Thursday, December 21, 2017

A Peverett Phile Christmas 9 Pheaturing Sparks

Hey, kids, welcome to A Peverett Phile Christmas 9... how are you? Are you ready for Christmas? Make it through the holidays by doing a shot anytime a Christmas song comes on. Avoid drinking too much at the office Christmas party by drinking too much before the office Christmas party.
It's hard enough to be single at the holidays, but this woman's family made sure everyone in their address book knew her relationship status. Emily Seawright's family Christmas card is going viral after she shared a photo of the fam-tastic photo on Twitter. Pictured are: 1 set of parents, holding up a sign that says "Excited," one who are "engaged," another who are "expecting," and finally... Emily. Holding a sign that says, simply, "Emily." It's like an especially cruel version of a Kardashian Kristmas.

The Seawrights apparently couldn't come up with another way to sum up their daughter's status in one festive E-word. Elegant? Nah. Eco-friendly? Too political. Instead, they settled on the word that seems to convey everything and nothing... just Emily's name. The photo has been retweeted thousands of times on Twitter, with fans weighing in to empathize. Hey, another E word! Happy Holidays to all the Emilys out there.
A 5-year-old boy in Mississippi just learned about the "Grinch Who Stole Christmas," and he decided nothing of the sort was going to happen on his watch. According to "People," TyLon Pittman called 911 to ask police to stop the Grinch. In a rare Christmas miracle, the police actually did it. “Our dispatcher posted a status on Facebook that she had received a call from a little boy... and he told her he thought the Grinch was going to be coming to steal his Christmas,” local police officer Lauren Develle told the "Clarion Ledger." “I asked her to send me his address.” Develle then went to TyLon's house to let him know that the police wouldn't let the Grinch anywhere near his Christmas. If the Grinch did come, TyLon told police he had no qualms about where to send him. “I want y’all to come back to my house and take him to jail,” he said. “The Grinch is not going to come steal your Christmas. I won’t let that happen,” promised the officer. The police force then took it one step further, inviting TyLon into the station to let him lock the Grinch behind bars.
Former White House press secretary Sean Spicer posted an Instagram on Tuesday of a copy of Charles Dickens' classic "A Christmas Carol." But for some reason, he captioned the picture, "FDRs book of Christmas Carols."

See? This makes no sense. Even if Spicer didn't know that "A Christmas Carol" is the well-known story of Ebenezer Scrooge, he'd have to notice that it was very clearly not written by Franklin D. Roosevelt. Is he… kidding? Being silly? Somehow, I think not. His sense of humor doesn't seem sharp enough for that kind of absurd joke. Spicer will definitely claim it was a joke and/or delete it, but this is just another flub by a man known for embarrassing himself. Like, for example, that time he declared vehemently that Trump's inauguration was the most well-attended ever. It wasn't. But holidays are not kind to Sean Spicer in general. Remember when he was the Easter bunny?
Following the smashing success (ha) of the Halloween hats, Donald Trump is selling MAGA ("Make America Great Again") Christmas hats. Check it out...
These red hats look almost the same as the regular red caps, with the exception of a string of lights embroidered on the letters of the front, and the words "Merry Christmas" printed on the back. Oh, and they cost $45, which is an 80 percent increase from the regular $25 MAGA hats. Yup, nothing like the sanctity of Christmas except the commercialization of it. Jesus would be proud. The official GOP Twitter account tweeted the new hats, with the words "Make Christmas Great Again." Okay, but come on... when has Christmas not been great? That's like saying "Make Candy Great Again." The GOP's advertisement for the hat wasn't met with a lot of holiday cheer on Twitter. It did get some guffaws, though. 
How well do you know Santa's reindeer, really??? You are obviously familiar with Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen. And of course everyone knows the most famous reindeer of all, the Beyoncé of the group, Rudolph. But are you as familiar with these reindeer as you thought you were? Maybe not. Because someone named Cat Reynolds on Twitter just presented a pretty solid theory that all of these reindeer are not quite who you thought they were.

