to cover things up, but an added tool you can use to make things that much more exciting. We are huge users of delay. Between Justin and myself, we have more delay then we’d really like to admit. We use a lot of reverb too, but I would say that’s used more in a complimentary role than something huge.


— What was the recording process like for Dragging Hell? How long did it take to write/record the EP? Also, how did you come together with Kenny Bridges, and what was it like working with him?

DT- Dragging Hell was a long process. The writing of the songs took place during a very hellish time in my life. When it finally came time to record these songs, the band was in disarray. The drums were tracked over one weekend and I headed back and played the rest of the record myself (with some help from Kenny). The actual recording time was great. Kenny and I have a great working relationship, and he really brings out the creative side in guitar playing. We’ve been lucky enough to work with him for 2 out of the 3 records we’ve done so far, and he’s really become the 5th member of Sparrows. It’s really a great feeling to be able to work with someone whose music you admire, and see where your joined pool of ideas can take you.


— What are your thoughts on Canadian rock music (do you find it to be different from US music, and why?), and have you been inspired by any bands in particular that hail from Canada? (Neil Young? Rush? … Nickelback?)

DT- This a bit of a loaded question haha. I find that there isn’t really a significant difference stylistically, but there is definitely a difference in the business and attitude side of things. I actually like being a part of the Canadian music scene. It’s really a nice culture where people are always interested in what’s going on. And it’s almost become this big pool where all us Canadian bands root for the other Canadian bands out there (maybe with the exception of the Biebs). There are definitely some Canadian bands we have been inspired by; Moneen, Grade, Sights & Sounds, Choke, bands that I wouldn’t necessarily say would be defined by their country of origin, but bands that we were definitely exposed to a lot more.


— In line with the previous question, what musicians influenced you the most growing up? Who was the first band you saw perform live, and how did it go?

DT – I’ve been a huge Moneen fan since the first time I saw them when I was 17. A few friends and I drove up to Kingston, Ontario to see them play at this tiny venue on Queen’s University campus. It was life changing to say the least. Anyone who saw Moneen in their heyday can attest to them being the most insane live band around. Insane isn’t even a big enough word to really describe it. They literally tore the drop ceiling down in the venue that night. I knew from seeing them at that moment, that being in a touring band was all I wanted to do. And the older I get and the more my priorities shift in things, that one point has never really changed. All spanning from a 40 minute drive to see four Canadian boys lose their minds.

The first show I ever remember seeing as a kid was April Wine. I can’t even tell you how old I was or where it was, but I know they were the first actual show I saw as a human.


— Listening to your songs, I feel a solid consistency in the music. How do you feel Sparrows will evolve in the future? Where is the band headed next, musically speaking?

DT – There’s never really been a definitive ideal for songwriting in Sparrows, and I don’t know if there ever will be. But there is definitely an effort to keep things “Sparrows”. That being said, I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to say specifically where things are going (let alone any musician). There definitely won’t be any Ska or anything. haha. But I think that’s kind of the beauty in music, or art in general. Seeing where things head. There’s always going to be loud angry parts, and quiet pretty parts, and loads of delay. But who’s to say that things can’t move past that. Who knows?


— Do you think, with how much the internet’s taken over the world, and the disappearance of MTV, that it’s become more (or less) difficult to find success in the music industry? In addition to touring, social media sites have become the way to promote new music… has this worked for Sparrows, and in what ways are you using technology to help get your name out there?

DT – I think the definition of success has changed in this day and age. Some of it for the good and some for the bad. I like the idea that music is a lot more accessible, and that people can get their stuff to their fans a lot more directly. But I also feel like the internet has ruined a lot of what used to be great about live music, or just being a music fan. It seems like there is a decline in people going to see live music, or taking a chance on seeing new bands, because they’ve already decided if the band is good because of how many facebook likes they have or how cool their merch is. I miss the days of seeing new bands be the first band on a tour package and hearing them for the first time like that. Experiencing what they have to offer.

Nowadays, the musical experience is more about recorded music, and it seems like we’re really starting to lose that overall experience.

Sparrows has kind of existed oblivious to all of this. We’ve always been of the idea that if you get out and play shows, people will eventually come along to you. Since the band started we’ve played over 160 shows and, while it may not have come quick, we are starting to see the same people start coming out to our shows. It’s a really nice feeling.

We do have all those social media outlets (my personal favourite being instagram), and we try and keep them as updated as possible. But to me, the biggest experience with a band is the live show, and I’m always going to try and keep that as consistent as we can.


Dragging Hell drops August 28th. You can pre-order it on iTunes here.

Be sure to catch Sparrows on their summer tour of the states in one of these cities near you:

8.15.2015 Baltimore, MD (CCAS)

8.16.2015 Philadelphia, PA (Kung Fu Necktie)

8.17.2015 New York City, NY

8.19.2015 Burlington. VT (242 Main)

8.20.2015 Ottawa, On (Cafe Dekcuf)

8.21.2015 Kingston, ON

8.22.2015 Toronto, ON (Smiling Buddha)


Steven Principato
Steven Principato is our resident music historian and unofficial metal corespondent. Besides trying not to get his photo gear smashed in the pit, you might otherwise find him obsessing about obscure musical details. It happens to be Steven's eventual goal to be on stage IN the concert photo rather than the one taking it.