We had a quick chat with Sarpa Salpa about their exciting new video ‘Smith’ and experiences as a band in Northampton and beyond
Interview by Chris Sharpe
Chris LITM) Hi guys, nice to meet you. What's been happening over the past six months? Update us, please!
Ethan (Bass): “Thanks for having us! We've been super busy over the past six months. We put out a track called ‘Circuits’ at the end of June and have basically not stopped gigging since. We put together a string of 30 dates from May to August dubbed the ‘Summer Circuits Tour’, where we played all across the country at various clubs and festivals including The Big Feastival, Wilkestock & Into The Wilds. We've also been spending some time in the studio, writing and recording future tracks!”
What does Sarpa Salpa mean?
Charlie (Drums): “Sarpa Salpa or Salema Porgi is basically a type of fish that can be used as a hallucinogenic when eaten. The Romans used it as a party drug and we thought that was kind of an interesting concept to go with our indie-dance type sound!”
How did you all meet, and were any of you in previous bands before?
Marcus (Vocals / Synths): “George and I used to be in a band when we were in school but like most bands of that age we were pretty terrible, haha! Charlie and Ethan had both been in bands individually before as well but Sarpa Salpa is the first time we’ve all played together as a band!”
‘Smith’ has a mega-gritty riff that puts the hairs up on my arms! Who have you been listening to of late that may have influenced this track?
George (Guitar): “Thank you! We all listen to a lot of different music but personally the latest Don Broco album inspired me to write the guitar for ‘Smith’. It’s a super chunky album packed with a lot of beefy riffs and rhythms, it’s hard not to be inspired!”
Is there a story behind the song?
Marcus (Vocals / Synths): “I won’t drop any first names, haha, but ‘Smith’ is the story of a brief encounter I had with a girl a few years ago. Basically I met up with this girl I’d been speaking to for a little while, we spent the night together and really got to know each other in quite a short period of time. I then left in the early hours of the morning after chatting all night. And almost immediately after that the relationship was broken off. The last thing I remember was looking over my shoulder and seeing her watching me as I walked down the street!
It left me in quite a confused state and I really wasn’t in a good place, so out came the pen and paper just to get it off my chest and I didn’t touch it for about three years. The boys hit me with the chord progression and it reminded me of that moment and how I felt when I was walking away looking back at her — the image repeated in my mind for a while and I had my chorus!”
What’s the process involved in your songwriting — who is the driving force and how does it start?
George (Guitar / Synths): “We tend to write songs together as a band. Typically I’ll come up with a basic premise for the song musically, whether that be a riff or chord progression and then sit down with Ethan to figure out how it will progress to form the rest of the song.
Once we have that, Charlie will create the beat and we’ll figure out how they will work together! Then we’ll take it to Marcus who will sit down and figure out his parts lyrically and melodically as well as adding any layers of guitars and synths to the mix.”
Looking back on your career so far, there must be times you say to yourselves: “If only we knew that then.” Is there any advice you can offer new bands out there to help them on their way?
Ethan (Bass): “I think one thing we definitely wish we knew when we first started is how important it is to be active online. When we first started as a band we played a lot of shows but never really put anything online. As cool as it is to be able to play live in front of people, social media is another great way to connect with your audience, especially those that live further away from us! Despite how much everyone uses social media, it’s something a lot of bands overlook.”
Have you had any memorable gigs around the UK? And can you recommend any cool venues for those keen bands wanting to tour?
Charlie (Drums): “I think some of our favourite gigs have actually been at our hometown venue of The Roadmender [in Northampton] — the crowds are always great there and you can pack a lot of people in a small space which is always fun!
We love playing at Esquires over in Bedford, too, for similar reasons, both the main stage and Holy Moly’s are sick for intimate shows, which are my personal favourite. Bedford has almost become a second home for us, too. With both our management and producer over there we seem to spend a lot of time there!
What's the scene like in Northampton?
Ethan (Bass): “Northampton actually has a pretty strong music scene at the moment with a lot of great bands coming up. There are too many great bands to mention but Ginger Snaps, Phantom Isle and Century City spring to mind as some of the strongest talent from the town!”
Any gigs you have coming up that we should know about?
George (Guitar / Synths): “We’re actually returning to our hometown for the first time in a while to play The Roadmender on Friday 26 October alongside Blushes and Phantom Isle which we’re buzzing for, our shows there are always fun and the crowd are always on top form!
Before that, though, we’re heading over to Poitiers, France at the start of October to play Festival Les Expressifs which we’re mega excited for!
Nice! What else is lined up for Sarpa Salpa?
Marcus (Vocals / Synths): “We’ve just been back in the studio with our producer Faz from Damage Audio over in Bedford, cooking up some new music that we’re hoping to release soon, so stay tuned for new music from us in early 2019.”
Catch the band live:
Oct 4th-7th, Festival Les Expressifs, Poitiers, France
Oct 25th, The Finsbury, #Blogtoberfest (We Close Tonight)
Oct 26th, Roadmender, Northampton
Oct 31st, The Horn, Saint Albans
Dec 29th, Bedford Esquires, Bedford