Reynolds' revelation about reindeer has been shared nearly 210,,000 since the 12th of December. It's a Christmas miracle!!!!!  It's not a miracle though... it's actually a fact! Scientists have confirmed that male reindeer shed their antlers in early December when the mating season is over and they no longer need to impress female reindeer with those weird curly fries on their heads. Female reindeer, on the other hand, sport antlers all winter. Of course, some haters tried to claim none of this matters because Santa isn't real????? EXCUSE ME?! But then this guy proposed an alternate theory...

Either way, it sure makes you think about Rudolph pretty differently. Merry Christmas!
Okay, I have to talk about this... Disney, the greatest company to work for in the world, recently added Donald Trump to their Hall of Presidents attraction, and photos of the bizarre animatronic statue have been all over the Internet this week because it is so, so, so, so, so, sooooooo creepy and weird. 

More like stat-EW amiright?! The Internet has many opinions on who and what the statue resembles. But most agree that it does not look much like the real thing (although it's almost as scary). But the most common theory on Twitter is that the statue bears a striking similarity to Hillary Rodham Clinton. And why would Disney erect (tee hee) a Trump statue that looks like Hillary Clinton???? That reason is pretty obvious. This is something we all have to deal with right now. Thankfully there are a lot of cookies around to help us get through these difficult times. 
Hey, it's a few days til Christmas... instead of writing this blog I should be drinking egg nog, wrapping presents and listening to this album...

Um,,,... maybe not. Hey, if you are looking for Star Wars toys for your kids for Christmas Toys "R" Us is having a good sale. 

 Cool, right? So, I just found out that Taylor Momson who played Cindy Lou Who in How the Grinch Stole Christmas is the lead singer of the band The Pretty Reckless. Here's a pic of her now. Mind. Blown.

Wow. Anyway, moving on... So, if you don't know where to hang mistletoe let me help you, guys.

Actually, that's a pretty good idea. Ha! Do you remember the Star Wars Holiday Special? Well, word is they want to update it to make it better and I have an exclusive screen shot from it.

Hahahahahaha!!! I'm cracking myself up! There's one Christmas TV special I don't like and that's "Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer," but there's one Misfit toy in it I do like...

That's so great! And there's one scene in the show I like as well...

So cool. So, I was supposed to Google "Santa's elves" earlier and instead I Googled "Santas's Elvis" and this is what I got...

Huh huh. If I had a TARDIS I would want to to Port Jefferson, New York and see my family back then. Instead I'll probably end up going too far back and seeing this parade...

Yep, that's really Port Jeff. If you are still looking to get something for your kid for Christmas how about this new toy?

It looks fun! Did you see the Trump's Christmas card?

Hahahaha. Okay, I have to mention this... today is the 80th anniversary of the animated film Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. If the movie came out today in 2017 Snow White would look like this...

That's not too bad actually. Hey, it's Thursday so you know what that means...

An Overton, Lancashire couple, Gary and Angela Williams, are in negotiations with potential buyers after stumbling across a valuable piece of ambergris during a stroll on the beach. Ambergris, otherwise known as whale vomit, is used by perfumers to make scents last longer and can fetch very high prices because of its rarity. The 1.57kg lump of the substance found by the couple could be worth around £50,000 ($70,000). Ambergris is secreted in the bile duct and intestines of sperm whales and is thought to be produced to ease the passage of hard, sharp objects that the whale might have eaten. And, no, it doesn't smell great. Gary Williams said it has a distinctive scent, "like a cross between squid and farmyard manure.”

If you spot the Mindphuck let me know. Okay, it's time to talk football with my good friend Jeff.

Me: Hey, Jeff, welcome to the Phile for this Christmas entry. So, before we start talking football, I have to ask you if you saw The Last Jedi. If so, what did you think? If you didn't I hope no one spoiled it for you.

Jeff: As always, it's great to be back on the Phile. Even though I said I probably wouldn't get to see The Last Jedi anytime soon, turns out I lied. I saw it on Saturday. There were parts about it I loved, there were parts I wasn't so thrilled about. To me it was an average movie, but not up to the standards of a Star Wars movie. I was lucky to avoid all spoilers before seeing it! What did you think of it?

