The Hoosiers

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Biography

Three years after The Hoosiers first stormed the charts with their feelgood brand of fizzy pop, it’s still hard to know when to take the trio seriously. But don’t be fooled. Behind the dressing-up box and the on-stage props, the improbable back stories and the strange lyrics of huge hit singles such as “Goodbye Mr A” and “Worried About Ray”, The Hoosiers have always been a band whose primary aim is to push the boundaries of pop.
Hence, when it came to writing their second album, they set out in search of a brand new sound. Out went the skippy beats, perky melodies, lashings of falsetto and ... Read more

Three years after The Hoosiers first stormed the charts with their feelgood brand of fizzy pop, it’s still hard to know when to take the trio seriously. But don’t be fooled. Behind the dressing-up box and the on-stage props, the improbable back stories and the strange lyrics of huge hit singles such as “Goodbye Mr A” and “Worried About Ray”, The Hoosiers have always been a band whose primary aim is to push the boundaries of pop.
Hence, when it came to writing their second album, they set out in search of a brand new sound. Out went the skippy beats, perky melodies, lashings of falsetto and nods to 70s soft rock that defined their huge selling (over 600,000 copies), chart-topping debut, ‘The Trick To Life’. In came synths, dancefloor-friendly beats, a dash of Giorgio Moroder and triumphant, multi-tracked choruses that recall the pomp of the Pet Shop Boys’ “Go West”. If you thought you knew The Hoosiers, think again.
“We knew we had to move our sound on,” says Sparkes. “Some bands are happy to stick with the sound that made them successful, but that wouldn’t work for us. We’re a pop band and we have to move with the times. As it turned out, that wasn’t as easy as we’d hoped.”
Writing sessions for The Illusion of Safety began in early 2009, but five months on, The Hoosiers had still to hit on a sound that excited them. “We always planned to use more synths,” explains bass-guitarist Martin Skarendahl. “But our first set of songs were so heavy on synths and sampled drums, we stopped sounding like a band. We had to scrap the lot and start again.”
The key to their breakthrough came through co-writing, though not in the manner they imagined. Having agreed to work with a host of A-list writer/producers, including Cathy Dennis, Eg White and Rick Nowels, they realised they had to rip up their old ways of working before they could progress.
“At first, we were averse to any co-writing,” says Sparkes. “But what we discovered was that there are lots of ways to come up with a song. We realised we had strong songs in us, but we had to use different keys to unlock them. We learnt to use our ears instead of relying on the rigid roles we thought we had in the band. At one stage, I found myself playing piano – which I really can’t.”
Just as important was turning down so-called ‘surefire hits’ from some established writers. “We saw some of the murky side of co-writing,” confesses drummer Alphonso Sharland. “We met a few people who only write to a formula and talk about ‘shifting units’. We were offered songs we were told would sell well, but we hated. That was a turning point for us. It helped remind us why we’re in a band – to make music we love. As soon as we turned those songs down, we knew we had to write better songs ourselves.”
