The Irish songwriter Adrian Crowley recently released his fifth record “Season Of The Sparks”, the follow up to his critically acclaimed record “Great Lake Swimmer”. “Season Of The Sparks” is the perfect sequel featuring twelve folksongs in a beautiful sound landscape. We have made an interview with Crowley asking him about his success, his friendship to James Yorkston and the work on “Season Of The Sparks”.
Sonic Reducer: When did you decide to become a full time musician instead of having a regular day job?
Adrian Crowley: About 5 years ago. I just thought there seemed to be a way of taking it further so I took the plunge.
Sonic Reducer: Did you regret this decision at some point?
Adrian Crowley: Never!
Sonic Reducer: “Season Of The Sparks” has already been released in Ireland a couple of months ago. Are you happy with the record itself and the reactions to it?
Adrian Crowley: Season Of The Sparks was a dream to make. I was totally immersed in the songs and had found a new confidence in performing them.It was a wonderful experience recording and arranging them. I can safely say that I’m delighted with how the record turned out. I had an impression that there was a progression from the previous record Long Distance Swimmer but also felt that this was a very different record so I couldn’t in any way predict what people outside my circle would think of it. When the record came out in Ireland it got a great reception, I have felt a lot good will coming my way since then. So yes I’m very happy with how it’s been received.
Sonic Reducer: Did you feel any pressure to write songs for this record after receiving all these euphoric reviews for “Long Distance Swimmer” and even being praised by artists like Ryan Adams?
Adrian Crowley: Luckily I had already started writing songs for Season Of The Sparks before Long Distance Swimmer was even released. With ‘..Swimmer’ I had experienced a frustrating year of waiting around for it to see the light of day. So in the end I just started writing for a new record. When ‘..Swimmer’ finally came out I had lost any sense of expectation – though the songs were still very much close to me, I moved on in a sense. So when it got such a massively positive response I was bowled over. I did start feeling a sort of pressure to deliver something of similar worth,however in terms of a follow up record.There was a period of a few months before I started recording Season of The Sparks when I started questioning everything but a point has to come when you shut the door and forget about expectations and just concentrate on making something that resonates with you.
When Ryan Adams mentioned me in Rolling Stone it was like suddenly I realised that my music might have wings of its own. It was a very flattering thing to happen and completely out of the blue as well. It did wonders for my spirit.
Sonic Reducer: How did you come up with the idea to cover the Ivor Cutler song “Squeeze bees”?
Adrian Crowley: That came about very naturally, in fact. Soon after he passed away I was approached by some concert promoters in Aberdeen in Scotland to take part in an Ivor Cutler tribute
night. Although I had been a fan of his music for years I was daunted by the idea of ever attempting to tackle one of his compositions. I remember the concert was scheduled for early January 2007 and I spent most of Christmas working on interpretations of two of his songs- ‘Squeeze Bees’ and ‘A Bubble Or Two’. The concert was a success and I continued to play ‘Squeeze Bees’ live so when it came to recording a new record I thought it would be nice to include it in the list of songs. I had actually started mixing it before I suggested to my friend Stephen Shannon (the recording engineer) that maybe I should try recording ‘Squeeze Bees’.The microphone and amp were already set up in the live room so the whole song took less than an hour to capture.I’m glad it made it onto the record and I hope the Cutler Family would be happy with it if they heard it.
Sonic Reducer: My favorite song on “Season Of The Sparks” is the other bee song “The Beekeeper’s Wife”. It reminds me of some great Richard Hawley songs. What´s the story behind this song?
Adrian Crowley: Ah I’m glad you chose that one, that’s nice to hear. Well like much of what I write the ideas just happen- partly fantasy and partly adaptation of real life characters.If there was a story from real life behind ‘The Beekeeper’s Wife’ then I would say it is a reflection on one Summer in my teens.
Sonic Reducer: You have also made a small Daniel Johnston tribute record together with your friend James Yorkston. Whose idea was it and how did it come along?
Adrian Crowley: That was great fun to make.If I remember rightly that was James’ idea. We had both played together singing Daniel’s songs at the ‘The Devil And Daniel Johnston’ special concert at The Barbican in London, celebrating the first screening of the movie.So about a year or two later James and I thought of doing a collaborative record of songs by a writer we both admired.We chose Daniel. We each chose four songs, recorded them at home and sent the unfinished versions to each other to add instruments to. So the one was recorded in Ireland and Scotland – in my attic and James’s living room. I love the lo-fi production we captured. Someone we know came up with the title ‘The Invaders Salute Captain America’.
Sonic Reducer: Is this record still available at your concerts or anywhere else?
Adrian Crowley: No.We only did a limited run just to sell at The Fence Collective’s ‘Homegame’ festival which is held every Easter in Fife in Scotland. It was completely sold out that weekend. (We only did 99 copies!) I would like us to release it in a more widespread way. We’ve had people writing to us asking where they can find it. Actually neither James nor I have even one copy for ourselves!
Sonic Reducer: Do you have any plans to tour Germany soon?
Adrian Crowley: I would absolutely love to come and tour in Germany.It would be my first time. I have no plans yet..maybe I’ll wait for an invitation first..or just come anyway.Maybe in the Spring?