An audience with Low: “When things are right at the edge of breaking apart, it can be really musical”

The much-loved Minnesota duo discuss sonic weapons, dub mixtapes, writing Easter musicals and those dungarees

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It’s the day before Low hit the road for their first tour in more than two years, but the duo are feeling unusually calm. “There’s this German word for the anxiety that occurs before a long trip,” says Mimi Parker, on a Zoom call from Duluth. “But since we haven’t toured for so long, I don’t have that anxiety as severe. Maybe I’ve forgotten how bad it is!”

Her husband and bandmate Alan Sparhawk is consoling himself with the idea that because audiences have been so starved of live music, they’ll happily forgive any sloppiness. “I went to a show the other day in town,” he reveals. “It was just some friends who were doing a Van Halen cover band for somebody’s birthday party, and I was really pretty ecstatic!”

Sparhawk has recently been moonlighting in a covers band himself, playing the songs of Neil Young and Crazy Horse with the group Tired Eyes: “It’s a very raggedy four-piece band, and it’s really fun.” Parker, however, has declined the opportunity to get involved, preferring to stay home and watch the Winter Olympics. “We used to pretend Mim had a band called Rubber Snake,” confides Sparhawk. Sadly, though, no lost recordings by this tantalising side-project are believed to exist. “Definitely lost!” she laughs.

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When you first got together as a couple, was there any inkling that you’d also be making music together for the rest of your lives?

David Moss, Carshalton, Surrey

SPARHAWK: I don’t know. I mean, we bonded originally on music. We were the two people in our school who were into weirder music: Mim had Hüsker Dü and REM, and I had Sex Pistols, The Clash and Siouxsie & The Banshees.

PARKER: We knew that music was important. I had a musical family – I would sing, my sister and my mom played guitar and piano and accordion. And Alan’s dad was musically inclined. So in terms of us being in a band, not right away, but the odds were pretty high.

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