Sparks took out first place at the FReeZA Push Start Eastern Metro Regional Final on October 23 in Camberwell. They will join eight other regional final winners to play at the FReeZA Push Start Grand Final to be held at Melbourne’s Moomba Festival on Friday 11 March, 2016.
Hi guys, what’s the name of your band, who’s in it and where are you guys from?
We’re SPARKS – Liam Bell on guitar, Michael D’Emilio on keys and Dylan Knur (that’s me!) on violin. We play acoustic pop heavily featuring three part vocal harmonies. We’re from the Yarra Ranges, but we generally gig around Melbourne’s eastern suburbs and in the Melbourne CBD.
Briefly tell us the story behind your band and how long you’ve been making music and writing songs?
We’ve known each other for a few years, we all went to Billanook College together. Liam and Michael have been friends since they started there, and they were playing music together under the extremely innovative name ‘Liam & Michael’ well before SPARKS was formed. I happened to be playing in another band at one of their gigs, and they were singing a lesser known Coldplay song backstage – I joined in with some improvised harmony and they seemed surprised that anyone else knew the song. Following that was a long period of musical flirting, after which they invited me to guest star in a gig they had coming up, and after it turned out well we had a bit of a talk and decided that we’d be a band, if only we could think of a better name than ‘Liam, Michael & Dylan.’ That was September of last year, so we’ve been at it for over a year now.
What are your band’s musical influences? Have they evolved from when you guys first started out?
We all love Coldplay, but aside from that we’ve got pretty diverse influences. I think my writing for this band is heavily influenced by The Chilli Peppers, Keane and Regina Spektor, but I know Liam’s songs draw a lot from Motown music. I can’t speak much for the others, but my influences have only changed this year insofar as I’ve been listening to a lot of jazz – that’s had some impact on my writing, but it certainly hasn’t dramatically altered it.
Which Regional Final did you win, and how was the FReeZA Push Start competition experience for you guys?
We were the winners of the Eastern Metropolitan finals! These competitions have been great, from our perspective. For us they’re just a whole load of gigs in nice venues with nice sound setups and audiences who’ve been really positive, and at the end we get feedback which helps us improve and occasionally prizes… What’s not to love?
You’ll now be battling it out with eight other bands at the Grand Final at Melbourne’s Moomba Festival 2016 for a pretty sweet prize pack. Which prize excites you most and why?
The prizes are just crazy exciting – a feature article on Beat Magazine certainly wouldn’t go astray… Purely for the thrill of being able to wear my own band’s t-shirt, I think I’m gonna select the t-shirt-printing prize, but they all sound amazing.
What were your favourite songs or albums for 2015? What music are you most looking forward to next year?
Albumwise, we’ve all loved The Bean Project’s EP – they’re a guitar/French horn duo from our area that have been doing great things this year. My favourite Melbourne band Playwrite just released their debut album Cathedrals and it’s really excellent. Liam’s loved Philander, by Glen Hansard, and Sam Smith’s album In The Lonely Hour. I’ve totally forgotten what happened in the first half of the year already (was Thom Yorke’s Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes this year or last?), but I’ve got to finish off by recommending Beruit’s Gibraltar as something catchy to annoy your friends with.
Where have you performed? What are your favourite shows to play at?
We’ve played a few different settings – the Mt Dandenong pub earlier in the year, the Belgrave Buskers Festival, a few community events in Mooroolbark, and the 23 Café in Ringwood, just to name a few. More recently, we played at Coffeehead in Camberwell in support of Ethan Conway (he’s been on The Voice!). We don’t really dislike any venues, but we won’t deny that we love to have a full PA setup and a nice room (and a sound guy), so the Battle of the Bands venues have been great for that.
If you had unlimited amounts of money, what would be your dream gig or tour? Where would it be, who would be playing, etc?
We’d absolutely hire out as reverberant a space as we could (a cathedral, maybe?) and see just how spacious we’d sound. We would somehow have convinced Coldplay to be our support act. Mumford and Sons would team up with Crowded House to provide sweet foyer tunes (do cathedrals even have foyers?), while Brian Wilson, our mix engineer, would have also rewritten our vocal harmonies with that sweet, sweet Beach Boys sparkle.
What’s the plan for your band in 2016, what will you be doing or working on?
We don’t want to reveal too much, but there’s an EP in the works… More info on that to come. Liam and Michael are going into year 12 next year so they’ll be busy being studious, but I’m sure we’ll still find the time to gig every now and then. Either way, we’ll certainly be writing a lot of new material on top of the backlog of songs that we’re playing with now!
Where can fans find out more about you and upcoming shows?
Our Facebook is our central page, so if you like us there you’ll see all the updates: www.facebook.com/SPARKStheBand. We’re also on Soundcloud at soundcloud.com/sparks-music-2, and Youtube here www.youtube.com/channel/UCEQu2LYLPl5mzguVf0BcDQQ.
For more information about the FReeZA Push Start competition, click here.