Kairen Kemp invited The Hoosiers and East Of Reno front man Irwin Sparkes to join her for an in depth chat this month.
Born and bred in Reading, Irwin Sparkes “plans on dying somewhere else”. This response is a great indicator of the humour of one of the truly nicest performers I’ve ever met in my years in the music business.
Having moved his family down from London during lockdown he’s a true Brightonian nowadays with the city being far enough away from the metropolis to relax and close enough for him to get up to the ‘smoke’ when needed.
After years of learning their trade in other bands Irwin and his friend, since teens, Al Sharland formed Brit-nominated pop-band The Hoosiers, who landed a number one UK album with their multi-platinum debut The Hoosiers & The Trick to Life in 2007. Overconfidence, a deluxe reissue of their 5th album Confidence with extra unreleased and live tracks, was released on 19th January. However we’re getting ahead of ourselves here ….
At the beginning of the 2000s the two friends landed an “improbable” football scholarship to the University of Indianapolis to study Theatre which didn’t go well – they weren’t great at sports – and didn’t break them into the US music scene as planned. The heady success and fame of The Hoosiers taught Sparkes some good life lessons. He’s credited therapy as having been life-changing and is an ambassador with the mental health charity Sane.
The new band East of Reno is a vibrant passion project which “cosies into the crevice between The Band & Little Feat”. This is no Laurel Canyon tribute act however with the music being redolent of that late 60s period but also sounding very ‘now’ with relevant song content. Sparkes’ fellow band members have played with Beyonce, Chrissie Hynde & Michael Jackson.
They’ve been lauded and playlisted by The Sound Lab, Amazing Radio, UK Country Radio, Country Roads Radio & The Sport with their debut single Brothers so look out for their EP release in May.
East Of Reno play Brighton’s Alphabet on Thurs 29th March as co-headliners with another local band, Get The Water. Join me there – I can’t wait.
To hear Kairen’s full interview with Irwin Sparkes tune in to Radio Reverb 97.2FM, DAB or radioreverb.com 3-4pm 4th February.