Gary James' Interview With Arleigh Kincheloe Of
And The Dirty Birds
Sister Sparrow And The Dirty Birds have been playing shows across the US, winning rave reviews in the process. Fronted by Arleigh Kincheloe, Sister Sparrow's star is on the rise. Arleigh Kincheloe talked with us about the band.
Q - Arleigh, you recently performed at The Lost Horizon in Syracuse, New York. Through the years quite a few up and coming famous bands have passed through the club; Bon Jovi, Twisted Sister, Queensryche. I don't know if anyone talked to you about the history of the club.
A - Yeah, they told us a little bit about it.
Q - What do you get out of playing a club like the Lost Horizon or any club for that matter?
A - Well, they are always different. There is something to be said about being in a room where you know a lot of cool music history has happened. We've experienced that around the country. We played the Oneonta Theatre in upstate New York a couple of times and that building itself, being so historic, it makes for a really interesting sort of vibe for us to play in. So, definitely knowing there's so many great people have come before you is a little bit of a thrill.
Q - This is an eight piece band. How is it economically feasible for you to be on the road? Did you have tour support behind you?
A - No, not really at all. We pay our own way as we go. We have a really great agency out of Nashville actually called New Frontier Touring. They take really good care of us in the way they get us the best offers possible. So, we're just out here on our own. We make it work. Obviously, you can imagine we don't make a lot of money personally, but we are able to keep the group going. I think we've all sacrificed a bit of some of the comforts we used to know. My brother and I, actually for the last year or so, have not an apartment in the city (New York City) anymore. When we are not on tour, which is not very often, (laughs) we're just kind of floating around. But it works. Our dad is still in the Catskills so we go take little vacations up there, if you can call them vacations. To answer your question, a little bit of sacrifice and also a lot of commitment with every member being dedicated to making it work no matter what.
Q - On average, how many gigs a year to you play?
A - Around 150, 175.
Q - That's a lot of gigging!
A - Yeah. (Laughs).
Q - In order to play that much, you have to pretty much get in a van and go everywhere.
A - Yes, absolutely. With that many shows we are obviously away from home over 200 days a year. It's pretty wild, but if you can find the joy in it then you will be okay I think. (Laughs). But it's hard.
Q - You were in the studio with Randy Jackson and he produced and EP for you.
A - Yeah. He produced our last EP.
Q - So, when you're in the studio with a guy like that who's the manager of Mariah Carey, do you pull him aside and say, "Hey Randy, is there anything you can do for us to get us to the next level? Can you refer us to anybody?" Did that conversation ever take place?
A - Not really, not between me and him. I think that's more of our manager's job. And they had a lot of conversations about what the next and most efficient step would be. Between the band and Randy, we had more of a friendly producer musician relationship. We didn't really talk a lot of business. We wanted to keep it more creative than that. But our manager is constantly asking everybody those questions and that's his role. We provide the creative side and then our team tries to fill in the blanks and everything else. Of course it's not an exact science these days. You are always hearing stories about people getting lucky. There's no secret weapon, I don't think, that we found anyway. (Laughs). So, it's a lot of hard work.
Q - You are out on the road promoting yourself the old-fashioned way, playing one club after another. Then, you have a Justin Bieber who is "discovered" after his mother posts a video of him on YouTube. Are you envious of the way Justin Bieber gained fame and fortune?
A - Well, I mean honestly, it's easy to have that feeling of why him and not us? But at the end of the day you have to remember that we are all musicians, we are all on the same team. Anybody's success is always going to be different. I don't even think I would want to do it that way. At the end of the day you can say, "Good for him. He did it his way and he got lucky that way and we are doing it our way." I definitely, every day of my life, love this way. I feel good about it. (Laughs).
Q - How'd you come up with the band's name, Sister Sparrow And The Dirty Birds?
A - Well, Sister Sparrow is a nickname that my older sister Lauren kind of gave to me. We were on a road trip together with my brother. We were in Arizona, staying at this place called The Desert Quail. We had been on the road a few days. We were all exhausted. We hadn't stopped driving, so we were finally taking a break. For some reason, I started calling her Mama Quail. (Laughs). Sister Sparrow sort of came out because she said, "You are too little to be a Mama." Dirty Birds seem to fit. My brother Jackson said he had heard it somewhere and I don't know why, he was just kind of throwing it out there. We had already been hearing that, so it just seemed to fit pretty well. (Laughs).