Hanging with The Hoosiers

hot Magazine, Issue 102, June 2008

Hanging with The Hoosiers
Alfonso Sharlando of the wacky trio on streaking, superheroes and FIFA 08

By Sophia Goh

You may have seen their superhero-themed music video for ‘Goodbye Mr. A’, but believe us when we say that’s just the tip of the Hoosier iceberg. The British three-piece band – comprising Irwin Sparkes, Martin Skarendahl and Alfonso Sharlando – have big ambitions for Hoosier, and it all starts with their debut album, The Trick To Life. We hear more from Al, who very kindly joins us for a chat from his flat in Hertfordshire, just north of London.

Why the name ‘Hoosiers’?
Well, basically Irwin, the lead singer, and I went to America for a year to play football and we ended up in Indiana. Everyone from there is called Hoosiers so when we came back we wanted to have something that connected us to that time in our lives.

We’ve heard about the football scholarship. Tell us a little bit more.
We just wanted to see the world. We really wanted to keep playing music but we also wanted to please our parents and do something with our lives. We wanted to go to America and we realised the only way to afford to go to America was to get a scholarship. So we kind of did up our CV and made us out to be slightly better than we are at football and they let us over, which was good.

What happened when they found out?
We weren’t too bad but we definitely weren’t as good as they were expecting. We just didn’t quite fit in, we didn’t achieve what we wanted to achieve, we didn’t achieve our goal of music and we didn’t excel in football so we were kind of failures. [So we] came back to London and did music like we were meant to do.

How would you describe your music?
It’s interesting because we’ve just started our second album. The way I’d describe it is melodic and we’re trying to keep it interesting. The context is not just about going out on Friday night; we write about things that mean something to ourselves and [we’re] trying to be creative and different with our sounds and lyrics I guess. We call it odd pop because it’s basically pop music but we’re trying to do something a little bit different.

Speaking of different, your music videos are really something. How do you guys come up with these concepts?
We can’t take all the credit because a lot of it goes to the director. I guess we’re just aware that you might only get one shot so we just want to do it as well as we can and experiment with the song. A lot of bands sit behind their instruments and kind of look cool and play along with their song. We want to be something different and have a story with the song. It was a combination of us wanting to be out there and the directors having a really good vision on how to portray the tracks for the video.

Do the three of you have specific roles within the band?
There’s always a balance in a good team, I think, because you can’t be a team if you’re all good at the same things. Irwin and I write more lyrics than Martin; Martin’s more technically inclined with the production side. The main thing is when we reach a decision it’s the three of us and that’s why we’re successful, I think.

In your ‘Goodbye Mr. A’ video, you guys dressed up as comic book type characters. Do you have a favourite comic book character and why?
My favourite would be Batman, because he’s self-made although he’s rich.

What are you guys like off camera?
We have our moments where we can be quite miserable, I think that’s human nature where we have our ups and downs, but basically we’re just trying to keep ourselves entertained, really, make sure that we’re enjoying ourselves all the time. But when it comes to the actual recording and writing of the music we’re as serious as we get. So it’s just a balance. But we’re pretty fun.

What’s the wildest thing you guys have ever done?
I can’t tell you for who, but we were a support act for a gig, and for the final gig we decided that to say goodbye we’d do a streak so we ran on naked after the last song. We can’t tell you who that was but there were quite a few people and we ran across the stage naked and then back. That’s probably the extreme, I suppose.

Did the fans appreciate it?
I don’t know. I think everyone found it quite funny.

Is it difficult to set yourselves apart from all the other artistes out there?
I think it’s very difficult. It’s also because we get compared to lots of different people which is slightly unfair sometimes because I think you get judged on just your singles and not the whole album, but what we tried to do with the album was to have an eclectic mix of tracks.

So how do you guys want to be known?
Right now we just want to experiment and push sounds and do something different together. I’d like us to be known as a band who tried to do something different musically and visually and live; we want to be exciting, I guess, that’s all we want to do.

Do you think you’ve succeeded in doing that so far?
Err, no, not completely. I think we’ll only have succeeded after maybe three or four albums.

You guys play FIFA 08 on the ‘Goodbye Mr. A’ video as well. Who’s the best player among you three?
Oh, that’s me. I played against the world champion on the weekend.

Wow. How did that go?
He beat me easily. I mean, that’s the world champion. But I play more than the other guys, I think.

Did you put up a good fight?
I always put up a good fight. I lost convincingly.

When the three of you go out, which one of you is best at picking up girls?
Martin. Definitely. [Irwin and I] are wingmen, but we’ve both got girlfriends.

Tell us a little bit about your girlfriend.
We met at university about six years ago. We’ve been going out for six years. But, yeah, I wouldn’t want to talk about it too much.

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