Me: I think they forgot there was gonna be another episode... they seemed to wrap everything up. But I liked it. Okay, so, let's talk about your Steelers... After a 69-yard reception to rookie WR JuJu Smith-Schuster, everything looked to be falling into place for the Steelers as Ben Roethlisberger was on his way to yet another 4th quarter game winning drive when suddenly everything fell apart. First the whole Jesse James catch, no-catch fiasco cost the Steelers a sure touchdown but two plays after that, in heartbreaking fashion, Ben Roethlisberger threw a game-ending interception in the end zone, giving the Patriots a 27-24 win. You must of been at the edge of your seat, am I right? I thought for sure the Steelers were gonna win.

Jeff: To be honest I was pacing back and forth. I was sitting on my bed until they broke huddle then I  got really close to the TV and started pacing. I was screaming at the TV when Smith-Schuester caught the pass. And when James caught the pass I was jumping up and down. I started jumping up and down for a much different reason moments later. The Steelers should have won.

Me: Did you see following the loss, Steelers fans turned to Twitter to voice their anger at their quarterback by attacking a guy named Ben Roethenberg. Unfortunately for Steelers fans, Ben Roethbenberg is a freelance writer for the "New York Times," not the starting quarterback for their team. Haha. Check it out...

Me: That was just a part of it.

Jeff: That's just sad. Take a moment and look at who you are tweeting to! That's an embarrassment to Steeler nation worse than the interception in the endzone!

Me: Did you see that Colin Kaepernick says he wants in on buying the Carolina Panthers? I didn't know they were up for sale. Do you think he'll buy them, or be part owner, Jeff?

Jeff: I don't know that I saw he wants to buy the team, but I did see that P. Diddy and Steph Curry want to buy the team so that Kap can be their quarterback. Although Carolina already has a good quarterback in Cam Newton.

Me: Any other NFL news? A bunch of teams are off to the playoffs. Not the Giants though sadly.

Jeff: Yup. A few times clinched playoff berths, including Jacksonville making it for the first time in 10 years! Steelers were already in though. All that and the Giants won't even secure the number 1 draft pick as the Browns still haven't won a game this season. Other news include the injury to Antonio Brown will miss the rest of the regular season and possibly a playoff game.

Me: So, Disney has taken over another team...

Me: I like this one... what do you think?

Jeff: That's right up there with my favorite Disney logos. I like it! It just needs to read "YOHO YOHO A Pirate's Life For Me" above it!

Me: Okay, so, both our teams lost over the weekend... how did we do, Jeff?

Jeff: I don't think you want to know how we did this week. I went 2-0 with the Steeler loss and you went 0-2 with a Giants loss. My lead grows!

Me: Ugh! Let's pick for this week... I say Eagles by three and Falcons by 6. What do you say?

Jeff: I say Rams by 7 and Panthers by 5.

Me: Okay, well, have a good Christmas, Jeff. I'll see you back here next Thursday for the last entry of 2017. Wow! That's crazy. Have a good one.

Jeff: Merry Christmas, Jason. And Merry Christmas to the readers as well. See you next week!

Hmmm... okay, so, another friend of the Phile wanted to come on here and say something nice. He's a singer, patriot and renaissance man. You know what time it is...

Good evening, pluckers. Sometimes, the only thing you can do is let someone know that you're there for them. In spite of time and distance between old friends, keeping someone in your heart and on your mind... letting them know that you're with them through tough times could mean the world to them. Pick up the phone, send them a letter, a text, an email... tell them that they're on your mind and in your heart. Don't let them become a distant memory just because you're busy or in fear that too much time has passed since you last spoke. Love and friendship are one in the same... Friends are the family you choose... treasure and cherish them. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to one and all... never forget to say I love you. Don't wait until you're standing over someone's grave to tell them how you feel.

Bernard Law 
November 4th, 1931 — December 20th, 2017
Your elevator is ready, sir. Going down?

