More interesting now, but no regrets over the Lycra

The Hoosiers
The Hoosiers
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You’d have thought Irwin Sparkes might have a few regrets.

After all, he’s the singer in a band which has worn some eye-watering Lycra outfits in some of their videos.

Oh, and he also streaked on stage at the end of a James Blunt gig in front of 25,000 people at an arena in 
Switzerland.

It’s quite refreshing then to find he’s got no qualms about anything that’s gone on in the past.

“I’m pretty proud of that stuff to be honest,” he said. “It’s not in every line of work you get the opportunity to do stuff like that, so why not embrace it and have a bit of fun.”

Sparkes is the frontman of The Hoosiers, a band playing at 53 Degrees in Preston tomorrow. They’d been gigging for a decade before hitting the big-time with the release of Worried About Ray in 2007. That got to number five and their debut album, The Trick To Life, did even better – 
topping the charts.

They were one of those bands that seemed to split people. Some labelled their brand of guitar-pop as a bit lightweight. But those folk might want to think again now for, after a tough last few years in a music industry that is as fickle as they come, the band are arguably a lot more interesting and edgy.

After their second album didn’t enjoy the same success as their debut, they decided to release third album (The News From Nowhere, out last month) themselves.

“That way we could have complete control,” said Sparkes. “It is certainly tougher now because we don’t have the same radio airplay that we had at the start. Back with our first album our stuff was never off Radio One.

“But it’s certainly more interesting now because we are doing it all ourselves. It helps that we’ve got a fanbase and people know us and 
recognise a few songs. I feel sorry for those bands that haven’t, because it must be very tough. But I feel as though our songwriting is getting better the older we get and the live gigs seem to be going great. It’s fantastic to have an audience there. When you can see they are loving it, it gives you a buzz in return.”

Sparkes says he might nip to Blackpool after the gig as it’s a place he’s fond of. The Hoosiers headlined the 
Empress Ballroom a few years ago and he also “went for a darts marathon”, spending the day as a spectator at the PDC World Matchplay. “I watched it for four hours straight – it’s enough to cure any man of a love of darts,” Sparkes added.

As for that James Blunt streak by the way, Sparkes can explain. “He’s a great fella and he invited us to do some gigs with him,” he said. “To repay the favour the four of us in the band decided to streak across stage during the encore.

“Thankfully he saw the funny side...”

Tickets for tomorrow’s gig are £10 and available from www.53degrees.net.