Artist You Should Know: Sparklejet

The Fresno BeeDecember 4, 2013 

Artist You Should Know: Sparklejet

MIKE SCHWABENLAND — SPECIAL TO THE BEE

Sparklejet is an American rock band, which is a generic entry on a Wikipedia page, and a lackluster description given modern music's fascination with hyphenated genres.

It's also entirely accurate.

The Fresno trio has been playing straight-ahead rock music at top-notch volume since the late '90s — earning the unofficial title of "loudest band in town."

Adding to the rock cred: They once performed The Who's "Tommy" in its entirety, complete with 20-plus piece Keith Moon-style drum kit and two pinball machines as backdrop. They also recorded with legendary producer Steve Albini — famous for his work with the Pixies, Nirvana and Bush.

Since then, the band has been laying low, sporadically playing shows and working on a new album, "Phonovella," which will be available as a digital download through CD Baby on Tuesday. The Bee caught up with guitarist/vocalist Victor Sotelo to find out more.

Let's get the basics. Who does what in the band?

Currently, Sparklejet is (Sotelo), vocals and guitar, Wade Krause, drums and vocals, and Eric Peters, bass and vocals.

Is it possible to just be an independent "rock" band anymore?

Independent music has become even more fragmented. There is something for everyone. You can be whatever you want to be.

Your last album was recorded with Steve Albini, who is famous for working with major label acts. But he mostly works with unsigned bands. Did you just call him out of the blue?

Yes. We called his studio and booked the recording session. He double-booked us, rescheduled, and then gave us the larger room at the studio for the same price as the smaller room we had reserved.

He is the real deal, an exceptional engineer with immense experience.

What about the new album?

We started recording the basic tracks live at an engineer's house in Oakhurst during the fall of 2008. The house was unusual in that it had few parallel walls and three levels within an open space in the floor plan. Wade played drums on the lowest level, the guitar and bass players — Chris Eckes played bass on the album — were in the middle, and the engineer was at the top.

There is a concept to the album, yes?

Through metaphor, the songs on the album depict the four classical Greek loves — Eros, Agape, Storge and Philia — and connect the themes of abandonment, reflection and family.

Is the album a departure, at least sonically, from what you're known for?

In a sense, it is, but it's really the band developing and building on ideas and approaches that we've aimed for from the beginning.

Know a local band or musician more people should be familiar with? Send details to Joshua Tehee at jtehee@fresnobee.com or @joshuatehee on Twitter.

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