Northampton quartet Sarpa Salpa have been slaying the Midlands with their infectious party indie anthems for the past two years, and celebrate another milestone today with the release of their third single, ‘Circuits’. New Boots asked them all about it, and about the whirlwind build-up.
Can you give us a quick run down of how and why and where you got together?
Ethan: Well Marcus & George had previously played together in another band, so they started Sarpa as a new project with a new sound/image to their previous outing. Then they snared Charlie shortly after a chat at a pub one day. I had met George through a very short lived band/project that I think that did two practices and one meal out before it fell apart. Then a month or two later saw him looking for a bassist again, I drop him a message and here we are! This was all around the last month or two of 2015.
In case there’s anyone left who doesn’t know SS, can you briefly sum yourselves up in a nice soundbite? Or whats maybe better is what’s the best way you’ve seen yourself described in publicity material…?
Marcus: That’s such a hard question, one we always have trouble answering, I think the answer is Indie Pop! Or pop? Or alternative pop? We don’t know!! People say all sorts, we have been told we remind people of Sticky Fingers, Kasabian & Red Hot Chilli Peppers. I don’t even like some of those bands… I even once was told ‘Craig David’? So we just don’t know anymore! In summary: we are four guys trying to not write songs that sound the same as each other, and as different as other musicians music as possible! If you want to find out what that sounds like, come and hear it for yourself .
It’s been a whirlwind couple of years for you. Personal highlight please.
Charlie: There have been so many amazing moments we’ve all shared as a band, but our recent trip to MaNo Festival in Germany definitely stands out for me! The love we were shown over in Marburg was like nothing I’ve ever experienced before, although with the amount of beer we all washed down, I’m honestly surprised we remember a thing!
‘She Never Lies’ was a real moment for you. Is that single release last autumn when it all began to click for you, or has something else felt more significant?
George: ‘She Never Lies’ was definitely a stand out moment for us, It feels like a turning point for the band. Although we had been a band for a little while when we recorded it, it was a bit of a new beginning for us. We’d just got a manager and started recording with a new producer so it kind of felt like the beginning of Sarpa Salpa. We still have a long way to go though and a lot more we all want to achieve
Tell us about ‘Circuits’.
Marcus: ‘Circuits’ got its name from thinking about how humans are wired up. ‘Circuits’ is a mash up of a cry for help from addiction, and a change in character in relationships! The classic combo!! I wrote the lyrics when I was literally hiding by the bin area in work smoking a cigarette, hiding from people who care for me and wouldn’t want to see me doing that or knowing I do it! In that moment I almost looked at myself and thought “what am I doing?” It all became so pathetic, hiding alone in a stinking pen of beer bottles and soggy cardboard just so I can breath in some burnt leaves? So I wrote the first line, and like my anger, the lyrics just kept flowing out of me. “And again and again and again and again and again and again” I remember standing typing that and the repetitive tapping of the same keys over and over very much summed up the relentless rut I was in!
The chorus very much sums up relationships from a brief gaze; people sometimes try and change their partners, for selfish reasons, for good reasons, whatever the reason, there may not even be a reason. People can just sometimes morph into new people over time, new interests, new hobbies, change of politics or fashion! The chorus is just one large chant of uncertainty, disguised in confidence! “Something has changed, and I think it’s you.” Or is it me? Later in the song the lyrics develop into “I think it’s me”.
I took these separately written concepts to a rehearsal one evening. Upon my arrival George said “I’ve got a new riff”. It all took shape very quickly, especially when the bass and drums teamed up, the words were no longer just text on a screen, they were melodies flying around in my head! Circuits was born
You filled the small room at the Roadmender twice in 6 months. What’s the formula, that you might want to share, for making this happen? “Be nice guys with sweet tunes and great management” would be our guess…
Ethan: I think it’s a combination of a few things. Firstly our sound is quite pop-orientated. so it’s easy to bob along to. We also have been lucky to meet some great bands, who very kindly played with us! I also like to think that we put on a good little show these days. Because of the amount of gigs we have done it really has started to come quite naturally to us now, and we can enjoy it a little more instead of worrying about remembering the parts. If the band are having fun there is a good chance the audience will do too.
And as you mentioned since we picked up our manager Kev in August last year he’s really helped push us and keep us focused. He’s always the first to give us honest criticism and point out things we could improve! He also introduced us to our producer Faz, who really helped nail the sounds and idea’s we had in our head! So I guess I would say it’s a mixture of luck and a tonne of hard luck at the end of the day. But always be nice to people, that goes without saying!
You play lots of shows, all across the Midlands. What’s your favourite place to play outside of Northants?
Marcus: I do like The Horn in St. Albans, that’s got a really nice PA system and always sounds crisp! And also Club 85 in Hitchin – there are these great, gigantic, colourful, glow-in-the-dark stars on the ceiling above the stage and I think that’s awesome when you have the crowd in front of you and space above your head! Of course Esquires in Bedford, that has become a second home to us in recent months! Also any festival stage! The feel of that plasticity wooden-ish material gets me so excited! SUMMER TIME SHOWS!! Except for recently at a festival when the stage was so wonky it looked like a ship mid-sinking, that show was cancelled funny enough!! Haha.
Best and worst thing about your own scene here in ShoeTown.
Charlie: The best thing about our ShoeTown scene has to be all of the people who attend local shows, and spread the word about small bands to their friends and families! The worst thing about our ShoeTown scene is the lack of venues that are playable for local bands, it just seems to be the same gigs at the same 3 venues every week!
What are you grooving to currently?
Charlie: I’ve been really in to Unknown Mortal Orchestra’s latest album Sex and Food, it’s one of those albums that you find yourself listening to 4 to 5 times a day! George has recently introduced me to a band called Porches also, and they have become my synth-caked guilty pleasure.
You’ve got Twinfest coming up, but what else can we expect from the second half of 2018?
George: We’re hoping to be putting out another new single and potentially an EP at the end of the year. We’re also playing a whole bunch of cool festivals like Rocked Up Hootenanny, so there’s a lot to look forward to!
Circuits is out today from the usual digital platforms
Sarpa Salpa selected live dates
June 22nd – The Lab, Northampton
June 23rd – The Music Barn Festival, Kettering
July 6th – Daxtonbury Festival, Podington
July 26th – The Guildhall, Northampton [Twinfest]
August 11th – Woodfest, Irchester Country Park
September 8th – Rocked Up Hootenany, Rockingham