To demonstrate that one could indeed do something more tone-deaf than throwing a fancy lawn party to celebrate the passage of a bill that will lead to suffering for many people, President Trump decided to make a joke about the congressman who got shot. In June, Rep. Steve Scalise was shot in the hip at a baseball practice with his fellow congressmen in Virginia. His injuries were life-threatening, and spent weeks in the Intensive Care Unit. But look on the bright side... my dude got thinner! Trump joked that getting shot is "a hell of a way to lose weight," which is funny, I guess? According to "Washington Post" reporter Paul Kane, the line is a joke that Scalise has been making in private... so it's not even original material. Of all his crimes and character flaws, the fact that he is a JOKE THIEF is truly beyond the pale. This joke is not only a gas for Rep. Scalise, but also the hundreds of victims of gun violence in America. LOL! Perhaps the notoriously chauvinistic isn't pushing any meaningful gun violence prevention programs because he wants people to get shot so we can all be as svelte as Steve Scalise.

The 72nd book to be pheatured in the Phile's Book Club is...

Phile Alum and author Job Korkis will be a guest on the Phile in a few weeks. And now from the home office in Port Jefferson, New York, here is...

Top Phive Things Being Said By The Hall Of Presidents' Animatronic Trump
5. Just like the real Trump, I don't have a heart or a brain!
4. Strangely, I look way more human than the actual Donald Trump!
3. If I could only tweet with these damn rubber fingers of mine!
2. Be sure to check out the "Make America Great" hat with Mickey ears in the gift shop!
And the number one thing being said by the Hall of Presidents' animatronic Trump is...
1. I could shoot somebody on main Street, U.S.A. and not lose any voters!

Caroling is proof you're not even safe from Christmas music inside your own home.

This is cool... today's pheatured guests are Sparks are an American pop and rock band formed in Los Angeles in 1972 by brothers Ron and Russell Mael. Their latest album "Hippopotamus" is available on iTunes and on Amazon. Please welcome to the Phile... Sparks!

Me: Ron, Russell, welcome to the Phile for this Christmas entry? How are you?

Ron: Good. Thank you.

Russell: It's a pleasure.

Me: I didn't know you were brothers til I read your bio so I am glad I won't ask you how long you have known each other. Haha. I love the new album "Hippopotamus." I love how the album opens with the sweet song "Probably Nothing." Did you plan to have a short intro like that?

Ron: It wasn't the first song written for the album but for that song we kinda worked backwards and tried to figure out what is the vignette that goes around that. I particularly like that track because it's a sort of snap shot in time of an event and you're not exactly sure of what happens before or what happens afterwards but I like that thing where there isn't a completeness all the time to something. 

Me: So, was the song written to be just about a minute long?

Ron: It was always that length it just seemed perfect at the length that it was but as far as starting the album we weren't sure about that because we wanted to kind of hit people over the head at the beginning too and it's the kind of song that before hitting them over the head they have to sit through a little bit softer for a minute and a half. It seemed to just set the right tone and ads more drama to the whole album and it also in a certain way makes the whole album seem as one as if that track is like one book end to the entire album.

Me: And then it goes into a song about a sex position... "Missionary Position." That song is so catchy. What made you guys write a song like that?

Russell: It seems that Ron has been writing the lyric to these but from a distance and having to sing them. There's a large part in there where there are unusual situations that are not normally treated in popular music or there are situations that are treated in a fresh or unexpected kind of way so it sort of seems to me that if we have to generalize it in some the way the lyrics sort of have that quality often times. In a song like "Missionary Position" it's kind of praising something that has not really an ongoing debate about... it's not even a topic of discussion. To bring that up as an issue even it's like someone said missionary position is bad so we wrote a song in defense of the try and the true when no one really asked of there was a problem with it.

Ron: I do think one kind of goal as a lyricist is to take just an ordinary situation and try to frame it in ways that haven't been framed before and try to do it in a non cliche sort of way. From our standpoint it isn't trying to be clever it's just trying to be interesting because it's really infuriating for us to hear songs where things are expressed the way they have always been expressed over and over again. The music is the only thing that is the most important thing to us but it seems like a blown opportunity to not have the lyrics reflecting the ambition of the music.