Reinvigorated, The Hoosiers took just two days to compose “Choices”, the high-energy, stabby synth-driven, euphoric first single.
“As soon as we had Choices, everything we had been trying for the past few months suddenly made sense,” says Sparkes. “Starting with a simple 4/4 beat freed us up massively and the song just fell in to place. Choices became the blueprint for the album – a firm, rhythmic structure with lots of synths and sound effects and live drums made to sound like processed drums.”
From there, the songs flowed, including the soaring Glorious with its preposterously anthemic chorus, the frenzied, soon-to-be festival chantalong Made To Measure and the panoramic, call-to-reconcile love song Bumpy Ride, a co-write with Grammy Award-winning producer George Noriega and writer Jodi Marr.
Recording sessions for The Illusion of Safety began last summer, first at Metropolis in London, then at the Northampton studio of producer Toby Smith, the former Jamiroquai keyboard player who also produced The Trick To Life. “We arrived at Tobys all fired up, then realised the new studio he had told us was going to be brilliant wasn’t quite built”, recalls Sparkes. “By which I mean it had walls missing. All of Tobys equipment was there just not all of it was working. It was this albums Spinal Tap moment. It was a setback, but we can laugh about it now.”
It was Smith’s stack of vintage synths that helped seal The Illusion of Safety’s new sound. Not to mention the delights of Giorgio Moroder and Fleetwood Mac. “That and old Prince, Michael McDonald and Yarbrough and Peoples,” says Sparkes. “But this album has been influenced as much by new artists as old – we have been listening to everyone from Midlake and Beirut, Phoenix, Ladyhawke and Passion Pit. If you use old synths, people always mention the ‘80s because that’s when they were mass-produced. We used them because of the warmth of their sound and we thought it was what the song would have wanted.”
Lyrically, The Hoosiers have moved on too. Where The Trick To Life purposely avoided love songs, The Illusion of Safety tackles them if not head on, certainly from a skewed angle.
“We decided on love songs to shift a lot of units,” jokes Sparkes. “With our debut, we sidestepped the love theme entirely. To be different, we embraced it this time, but in as abstract a way as we could. One song is about a boy who loves a girl he has never met. It’s a sort of stalker song. When you’re 15, sometimes the idea of going out with a girl is better than actually asking her, because you know she’ll say no. Another is about a ghost who is in love with someone who will never see him, although he is walking through walls to impress her.”
With The Hoosiers’ straighter new sound comes a straighter new look. The dressing up box has been discarded and, from now on, the chaos will happen around them. Paramount to their take on musical and sartorial representation was the necessity that it was unacceptable to fit in with the trends around them.
“Last time, we had spent years trying to get a record deal and we wanted to put our all in to every aspect of the band,” says Sparkes. “We tried hard to entertain our fans and, for the most part, it worked. Occasionally, maybe, we went a step too far. For example? Well, at the time, we loved the idea of using a trampoline to make it look like we were levitating in an Acton pub, all dressed as Superman. In retrospect... ”

