We are young and still alive / And now the time is on our side.

My friends Andy and Ryan over at We Hate Music have been counting down to Free Energy's inaugural show in Des Moines for, what, weeks now? Months? And with good reason. When Minnesota native son Paul Sprangers and the rest of his now-Philly-based band-- who kick off a set of dates with Weezer later this month-- descend on Vaudeville Mews this Wednesday night, I don't see how it could fail to be an awesome time. Some people around here may have caught Sprangers when he was fronting Hockey Night, a band that recorded for late, sadly missed Bay Area punk label Lookout!. These days Free Energy have teamed up with another much-loved label, New York's DFA, where they worked with label co-founder and LCD Soundsystem frontman James Murphy to help craft 2010 debut album Stuck on Nothing: a classic-rock-tinged pop record in that fun, summer barbecue kind of way. It looks like we might not be barbecuing around here for a while, so until Wednesday night, here are five answers (plus an extra one, just in case) Sprangers was kind enough to share with me via e-mail. Also please definitely listen to his interview with the We Hate Music dudes.

1. You're from Red Wing, Minnesota, and when you were with your old band, Hockey Night, I know you played Des Moines at least once. Any standout memories of our fair city? It's OK to be brutally honest.

PS: yes. i love des moines. being brutally honest.

hockey night played the vaudeville mews a couple times. always good.

there was a weird frat/dance bar down the street that had psychedelic stuff on the tvs. that was cool.

2. Any advice for musicians in a smaller city trying to get fans and get noticed?

PS: i would say to all musicians in smaller cities and towns: you are at a huge advantage right now.

you can pay less rent than the kool-aid drinking hipsters in the big cities. your cost of living is lower.

practice your ass off, write tons of songs, and MAYBE, eventually, put some music online. that's only if you're getting SOME Kind of positive feedback. even if it's from your best friend or your mom or whatever. do nothing but write, record, and play live. get some shitty job and don't buy useless shit. get your furniture off the streets and wear the same jeans for years.

this is what i did/do.

i am going to die making art. nothing else is important to me.

actually, girls are a very close second.

3. Along the same lines, I know you've said you guys still consider yourselves as being a Minnesota band. And I think that's pretty significant. I don't know about Minneapolis, but I feel like I've picked up a different vibe when it comes to being a music fan in Des Moines than in NYC, or even a bigger Midwestern city like Chicago. And not just that people come out for different shows than they might on the Lower East Side, either. What do you think is different about being into music and going to shows here in the Midwest versus on the East Coast? Or am I just imagining things?

PS: i don't know. a fan is a fan. i lived in nyc and went to as many shows as i could and loved every second. always.

maybe midwest kids are a bit more desperate for live shows? whereas on the east coast you can throw a rock in any direction and hit a live show.

4. For us music geeks, it's year-end list time. I've seen you raving about Rihanna's "Rude Boy," which is awesome. Any other favorite 2010 albums or tracks we should check out? 

PS: titus andronicus, hollerado, miniature tigers, drink up buttercup, kurt vile, war on drugs, gang, gayngs, sun airway, bear in heaven, kanye, robyn, beach house, EASTBOUND AND DOWN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

also, LOUIE! check this show out. louis c.k. writes and directs.

brilliant. silly. funny. sad.

5. My buddy Travis says if and when he and his better half, Missy, get married, you guys once said you might play their wedding. Uh, no pressure! But I'm curious: What do you imagine a hypothetical Free Energy wedding gig would be like?

PS: kegs. loud p.a. system. confetti explosions. zip line into hot tub filled with champagne.

chutes and ladders (LIFE SIZE!!).

bridesmaids orgy. 

6. People used to compare Hockey Night to Pavement; I saw an interview where you said you didn't listen to Pavement anymore. In the same interview, you (justifiably!) raved about Thin Lizzy; Stuck on Nothing is an album with a lot of classic rock reference points, including, if I'm not mistaken, some Thin Lizzy-style guitar harmonies. So, should we expect another big shift on the next Free Energy album?

PS: yes.

what connects "born in the u.s.a" to inxs' "kick?" synths? clinical production? wet snares and slapback on vocals?

all of these are correct.

the new free energy is gonna be huge, bombastic, clean, gnarly, melodic, dancey, live, and more like the late stones than it probably should.

thank you!


  1. Great Interview Marc, we were wondering if Hockey Night had played Des Moines, but were too lazy to do the research. Thanks for the shout outs.

  2. Thanks, Ryan-- but you guys are the ones who did a great job! It's cool to hear Paul's actual voice, and he seems like a really funny, nice dude. Plus, We Hate Music saved his life! Can't wait for the show. See you dudes Wednesday.