“I have a video of myself crying!”
I was in the middle of one of my usual YouTube binges, when in the background of a Gothic makeup tutorial, I heard some music that really appealed to me. It had a kind of dark wave, electro Goth vibe to it. Immediately, I thought “I need to know who this band is!” A quick look in the description revealed to me that the song was ‘Svea’ by Foghorn Lonesome, something I later found out is that ‘Svea’ is the name of Eric Sparkwood’s grandmother.
Eric Sparkwood is the face behind Foghorn Lonesome. He started in 2011 as a one-man band in Stockholm, Sweden. In 2016, he played his first show with Jessica Isaksson on vocals and Nikita Smirnov on bass. In 2017, Krzystof Rozwadowski and, long-time producer, Tomas Rosenberg joined the band.
After speaking to Eric Sparkwood I could understand how the music came to be. It was clear he uses his life experiences as influence in his music. Even as someone with such talent to produce this music, Eric revealed to me that he does have his struggles. He came across to me as someone very kind, thoughtful and dedicated to his music and fans.
How did you come up with the name Foghorn Lonesome?
“I never reveal that actually. But with a quick Google search I’m sure people can figure that out.”
What made you want to start creating music? Is it something you would like to pursue full-time?
“I started playing bass when I was 16 and joined my first band. I guess it felt like the natural thing to do at the time, since I’d been constantly listening to music as a kid. I have mixed feelings about having this as a full-time thing since the music industry is in bad shape these days.”
I’m curious to know more about how you feel about the music industry. What do you think the main issue is nowadays?
“I think the main issue is that artists don’t get paid. We’re not signed to a label, but usually they tend to make most of the profits. I grew up before the internet and the MP3, so we had to pay for all of the music we wanted. Most people today don’t. But I’ve let go of all that. Sometimes I offer free downloads on the music on SoundCloud. I’m very grateful if someone purchases the music off Bandcamp or iTunes, but it’s fine if people don’t. The most important thing is that people have access to the music. Today’s mainstream music isn’t for me. But I do wish I could write three-minute pop songs. Then maybe I’d be summering in the Hamptons.”
How did you meet the other members?
“Jessica and Krzystof answered an ad I had online for new band members and I already knew Tomas since he produced all my music. The debut album was done and recorded by the time the band was put together.”
How would you describe your music?
“Melodic, varied and dark I suppose.”
What are the current projects you are working on?
“At the moment, we’re rehearsing for a show in March. I’m also off and on working of two new songs: ‘Strawberry Moon’ and ‘Stockholm, You Have Let Me Down’. There are demo samples of them on SoundCloud. I’m also working on another song, which at the is titled ‘Dumb Boy’, but the song isn’t the priority right now. I’ve also been putting tigether an acoustic rendition of a previous song. But I’m in no rush to finish them. I’m rarely in the mood to work on them.”
Do you have a favourite song you have produced or that you recommend people listen to first?
“No, I don’t have a favourite song. If someone was going to be introduced to Foghorn Lonesome, I would recommend songs like ‘Svea’, ‘Uliecry’, ‘All I Want Is Some Love’, ‘Night & Gale’, ‘Winter Blue’ and ‘Like A Storm’. Choosing just one is difficult.”
Where do you get your influences from?
“I would say my personal experiences are where I draw most of my influences. I think all of the music I’ve been listening to in my life has gone into my musical DNA. But when I discovered Diary of Dreams back in 2003 I was introduced to a new genre that kind of combined electronic music with gothic music. So when I started Foghorn Lonesome I knew that these genres would come together in my music too”.
Foghorn Lonesome seemed to disappear for a while, but you are back with new social media pages and working on a new gig and some songs, was there a reason you took a break from your music?
“My girlfriend left me and I hit rock bottom. Then I hit a level lower than rock bottom and did some things I’m not proud of. Eventually, I started working on new music.”
Do you find that writing helps you deal with that?
“I’m not sure, but usually I would say no. The problem doesn’t go away just because you express it. Sometimes it can make you feel worse. You just get reminded of it when working on the song. Especially when writing the lyrics.”
I’ve listened to your song ‘Like A Storm’, and something that always fascinated me was at the end of it you have a monologue with you crying in it. I wondered if you were crying for real during that recording. Could you talk a bit about that?
“The crying is real. It was the first thing I wrote and recorded for the song. It’s a very personal song, but in that part I took things one step further and let it all out in the moment there. When I recorded that part my sound card wasn’t working because it was old. So the only way for me to record it at the time was through the microphone in my laptop. But the only way to activate the microphone is if you record a video. Then I removed the video part and just kept the audio to use in the song. I still have the video of me sitting in front of the computer crying recording that part which I won’t be showing to anyone.”
What is the song writing process like for you?
“I always start working on the music first. Then the lyrics. Sometimes I have to put some more effort into it. Maybe I’ll go sit at the cafe and listen to the song and try to come up with lyrics and vocal melodies in my head. When I’m really into working on a song I will listen to it a lot. I’ll listen to it when I’m out for a run or on the subway and at the same time be thinking about the lyrics. Usually you reach a point where things just feel done. Then you know it’s time to stop. You can rework things forever if you wanted to.”
You seem very interactive with fans through social media and I noticed on your Instagram page that you have some fans who got tattoos of your lyrics, how does it make you feel to know that your music creatively inspires and also connects so strongly with people?
“It means I must be doing something right. It’s a great honour of course. James Hetfield of Metallica said it well when he said: “It means a lot to me when my darkness can connect with your darkness and make it ok.” So if my shit can help someone else cope with their shit better then that’s a good thing.”
Do you have other hobbies outside of music that would help rejuvenate your creativity?
“I try and run often. I go running for an hour. I get energy from that. Sleeping is probably the best thing I know. It’s the closest to death I can get.”
You recently became a grandfather, how that make you feel?
What is your ultimate goal as a band?
“I don’t think there is a goal. We’re lucky if we can get a gig somewhere. It’s difficult for all bands to get anywhere. Originally my goal was mainly to release an album and hope some people would enjoy the music. Both of which I have achieved.”
Where has been your favourite place to perform?
“We’ve only had three gigs so far. The first one was the best. It was at Klubb Död here in Stockholm. We might be doing a festival in August.”
Would you like to travel and perform in other countries?
“We’ve looked into it. Unsuccessfully so far. Again, it’s hard to get gigs.”
How do you think your music has evolved?
“That’s hard to say. Two songs have been released since the debut album, ‘Like A Storm’ and ‘Neon Thighs’. I think they sound like they could’ve been on the album in the sense that they’re similar in style. Now I’m working on some new music. I don’t know. It sounds similar I suppose. I guess I haven’t really evolved. Hah.”
What has been your greatest challenge?
“Finishing the debut album was a long and tiring ordeal. It demanded a lot of patience. Something I don’t usually have.”
More of a fun question: What would you do if you had £10 million?
“Pay off my debts and buy a house far away from everything and everyone.”
Any hopes for 2018?
“A fatal heart attack.”