This biography was provided by the artist or their representative.

Three years after The Hoosiers first stormed the charts with their feelgood brand of fizzy pop, it’s still hard to know when to take the trio seriously. But don’t be fooled. Behind the dressing-up box and the on-stage props, the improbable back stories and the strange lyrics of huge hit singles such as “Goodbye Mr A” and “Worried About Ray”, The Hoosiers have always been a band whose primary aim is to push the boundaries of pop.
Hence, when it came to writing their second album, they set out in search of a brand new sound. Out went the skippy beats, perky melodies, lashings of falsetto and nods to 70s soft rock that defined their huge selling (over 600,000 copies), chart-topping debut, ‘The Trick To Life’. In came synths, dancefloor-friendly beats, a dash of Giorgio Moroder and triumphant, multi-tracked choruses that recall the pomp of the Pet Shop Boys’ “Go West”. If you thought you knew The Hoosiers, think again.
“We knew we had to move our sound on,” says Sparkes. “Some bands are happy to stick with the sound that made them successful, but that wouldn’t work for us. We’re a pop band and we have to move with the times. As it turned out, that wasn’t as easy as we’d hoped.”
Writing sessions for The Illusion of Safety began in early 2009, but five months on, The Hoosiers had still to hit on a sound that excited them. “We always planned to use more synths,” explains bass-guitarist Martin Skarendahl. “But our first set of songs were so heavy on synths and sampled drums, we stopped sounding like a band. We had to scrap the lot and start again.”
The key to their breakthrough came through co-writing, though not in the manner they imagined. Having agreed to work with a host of A-list writer/producers, including Cathy Dennis, Eg White and Rick Nowels, they realised they had to rip up their old ways of working before they could progress.
“At first, we were averse to any co-writing,” says Sparkes. “But what we discovered was that there are lots of ways to come up with a song. We realised we had strong songs in us, but we had to use different keys to unlock them. We learnt to use our ears instead of relying on the rigid roles we thought we had in the band. At one stage, I found myself playing piano – which I really can’t.”
Just as important was turning down so-called ‘surefire hits’ from some established writers. “We saw some of the murky side of co-writing,” confesses drummer Alphonso Sharland. “We met a few people who only write to a formula and talk about ‘shifting units’. We were offered songs we were told would sell well, but we hated. That was a turning point for us. It helped remind us why we’re in a band – to make music we love. As soon as we turned those songs down, we knew we had to write better songs ourselves.”
Reinvigorated, The Hoosiers took just two days to compose “Choices”, the high-energy, stabby synth-driven, euphoric first single.
“As soon as we had Choices, everything we had been trying for the past few months suddenly made sense,” says Sparkes. “Starting with a simple 4/4 beat freed us up massively and the song just fell in to place. Choices became the blueprint for the album – a firm, rhythmic structure with lots of synths and sound effects and live drums made to sound like processed drums.”
From there, the songs flowed, including the soaring Glorious with its preposterously anthemic chorus, the frenzied, soon-to-be festival chantalong Made To Measure and the panoramic, call-to-reconcile love song Bumpy Ride, a co-write with Grammy Award-winning producer George Noriega and writer Jodi Marr.
Recording sessions for The Illusion of Safety began last summer, first at Metropolis in London, then at the Northampton studio of producer Toby Smith, the former Jamiroquai keyboard player who also produced The Trick To Life. “We arrived at Tobys all fired up, then realised the new studio he had told us was going to be brilliant wasn’t quite built”, recalls Sparkes. “By which I mean it had walls missing. All of Tobys equipment was there just not all of it was working. It was this albums Spinal Tap moment. It was a setback, but we can laugh about it now.”
It was Smith’s stack of vintage synths that helped seal The Illusion of Safety’s new sound. Not to mention the delights of Giorgio Moroder and Fleetwood Mac. “That and old Prince, Michael McDonald and Yarbrough and Peoples,” says Sparkes. “But this album has been influenced as much by new artists as old – we have been listening to everyone from Midlake and Beirut, Phoenix, Ladyhawke and Passion Pit. If you use old synths, people always mention the ‘80s because that’s when they were mass-produced. We used them because of the warmth of their sound and we thought it was what the song would have wanted.”
Lyrically, The Hoosiers have moved on too. Where The Trick To Life purposely avoided love songs, The Illusion of Safety tackles them if not head on, certainly from a skewed angle.
“We decided on love songs to shift a lot of units,” jokes Sparkes. “With our debut, we sidestepped the love theme entirely. To be different, we embraced it this time, but in as abstract a way as we could. One song is about a boy who loves a girl he has never met. It’s a sort of stalker song. When you’re 15, sometimes the idea of going out with a girl is better than actually asking her, because you know she’ll say no. Another is about a ghost who is in love with someone who will never see him, although he is walking through walls to impress her.”
With The Hoosiers’ straighter new sound comes a straighter new look. The dressing up box has been discarded and, from now on, the chaos will happen around them. Paramount to their take on musical and sartorial representation was the necessity that it was unacceptable to fit in with the trends around them.
“Last time, we had spent years trying to get a record deal and we wanted to put our all in to every aspect of the band,” says Sparkes. “We tried hard to entertain our fans and, for the most part, it worked. Occasionally, maybe, we went a step too far. For example? Well, at the time, we loved the idea of using a trampoline to make it look like we were levitating in an Acton pub, all dressed as Superman. In retrospect... ”

This biography was provided by the artist or their representative.

