Track By Track: Sparrow And The Workshop - Murderopolis

Jill O’Sullivan (vocals, guitar) talks us through the record, track by track.

Glaswegian trio Sparrow & The Workshop will release their new album ‘Murderopolis’ on 27th May, through Song By Toad Records. Their third full-length, it’s preceded by single ‘Shock Shock’ and follows on from 2010’s ‘Crystals Fall’ and 2011’s ‘Spitting Daggers’.

Prior to its release next week, Jill O’Sullivan (vocals, guitar) talks us through the record, track by track - from opener ‘Valley Of Death’ to the closing notes of ‘Autumn To Winter’. We’ve also an exclusive stream, so fans can have a sneak preview; check it out below.

Valley Of Death
It took us while to get this track together arrangement-wise. I originally wrote it for just acoustic guitar and voice but when we demo’d up the tracks as a band and sent them to Iain, he was mega keen on this and persuaded us to keep working on it. Nick casually mentioned string-muting to me, which I had not done before, and I tried it and it really made sense and sort of fell more in tune with Gregor’s drums. The bass solo in the middle-eight is pretty great, Nick’s great for a melodic bass line.

I play my solo parts on a Schecter Hellcat - one of the guitars Robert Smith used (it’s a baritone guitar). It has such a great moody sound and Paul Savage introduced me to it when I was saying how much I loved Faith. Gregor also does that sort of demonic chanting at the beginning, originally that chant was the root of the song but it became an addition as the song developed in practice. I think we were trying to make that part hypnotic and, since Nick is using his basstard on this song, it breaks open up for the chorus. It’s a very cathartic song to play live.

One of my personal favorite tracks that we’ve written, it’s in no rush to impress and there’s a lot of space on the song. The night I started writing it I was crossing the bridge over the Clyde and I remember noticing how dark and deep the water looked that night. Maybe that was the impetus. Who knows.

Shock Shock
This was one of the first songs we wrote for this album, I play my guitar with my Ring Thing pedal so there’s a subtle oscillating octave thing happening. I wanted it to sound artificially bright and slightly disorienting, almost like looking at your hands under water.

Water Won’t Fall
I again use the ring thing on this song, but I’m using it with a sort of Organ effect. I wanted it to sound wobbly and slightly out of tune, you know, slightly worried. Nick re-wrote his bass line for this track the night before we recorded it to give it space, it’s one of the great things about working with Paul (Savage), he’s got a good sense of structure and pace and noticed that the original bass line was crowding the track. I’m glad Nick took his suggestion on board because the bass line he ended up writing is clever and really suits the mood of the track. Gregor is hitting the rims a lot on this, which I think is also a really nice touch, and his harmonies are really beautiful.

This song was a lot of fun to write. I think Gregor and Nick had a lot of fun with this. It started as a jam that had a guitar line we started singing along to without words. As the song developed it still didn’t have words but we decided to leave it that way because we thought it was like a horn section. The opera bits were just me and Gregor warming up our vocals but Paul hit record from the beginning so they ended up on the track because we started missing them when they were edited out.

The Faster You Spin
This is a sort of tongue-in-cheek song that is intentionally bombastic and slightly glam. As the song goes along we sort of unravel and get wilder. I think we wanted to spin out of control and lose the plot a bit. The vocal at the very beginning was meant to be played on guitar and I only sang it as a ghost track so Gregor and Nick knew when to come in. We kept the ghost vocal because it sounded creepier than the guitar part.

Avalanche Of Lust
This is our disco track (at least as disco as we get). It was one of the last songs we wrote before going in to record the album and I think we were feeling a bit playful. Gregor breaks out his Beast Off Piste (a synth bass he hits with his drum stick) and Nick’s playing a soulful bass-line and it sort of cruises along the way we imagine the Curiosity rover does on Mars, a little lonely, a little horny.

Flower Bombs
This is the song that birthed a thousand songs. Well, not a thousand, maybe seven. It was the first idea we had for the album but we struggled with it and every time we started playing it in practice it would spark and idea in somebody and then a new part would develop, whether it was a vocal melody, a drum beat or a bass line. I got a lot of song ideas from the riff (that ended up being the chorus in this song). I think it took us a whole albums worth of songs for this one to finally click.

The Glue That Binds Us
Angst. This is all about angst and shedding it.

Autumn To Winter
We felt that this was a perfect ending to the album. It kind of contains a lot of sentiments in other songs but has a somewhat peaceful and hopeful resolution. Maybe? It’s really really hard to describe what inspires songs or how we go about making them, a lot of it is instinctual, just about feeling things out, drawing on whatever mood we’re in at a particular period in time. Nonetheless, I hope this track-by-track goes some way towards explaining how we wrote ‘Murderopolis’. We hope you enjoy the album.

Sparrow & The Workshop’s new album ‘Murderopolis’ will be released on 27th May via Song By Toad.