Initially, C’Mon sounds like a more peaceful record. The first few songs have a warm, welcoming feel, and the songs mostly concern themselves with the struggles and consolations of a long-term relationship. “The songs are like us talking to each other,” says Sparhawk, sat in the building where most of it was recorded.
Parker’s new songs generally seem confused but reconciling. As the album goes on, though, Sparhawk’s are increasingly brutal and pared down: “$20” is a declaration of unmediated love, but it’s delivered at the pace of a dirge, and with an edge that could easily be mistaken for rancour. The stunned, Neil Youngish “Witches”, meanwhile, features Sparhawk referencing a story from his childhood: waking from a bad dream about witches, his father hands him a baseball bat and sends him back to confront them. It’s hard not to see it as an allegory for Sparhawk’s ongoing recovery; about not just facing up to fears, but actively fighting them.
“Recovery is sometimes ugly,” he says, “and you have bad days from time to time.” Sparhawk now goes running to channel his energies, but there are still days like the one in 2008 when he claimed onstage at the End Of The Road Festival that, “All the people I love told me they hated me today,” then viciously threw his guitar into the crowd. “That,” he says now, “is definitely one of the stupidest things I’ve ever done.
“I can’t convince people I’m healthy and it’s OK to let me get onstage again, that I won’t kill anybody or something,” he continues, as a few months of supporting C’Mon stretch out in front of the band. “I guess I’m taking a gamble and hoping that good comes from being able to do what I think is beautiful.”
Maybe it comes down to something he was trying to articulate earlier. If he equates creativity with faith, it’s wrong to repress it.
“Yeah, that’s right. I’ve been given this opportunity, there’s a responsibility. But at the same time, I’m still just the 14-year-old kid listening to Van Halen and saying, ‘Wow, this would be great!’”
Picture: Pieter M Van Hattem