Me: Before you guys were known as Sparks, you had a different name... and you were signed on Bearsville, the same label as Foghat. What was it like back then?

Ron: When we first started we were called Half-Nelson and the Half-Nelson album didn't do all that well Albert Grossman thought it was a branding issue that Half-Nelson was not the kid of brand name that could possibly be commercial so he made the suggestion to rename the band. Because we were so funny somehow to him he wanted to call is Sparks Brothers. We hated that but he was a pretty powerful person so we said how about we just take the Sparks part which is not good or bad name, just a name. He went along with it and the renting didn't really help any.

Me: Do you say Ron has the ideas well developed by the time they come to you, Russell, or do you shape the way they are gonna be as well?

Russell: Well, they normally come fully formed. There maybe one instance where I thought Ron had written a really amazing melody and song and we recorded it and we didn't capture how beautiful and bittersweet the melody was, I suggested not changing one word but just redoing it. It's hard to tell when we put in all the effort to write a set of lyrics and then to have me say I think it does not live up to the promise of what the music was. That was the case of "When Do I Get To Sing 'My Way'?" because it wasn't originally called that. The song was so good and somehow was being diminished slightly by another lyric that had been written so Ron then completely rebranded. To my credit, obviously I didn't do any of the work, but the song was really successful, whether you judge to commercially successful which really captures the melonic content of those lyrics.

Ron: We use the studio for one tool for writing and Russell is involved in that sense. A lot of times the songs are really formed and we bring them in a record them but sometimes we just record some tracks and we're always trying to collect new sounds. Sometimes a sound could be a spur to the thinking of that the song could be so sometimes there's not a big operation between the studio and the writing.

Me: When you write, Ron, where and how does that happen?

Ron: I have a very, very, very primitive set up in my place and I actually finally switched to digital recording because I was using cassettes. I brought a few machines because I knew they were got to discontinue them. They're really easy to use and quick and I don't really like to fiddle around with stuff. The last one conked out so I've done digitally. I have a keyboard and sometimes an acoustic guitar and I make crude demos, sometimes with my crude singing just enough to remember the song really. We kind of develop it and Russell sings it the way it should be sung. Some of the songs on the album were done in that sort of traditional way, and sometimes they are written by comity somehow. It's a rarer thing now unfortunately but that does happen.

Me: I have to ask you about the some "What the Hell is it This Time?" What the hell is what?

Ron: That song was another case of coming up with a title rather than coming up with the whole concept. In a way it would sound like a bitter song, like you were angry and hostile but not in a very interesting kind of way. It was challenging that phrase in some kind of direction where it became not quote as direct and so having an angry god that was sort of chastising people that had less then important requests of him was the point of the song. If you just say "what the hell is it this time?" going from us it doesn't sound like the right character of a song. A directed anger that was too direct I guess so it was replaced in another way.

Me: When you get to the studio how do you guys work? Ron works on the music and you, Russell, work on the vocals?

Russell: It's all done pretty separately. I'm engineering all this stuff that Ron's playing and he just continues to play things until we find the right thing and we might listen to it the next day and say what we need to change from the previous day. It's kinda a lengthy process. Also, it's only one person playing and having to build up the tracks is timing consuming so we just kinda go at it methodically and do it that way. At some point early on once we think that there might be a little something there sing a dummy vocal to it because without the vocal in the track sometimes we can't tell what we have. The flip side of having a dummy vocal is sometimes it takes us a long time to record each song because of the process that we get engrained with that dummy vocal that starts to sound like the real lyrics. Then we go oh, no, we now have to change those lyrics which we have gotten used to hearing over and over and over and anything different now is not gonna sound as good as me singing nonsense words. It's all part of the progress so eventually the real lyrics I'll sing. If it needs harmonies or stacking up the vocals more I'll start doing that whole process.

Me: You play all the instruments, Ron? I thought you just played keyboards. That's pretty cool.

