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Sparks' radio musical

The Mael brothers plan to turn latest album into a live show and film

  • 29/10/2009
  • Rodrigo Davies

For most bands a radio musical might seem like a pretty eccentric detour, but for Ron and Russell Mael it scarcely seems unusual as a 22nd album.

The Sparks duo’s latest creation is a story about the Swedish director Ingmar Bergman, and last night (28 Oct) in London, 6 Music hosted its premiere in English - followed by a question and answer session hosted by presenter Stuart Maconie.

The Seduction of Ingmar Bergman will be played in full on Stuart Maconie’s Freak Zone on 8 November.

The prolific pop experimentalists have never been shy of theatrics and 1950s Hollywood is a natural playground for a 24 track narrative in which the two star, and to which they've applied an irreverent mix of typical Sparks sounds and modern classical music.

"Having done 21 albums before this we really felt that we needed to work in a different way, and this allowed us to retain our sensibility," Ron said. "We originally thought of it as a side project between albums, but once we started working on it it took on a bigger life."

"We originally thought of it as a side project between albums, but once we started working on it it took on a bigger life."
Ron Mael

The project was originally commissioned by Sweden’s national public radio station, who gave them almost free rein, according to Russell.

However the Maels said they are now planning to turn the production into a live show and hopefully a feature film: "We are in the midst of figuring out how to do it live, because it is something that although it was done of the radio, we really think this would convert naturally to a live performance."

Russell said they’re in talks with Canadian film director Guy Madden about developing a film version of The Seduction of Ingmar Bergman.

While Sparks are showing no signs of quitting making music, they aren’t exactly inspired by the current state of pop music.

"It seems like you understand the stance of bands all too well these days. There’s a real lack of people with the ability or the desire to break out of that sort of status quo of what pop music is," according to Russell.

"For us, no matter how good a bass player in a band is, it’s a traditional form and that form’s become old fashioned to us, in a form that’s supposed to be progressive and rebellious and modern. It sounds very tired to us."

Have your say

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Richard Ward Houston Texas USA
Sparks are the greatest pop dou of all time. Their last four cd's are stunning leaps foreward in popular music, as if Frank Zappa and Africa Bambatta meet David Bowie and Phillip Glass all filtered through the minds of the Meals. This is pop music for grown-ups, a new definition of art. If you have not heard Sparks in a while I advise you to get on board this very fast moving train.

Philip Von Sternberg, Blackpool
Anyone who has listened to their last 3 albums will know that Sparks are as good as they have ever been. Can't wait to listen to this latest offering. Keep rockin' boys!

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