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FIRST THINGS FIRST: MORNING PARADE'S STEVE SPARROW

Steve Sparrow_Morning Parade_by Chris M. Junior.jpg

America got a taste of Morning Parade in March when the group released a four-song EP and showcased at the South by Southwest music conference/festival in Austin, Texas.

The U.K. rock band is offering a much bigger serving this month in the form of its self-titled debut album (due June 19 on Astralwerks Records) and a 13-date U.S. tour (which opens June 4 in Los Angeles).

To coincide with the release of Morning Parade's debut (which contains the standout single "Headlights"), singer/guitarist Steve Sparrow sat down to discuss some other important music firsts in his life.

First album he ever purchased: "Oasis, Be Here Now, in 1997. I got it on CD, and it's pretty much the album I used to learn guitar. I got the record and a book of the chords and locked myself in my room for a few months and taught myself the songs. I think this is where I first began noticing patterns in the chord structures."

His first guitar: "My first guitar was an Epiphone Les Paul Special model, and it was ebony with a rosewood fretboard. I bought it from Denmark street in London for around £150 with an amp. I remember getting it home and not knowing how to tune it! I sold it on eBay to buy a Fender Strat, which I still have!"

First words that come to mind when asked to describe Essex, England: "Fake tan (laughs)! Essex has a crazy spectrum of people and places for such a small county. It has some of the most beautiful countryside in the U.K., but it also has a lot of concrete."

Memories from the first Morning Parade show: "We played at the Marquee in Hertford, which is closed down now. I remember it was packed out with people interested in hearing what this new band would sound like; we'd all been in bands in the local scene before, but no one knew what to expect. I think we played six songs, none of which ever got close to making the record. I'd kinda fallen out of love with music a little bit, but I remember thinking after the show, This is why I make music."

First song written for the first Morning Parade album: "I think it must have been 'Headlights.' I wrote it in about 15 minutes in a hotel room in Bristol, where I was studying. I thought it was a decent B-side type track and played it to [bassist] Phil [Titus] when I got home, and he quickly told me he didn't think it was a B-side. It's been around for nearly three years, so it has changed a lot from its initial shape; the structure, lyrics and arrangement have changed a lot — only the melody and riff have remained."

First impression of producer David Kosten: "David scared the hell out of me; he was the first person who really pushed me and tested me. The music industry has a tendency to surround you with yes-men, and I liked that David was pushing us. When I first met him, his opening line was, 'If you don't think I'm a c--- within a month, I'm not doing my job right.' I love what David did for Morning Parade; he helped us to find ourselves and he brought out a side of us we were maybe a little afraid to show. I learned a lot about arrangement and balance from him."

— Introduction and interview by Chris M. Junior

Morning Parade on tour (schedule subject to change):

* June 4: Troubadour — Los Angeles

* June 5: Echo — Los Angeles

* June 6: The Rhythm Room — Phoenix

* June 8: Prophet Bar — Dallas

* June 9: The Parish — Austin, Texas

* June 11: Cain's Ballroom — Tulsa, Okla.

* June 12: Granada Theater — Lawrence, Kan.

* June 13: Waiting Room — Omaha, Neb.

* June 14: First Avenue — Minneapolis

* June 15: Lincoln Hall — Chicago

* June 16: The iLounge — Detroit

* June 18: Paradise Rock Club — Boston

* June 20: Mercury Lounge — New York

Photo by Chris M. Junior

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