Internet sensations Area 11 will hit Huddersfield for the first time this month.
We caught up with the alt-rock frontman Sparkles (aka Thomas Clarke) ahead of their Parish gig on July 24 to talk YouTube, acoustic sets and having a global fanbase.
It’s been three years since your last album, All the Lights in the Sky. Why the gap?
“We were very atypical for a band in the beginning.
“We built our following online and hadn’t really toured before we put the album out.
“So afterwards we had to learn a lot like how to tour and booked 18 dates ourselves.
“We got talking to people in the industry and met our management who helped us out but that explains why it took us three years.”
Tell us about Modern Synthesis.
“We started working on it last year but it’s quite complicated.
“We wanted to tell more stories.
“It’s a very personal tale but we’re not going to give much away because we want listeners to interpret the tracks themselves.
“There are a lot of long tracks with different segments within them.”
Your first album had a nod to anime and eastern rock, what interested you about both of these?
“We’ve always been fans of eastern rock.
“We went out to Japan in 2014 and were inspired by their different and interesting take on hard core and punk.
“All the Lights in the Sky was a concept album around anime and we had a lot of fun doing it but we couldn’t sustain that focus and it ended up becoming a bit forced.
“We have so many influences that our current ones are already different to those on the second album.
“At the moment, I’m into older music like big country – I don’t know if that’s cool or not.”
You’re embarking upon a large UK tour, which includes dozens of record store acoustic shows and signings.
“We’ve never done an acoustic set before so it’s quite exciting.
“It will be good to meet people. We try to talk to everyone after our gigs but at a signing we’ll have more time.”
I notice that although you’ll be playing Huddersfield, you won’t be paying a visit to cities like Leeds and Manchester. Great news for us, but why that choice?
“When we sat down to plan the tour we decided we wanted to go to places that we’ve not been to before.
“We love the cities we’ve played in but chose towns like Huddersfield over them so we can visit fans who live there for a change.”
You’ve been together since 2010 and have won fans through your large internet presence, helped by YouTube channel Yogscast. Talk to us about your beginnings.
“Everything really kicked off for us in 2011.
“A friend of the band passed on one of our cds to Yogscast.
“They asked if they could use our music for one of their videos.
“When I saw that they had two million subscribers I thought-great!
“We ended up doing a lot of work with them.”
You started out in Nottingham but moved to Bristol, renowned for its diverse music scenes. How did you manage to carve a place for yourselves there?
“It’s been quite strange for us.
“I was very active in the local Nottingham scene but we established a Bristol audience before we’d even played a gig there due to our online presence.
“We first played in Bristol in 2013, at least a year after we had moved and we sold out. It’s certainly not the usual progression for a band.
“Our integration into the Bristol scene came later as we started to hang out with other bands and we do well there.”
You’ve now got fans all over the world. Apart from the UK, where are they?
“Our second biggest fan base is in USA. Beyond that it’s Australia and Canada.
“Some of our more surprising fan bases are in Nigeria, the Philippines and India.
“We haven’t yet been able to play in these countries so we can’t wait until we can.”
I know you’ve only just released your album, but have you got anything else up your sleeves?
“Ha, well, we’ve already got some ideas for the next album – we certainly don’t want to leave it as long this time. Everything is really exciting for us at the moment so we just hope to continue that.”