Ron: We'll put real drums and guitar on quite a few of the tracks on the albums. Those are the live instruments and we have a drummer who has played with us a long time... Steven Nistor, who lives in Detroit now so we would send him things and either have a dummy drum that would have a generic sound which we would have no idea and just let him add something. He would send files to us. Then there's live guitar on it but the rest of the instruments are done with a lot of sound libraries.

Me: You guys must put a lot of thought into these songs and they are not put together all willy-nilly, am I right?

Russell: Yeah, we are pretty brutal chopping up the recordings whatever it needs, if it needs something after we worked on it for two weeks we'll think it might be cooler to start with the bridge that we have or whatever section that happened later. We chop things up and shove them around. We like to work that way where in the past doing that type of stuff after the fact was more difficult but now that's the way we can work with. With computer stuff to work with it makes it a lot easier.

Me: You have a song called "Edith Pilaf (Said It Better Than Me)," on the new album. At first I thought the song was about Edith Blyton. Hahaha. I'm an idiot. Anyway, what is that song about and who is she?

Ron: That song is about a guy whose life is empty and is envious of Piaf who was a French singer, and got to sing and didn't get to regret anything, and he is that position of somebody that is remorseful that he doesn't have anything to regret and he and can't sing that song because he just has no richness in his life to even be able to regret things that he should be things that he should regret. So, its just sort of playing with that.

Me: Why a French singer? Haha. None of your songs are autobiographical, right? They are all about other people and stories?

Ron: In a direct sense, yeah. I think everything we do is autobiographical in this sensibility sort of way that people could see what we are like just as an overall kind of view of things but we don't feel that there's a place in our sings for talking about specific issues. So we think it's really autobiographical safari as being able to pinpoint our kind of personalities and view of things but it's kinda too easy for us. It could be done in a good way like "When Do I Get To Sing 'My Way'?" where it's a song about somebody looking back at his whole life... in general those confessional songs are too was unless it's done really, really well so it's more of a bleep but I think it reveals that there is a lot revealed about us.

Me: I have to talk about the new album's title track... "Hippopotamus" which mentions Hieronymus Bosch who my favorite singer Graham Parker once wrote about. What were you thinking when you wrote that song? Why that animal?

Ron: Well, this was another one working from the title because we had the music from that song which was a song that even we thought sounded unusual which takes some doing. It seemed like it needed the type of subject matter that would not be of there tried and true and the sound of that word kind of popped up and so we then tried to figure out that would a song called "Hippopotamus" be about. It just seemed right to write a surreal picture of these separate little events or seemingly random things that are found by a guy and his swimming pool that have no relation to each other except that that they rhyme. There's no point to the whole thing but it's a dark nursery rhyme kinda song. So, it was working backwards from the title that was a concept of a swimming pool and finding the hippopotamus that was working the other way.

Me: Don't take this the wrong way but there's a lot of repetition in your songs... with the same lyrics over and over again. Is there a reason for that and Russell, do you like singing those type of songs? 

Russell: A lot of it depends on the backing. Like with "My Baby's Taking Me Home" which is like the zenith of repetition, a lot of that comes from the variety of the arrangement where each cycle of that song gives me room to be able to repeat a line over and over. On "Hippopotamus" we take each melody and it seems like each cycle of that of that there's a little bit of some additional harmony parts that happen one time so we can afford in our minds to have that kind of repetition but knowing it needs to have some kind of punctuation's along the way to kinda keep it not being completely monotonous whereas its always a challenge. A lot of those parts come to me winging it adding those punctuation bits or adding extra harmonies on lines just toggle it a little extra pizzazz.

Ron: It's really an advantage of having our own studio because Russell can experiment with different singing parts without having to be sure of everything so f the thing doesn't work it's only a waste of time. It's so nerve-racking in a real studio where we cannot take as many chances. The way we work now and for quite awhile we can kind of do things that we aren't sure harmonies but maybe they're just stacked voices of hitting the same notes so it is a positive thing and creative thing of having our own studio where time doesn't really matter.

