Sparks The Rescue is winning and they have been for the past couple of years. Once an unsigned band based in an overlooked music market with limited funds, the Maine pop rock collective have diligently built a promising career in a state where countless of others have failed. The five-piece have received love from the local scene, intelligently promoted themselves on various social networking sites and linked up with major indie label Fearless Records in 2009. Now, they are on the verge of releasing their sophomore set Worst Thing I’ve Been Cursed With.
Despite whatever they’ve been cursed with, the group has overcome every obstacle that has stood in their path. Perhaps that’s because their veins might be pumping tiger blood -- pumping so much tiger blood that they were inspired to record “It Feels Good To Be Charlie Sheen,” a free download that pays homage to the A-list actor’s crazy antics.
Feels Good to Be Charlie Sheen
“We thought it would be funny and obviously try to capitalize on all hype around him right now,” front man Alex Roy explains. “We took a song coming out on our new record and I re-wrote the words. I had a blast writing it! I printed out like five pages if quotes and sayings he has said lately.”
Although Sheen has clearly influenced them, the fact is Sparks The Rescue has spent the past few years winning even before the thespian ever dreamed of patenting the word.
Formed during their high school days in 2001, Sparks The Rescue was originally content playing their little hearts out in the local music scene -- a scene that held hometown artists in high regards due to the lack of big name groups willing to swing through the state. It wasn’t until 2005 when the collective decided to dedicate their livelihood in giving the band a serious shot.
That also meant some serious sacrifices had to be made. The members dropped out of the respective colleges they were attending, and abandoning the comfort of regular gigs at familiar Maine venues for the chance to self-book tours down the East Coast.
Sparks The Rescue also built a fan following all throughout the social media world, a marketing tool that has been fundamental to the band’s growth. “The Internet is our biggest platform to promote and spread the word,” Roy says. “With Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr [and] MySpace, as a band in this age, it's super important to stay connected with our fans. At any moment someone could hit me up on Twitter (@sparksthealex) and I can respond, whether it's about a show or songs. It's super cool to have these tools at our fingertips.
Eyes to the Sun
In October 2008, they self-financed their debut album Eyes To The Sun (via Double Blind Music) and it received radio play in the New England region. Soon, both major and independent record companies were scheduling meetings with the pop rock troupe. “We we're looked at by pretty much every major label,” Roy recalls. “We got wined and dinned and completely hyped up with the idea of signing a 200 thousand dollar contract, but there we're just too many chances. The odds seemed against us as a completely new band. You're expected to sell a shit ton of copies and if you fail, you're done.”
The Notorious STR would sign with Fearless Records in 2009 for the same reasons most of the roster links up with the indie juggernaut. “We can develop as a band, as we are on a label that really cares about their artist,” Roy says. “Not only are they our label, but they're our friends.” Eyes To The Sun was re-issued through Fearless in 2009, and videos were shot for “Autumn” and “We Love Vampires.”
But there wasn’t any time to celebrate. Sparks The Rescue immediately toured all over the country and some of the guys had a difficult time coping with life on the road. Though longtime guitarist Patrick O’Connell left the band (later to be replaced by their friend Mike Naran), the intense touring cycle has affected every individual member in some manner. “We’ve all gone through break ups and what not,” Roy casually mentions. “Being on the road 250 days a year takes its toll on that kind of thing. We have all grown up a bit, we’ve seen so many places and met so many amazing people, you can’t help but let that change you.”
Heartbreak served as the centerpiece for their sophomore set Worst Thing I’ve Been Cursed With. While the album flashes moments of despondence, the enriched pop rock collection is entwined with a hint of pessimisim, some punk-flavored melodicism and mature songwriting that truly showcases their growth as a band. Of the many highlights are the foretelling title track, the perturbing “She’s A Bitch, And I’m A Fool” and the potential radio smash “The Weirdest Way,” which details the difficulty of letting go.
While music has known to be therapeutic, Sparks The Rescue wants Worst Thing I’ve Been Cursed With to ignite something deep within listeners – be it good or bad. “I hope people can take something from the songs whether that’s healing or feeling anger,” Roy admits. “I want people to get goose bumps when certain lines hit.”
Hate it or love it, the underdog is on top. Sparks The Rescue has already won.
- Alex Roy – Lead Vocalist and Keyboardist
- Toby McAllister – Guitarist and Backup Vocalist
- Mike Naran – Guitarist
- Ben Briggs – Bassist
- Nathan Spencer – Drummer
Exclusive Listen: The Weirdest Way by Sparks the Rescue
For more from Bear Frazer follow him on Twitter: @BearFrazer