-QRD - Current Issue   About QRD   QRD Archives
QRD #64 - we shall return
QRD - Thanks for your interest & support
about this issue
Alan Sparhawk
Paul Gregory
Fruits de Mer
Sound in Silence
Short Story:
The Shards that Float Upstream
Living Art
Tour Diary:
Plumerai - Mondegreen
Remora - Recent Covers
Animated Art:
Sun Photos
QRD - Advertise
Silber Records
Silber Button Factory
Silber Kickstarter
Interview with Alan Sparhawk of Low
June 2013

I’m really big on the new Low album Invisible Way, so I figured I’d ask Alan a few questions I hadn’t seen anyone else ask him about it.

QRD – I assume Clarence White in the song “Clarence White” is the musician, but who’s Josh Murray & what’s his relation to him?

Alan – Actually the name “Clarence White” came very random when I wrote the song - so not about the actual person.  Same with Mr. Murray.  The two names had a nice ring together.  Sometimes all you need are names.

QRD – On “Clarence White” are the handclaps real or is it that handclap pedal?

Alan – We went analog on the claps, though the hand-clapper pedal is always at hand, ready for that one special day.

QRD – These days do you record with a click track & build up or go kind of live?

Alan – I think we used a click on one song on Invisible Way.  All the songs started tracking with the 3 of us all playing together in the room, then built from there.

QRD – How much of Invisible Way was completely planned before going in to record & how many ideas were created or added in the studio?

Alan – We had our songs sorted before we went in - by that I mean we had demo’d the songs & knew our way around them pretty well.  There was some creative adjustment once we got into the studio, but we already knew where we were; probably more so than any record we have done in a while.  We knew we had limited time with Jeff, so we tried to be ready & efficient.

QRD – How involved is a producer with your record?  Are they basically just an engineer or fairly involved with song selection, musical arrangements, etc.?

Alan – It of course varies wildly. I always look at the producer as the “facilitator” - the person who makes sure the record gets done. That can span from, like you said, just recording to putting the whole thing together. I don’t think we have ever worked with anyone who told us how to play or how a song should be (maybe we should have?) even with Jeff, who I thought, of anyone, would have maybe poked around with the songs, didn’t. I’ve done some producing & I must say, I like it; but I like being more hands-on, like Phil Spector.

QRD – How do you select a producer & do you think that you’ll ever do home recordings for a commercial release again?

Alan – Usually, it’s just a matter of planting the idea in our heads (“we have some songs, we should make another record, where?”) for a while & seeing what comes up.  Usually we know what it should be once we stumble on it.  For this last record, Jeff had invited us to see the studio a few years ago & when we finally stopped by the light went on & we knew it was the right place & people to work with.  We still record at home & the results are out there (bonus CDs, etc.), but there’s something about going to a place for a limited time to concentrate & finish as you start - it’s probably the best way for us, maybe just because that’s how we started.  Plus, I like having another creative person there who you trust & who has perhaps a different perspective or angle on who the band is.  We’ve learned that no matter who & where we work with, it still sounds like us.  In fact the last few records have been a bit of experimenting with that very property.

QRD – Will there ever be a full album in the “Clarence What?” & “Do You Know How to Waltz?” style?

Alan – I would have made all the records like that if it were not for all these pesky songs we keep writing.

QRD – What are the pictures of “a guitar/amp to keep you warm” a reference to?

Alan – It was a particularly cold spell in Duluth.  Started with a banjo, actually!  It was just to say hello to my cold friends, but it kept going....

Other QRD interviews with Alan Sparhawk:
Low (from Whirlpool 1995)
Low interview (October 1998)
Low interview (September 2000)
Alan Sparhawk interview (July 2006)
Low Interview (October 2007)
Couples interview with Alan & Mimi of Low  (February 2007)
Father's Day Interview with Alan Sparhawk of Low (May 2007)
Guitarist Interview Series with Alan Sparhawk of Low & Retribution Gospel Choir (December 2010)
Christian Musician interview with Alan Sparhawk of Low (March 2011)