Me: I have a music project that I came out with a few years ago called Strawberry Blondes Forever, and that was a little inspired by you guys. One of the main thing how was the humor... I think that's my favorite thing about Sparks. Is humor important?

Ron: The big thing for us is getting the music right but if the lyrics needs to be funny then they need to be funny.

Me: Anyway, on this new album "I Wish You Were Fun" is a funny song by the way. If this song came out five years ago or so I would of played it to someone. Hahah. What is this song about?

Ron: It's almost being sung by a person to themselves in away where they're hoping for some ideal that can't be there and also knowing that they really can't change the other person by they wish that they could. So obviously the frustration is something that would make someone melancholy, even if you should be an accepting person, people always want to change somebody into someone slightly that they are not. Also I think also the piano part at the end of that kind of contributes to that sense of melancholy because the lyrics or the tone of the song have a silly feel the piano tag at the end is kind of more melancholy so its kind of reinforcing the melancholy side of the song.

Me: So, I think I know the answer but what comes first, Ron, the lyrics or the music?

Ron: We start off with the music so the lyrics become less than predictable. By doing the music first we have the freedom to maybe fit the lyrics in an uneven kind of way. It seems like if we wrote the lyrics first it would seem like an uneven kind of poetry that would be like one line, one line, one line, one line. We kind of like the freedom, at least in some songs, to be able to lap over to another bar if we want to and its kind of destroying everything. Things don't have to be as tidy. I think the one downside of recording with computers is we try to fight it all the time is the kind of squareness of things. I still try and sit down and try to record and not think in a kind of way. Like with "This Town Ain't Big enough For Both Of Us," I never had a clue about there being a 2 note bar phrase as that kind of thing is kind of beyond me. Those kind of things I like and when I work with computers it alters my brain cells.

Me: How do you sing the songs live, Russell? The recorded tracks are so complex.

Russell: My brother doesn't write songs in regard of the singer. There's one thing singing the songs in the studio where I could punch in if I need to but live I can't punch in so it's more of an issue.

Me: Haha. Ron, when you wrote the song "Scandinavian Design" were you thinking about Ikea? 

Ron: Russell is more of an Ikea person that I am.

Russell: Yeah, I hang out there for the Swedish meatballs.

Ron: My place needs a trip to Ikea I can say that.

Me: I love those meatballs. So, how do you guys keep it fresh and original after all these years? 

Russell: It's just kind of a passion and not be lazy and just be incredibly motivated and focused to come up with fresh stuff each time we set out to record. It's always an unspoken thing if someone was to hear the latest album and that being the only album they know of Sparks at all... they don't know the 22 or whatever the previous albums that exist, that new album has to stand on its own and be as vital and vibrant we might've recorded early on in our career. We sort of approach things that way to make them fresh and have it not sound as if it is coming from somebody that has a history of someone that has 22 previous albums.

Me: You guys worked with Franz Ferdinand. Does stuff like that help you with your creative process?

Ron: Yes, in a way it was more of an inspiration to work on separate three or four minute songs because we worked on a movie, this project we've been writing, called The Net, and so just to realize that we really enjoyed working that way and with a band playing live, more than an inspiring anything specific about writing for that album, the concept of doing what we've done in the past in that sense was inspired by the FFS project.

Me: I have to mention on more thong... you guys were on the "Gilmore Girls"? What did you do on that show?

Russell: We performed the song "Perfume."

Me: That's fucking crazy. Well, it took a long time for you to have a new album out and I am so glad you do and came onto the Phile. Mention your website and please come back again soon when the next album comes out. Have a good Christmas.

Russell: Merry Christmas, Jason.

Ron: Thank you, Jason. Cheers.

That about does it for this entry of the Phile. Thanks to my guests Jeff Trelewicz, Laird Jim and of course Sparks. The Phile will be back next Thursday with Neil Hannon from The Divine Comedy. Spread the word, not the turd. Don't let snakes and alligators bite you. Bye, love you, bye. Have a Merry Christmas, everyone! Enjoy your elves!

Not if it pleases me. No, you can't stop me, not if it pleases me. - Graham Parker

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