Three years after The Hoosiers first stormed the charts with their feelgood brand of fizzy pop, it’s still hard to know when to take the trio seriously. But don’t be fooled. Behind the dressing-up box and the on-stage props, the improbable back stories and the strange lyrics of huge hit singles such as “Goodbye Mr A” and “Worried About Ray”, The Hoosiers have always been a band whose primary aim is to push the boundaries of pop.
Hence, when it came to writing their second album, they set out in search of a brand new sound. Out went the skippy beats, perky melodies, lashings of falsetto and nods to 70s soft rock that defined their huge selling (over 600,000 copies), chart-topping debut, ‘The Trick To Life’. In came synths, dancefloor-friendly beats, a dash of Giorgio Moroder and triumphant, multi-tracked choruses that recall the pomp of the Pet Shop Boys’ “Go West”. If you thought you knew The Hoosiers, think again.
“We knew we had to move our sound on,” says Sparkes. “Some bands are happy to stick with the sound that made them successful, but that wouldn’t work for us. We’re a pop band and we have to move with the times. As it turned out, that wasn’t as easy as we’d hoped.”
Writing sessions for The Illusion of Safety began in early 2009, but five months on, The Hoosiers had still to hit on a sound that excited them. “We always planned to use more synths,” explains bass-guitarist Martin Skarendahl. “But our first set of songs were so heavy on synths and sampled drums, we stopped sounding like a band. We had to scrap the lot and start again.”
The key to their breakthrough came through co-writing, though not in the manner they imagined. Having agreed to work with a host of A-list writer/producers, including Cathy Dennis, Eg White and Rick Nowels, they realised they had to rip up their old ways of working before they could progress.
“At first, we were averse to any co-writing,” says Sparkes. “But what we discovered was that there are lots of ways to come up with a song. We realised we had strong songs in us, but we had to use different keys to unlock them. We learnt to use our ears instead of relying on the rigid roles we thought we had in the band. At one stage, I found myself playing piano – which I really can’t.”
Just as important was turning down so-called ‘surefire hits’ from some established writers. “We saw some of the murky side of co-writing,” confesses drummer Alphonso Sharland. “We met a few people who only write to a formula and talk about ‘shifting units’. We were offered songs we were told would sell well, but we hated. That was a turning point for us. It helped remind us why we’re in a band – to make music we love. As soon as we turned those songs down, we knew we had to write better songs ourselves.”
Reinvigorated, The Hoosiers took just two days to compose “Choices”, the high-energy, stabby synth-driven, euphoric first single.
“As soon as we had Choices, everything we had been trying for the past few months suddenly made sense,” says Sparkes. “Starting with a simple 4/4 beat freed us up massively and the song just fell in to place. Choices became the blueprint for the album – a firm, rhythmic structure with lots of synths and sound effects and live drums made to sound like processed drums.”
From there, the songs flowed, including the soaring Glorious with its preposterously anthemic chorus, the frenzied, soon-to-be festival chantalong Made To Measure and the panoramic, call-to-reconcile love song Bumpy Ride, a co-write with Grammy Award-winning producer George Noriega and writer Jodi Marr.
Recording sessions for The Illusion of Safety began last summer, first at Metropolis in London, then at the Northampton studio of producer Toby Smith, the former Jamiroquai keyboard player who also produced The Trick To Life. “We arrived at Tobys all fired up, then realised the new studio he had told us was going to be brilliant wasn’t quite built”, recalls Sparkes. “By which I mean it had walls missing. All of Tobys equipment was there just not all of it was working. It was this albums Spinal Tap moment. It was a setback, but we can laugh about it now.”
It was Smith’s stack of vintage synths that helped seal The Illusion of Safety’s new sound. Not to mention the delights of Giorgio Moroder and Fleetwood Mac. “That and old Prince, Michael McDonald and Yarbrough and Peoples,” says Sparkes. “But this album has been influenced as much by new artists as old – we have been listening to everyone from Midlake and Beirut, Phoenix, Ladyhawke and Passion Pit. If you use old synths, people always mention the ‘80s because that’s when they were mass-produced. We used them because of the warmth of their sound and we thought it was what the song would have wanted.”
Lyrically, The Hoosiers have moved on too. Where The Trick To Life purposely avoided love songs, The Illusion of Safety tackles them if not head on, certainly from a skewed angle.
“We decided on love songs to shift a lot of units,” jokes Sparkes. “With our debut, we sidestepped the love theme entirely. To be different, we embraced it this time, but in as abstract a way as we could. One song is about a boy who loves a girl he has never met. It’s a sort of stalker song. When you’re 15, sometimes the idea of going out with a girl is better than actually asking her, because you know she’ll say no. Another is about a ghost who is in love with someone who will never see him, although he is walking through walls to impress her.”
With The Hoosiers’ straighter new sound comes a straighter new look. The dressing up box has been discarded and, from now on, the chaos will happen around them. Paramount to their take on musical and sartorial representation was the necessity that it was unacceptable to fit in with the trends around them.
“Last time, we had spent years trying to get a record deal and we wanted to put our all in to every aspect of the band,” says Sparkes. “We tried hard to entertain our fans and, for the most part, it worked. Occasionally, maybe, we went a step too far. For example? Well, at the time, we loved the idea of using a trampoline to make it look like we were levitating in an Acton pub, all dressed as Superman. In retrospect... ”

This biography was provided by the artist or their representative.

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