Sparks are the brothers Ron and Russell Mael, a legendary duo from Los Angeles. Over the last 50 years, they’ve released 25 albums. They’ve collaborated with Giorgio Moroder and Franz Ferdinand, and they’ve influenced bands like Joy Division, Faith No More, Björk, and countless others. Director Edgar Wright, whose films include Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, Baby Driver, and Scott Pilgrim vs the World, has made a documentary about the band called The Sparks Brothers. It premiered at Sundance, and comes out in theaters on Friday, June 18th. In this episode, Ron and Russell break down their hit, “This Town Ain’t Big Enough for Both of Us," which came out in 1974, and changed their careers forever.
To learn more, visit songexploder.net/sparks
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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
You're listening to song exploder, where musicians take apart their songs and piece by piece tell the story of how they were made. My name is received. Your way saw.
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bigger cinema buffs so
we've always had this kind of rationale that in making
pop songs, you're able
make the most elaborate movie in your own mind in a three minute song: that's Russell mail.
He and his brother RON Mail are the legendary duo sparks from LOS Angeles of the last
fifty years. They released twenty five albums. They ve collaborated
Georgia, Giorgio Marauder and Franz Ferdinand and influenced bands like joy, division, faith, no, more Bjork and countless others there's
documentary about them called the sparks brothers made by one of my
effort rector's at great his building.
Who'd Shaun of the dead, hot fuzz baby driver and
pilgrim versus the World than
documentary premiered at Sundance is here and comes
in theaters this Friday June eighteenth. Here's. What
Wright says in the intro of film sparks
how did this glam rock anomaly become a band with a career spanning five decades? How can RON and Russell Mael be successful, underrated, hugely influential and overlooked all at the same time,
and where does one even start, with twenty five studio albums and nearly five hundred songs we're going to start with,
just one song for this,
RON and Russell breakdown, one of their hits. This town
it big enough for both of us which
in nineteen? Seventy four and change
their career forever
the original tracks from their recording are long gone, but they
recorded the song a while ago and for the purposes of this discussion you here
those isolated tracks and
you'll hear the original one. Seventy four recording,
I'm Russell mail from sparks, and this is wrong mail from sparks. We move
between seventy three, but we had
I too am sound in the sea,
previously but they solve.
In a very slow fashion. We
played one show in the: U, with
the band that we had at the time
island records, really
the song writing and they really liked the singing and thought if we,
british musicians around
The US that there are
something there that they could
russell- and I just
There were no songs, so
a period of about
its mines. I was
what are the songs that came up?
was this town ain't big enough for the both of us
RON had played me the song just on this upright piano,
I thought it was really striking.
It sounded very classical like a classical melody
there weren't any lyrics for it at the time. We all
always have the music first and then
very Slater just because we don't
the music structure to be restricted by
the kind of a very
the lyrics we were.
Can you figure out some
the song, was kind of cinematic in a way. So the west.
Please cliche this tiny
enough for the both of us? I don't know it just kind
came to tomorrow, sometime
There might be an initial lyric that he Rice it did, I think, maybe
didn't match the tone.
If the melody
and so I'll kindly
requester to like a movie studio or we're going to need a rewrite. On that, sir, I get notes
but for this town, because
the song is so I nor
ox that lyric
I don't even know if I was able to judge whether that's a good good lyrica of that lyric, but it was such an interesting lyric, but then I was going
How am I going to sing that
enough for the both of us. You know it's a pretty big
now for the Sony Big enough for the both of us and
that melody that played
on the right hand was exists
play? The melody that I sang so there's some
vocal acrobatics to be able to have to sing.
That Song GD, except for Sunday, you dove into the cafe to see heartbeat, increasing, not bit sweaty can to boost the protein. Just like you do this. So they begin the photo this
a lot of it's really high the singing. At that time. We
and even consider, things like transposing song
was to a a key, that's more suitable for a singer. We just said: well, that's the key wrote it as he had a sing it in that key, and I think that helped to kind of
dictate the style of the singing for that song, just via the melody that RON had written, not big enough for both of us. This one is big enough, not big enough for both of us. Have we
to have the lyrics done when we,
actually rehearsing with the band because it changes the
character of the song SUI
gathered together a group of
fish musicians through various ads and
We went into the studio first with the band and
arrange the song the guitar player was.
Adrian Fisher, the drummer was dinky diamond. The bass player was Martin Gordon, and we wanted to be a rock song. Even if the melody is kind of classically tinged the it was really
difficult for them, because I didn't ever really
things that were whose writing it. I had no consideration for either
sorry to guitarist to anybody else ages was writing.
the melody that the right hand of run on
keyboard that done on that line became adopted by the guitar player
The song is so strict that what they
could do was limited
but they didn't incredible job time. So you see the denied it increase in our bit under a beating minus indifference and tacky tigers, stomach for the both of us, each other.
versus is kind of a little vignette in a moment
passion and hope for
a guy and then
it escalates into this overly dramatic,
situation? Where, where what began is
shyness or something in the in the encounter, becomes
I do a cinematic
area, with the lyrics like just going to the zoo, and then it becomes something. Much
more dramatic than that
The thing happens in in each
sighing, do mystic fucking, then, when the stewardesses do not show the fear, increasing khaki colored my duty to receive the new Sony Big enough for the both of us. I think
is that the leap from the everyday
kind of like a hyper emotional
cinematic area, and especially with regard
our two, a romantic situation. Flying
stick flying and when the stewardess is near
not show any fear heartbeat, increasing the heartbeat. You are a khaki
Colored Bombardier is Hiroshima that you're nearing
the protagonist of the song is
and just some simple
I, then he has said,
kind of fantasy about the stewardess and then, in his own mind it kind of becomes him being a pilot. At the moment,
of the bombing in world war. Two, you know I've written,
lyrics in the past were at the
when they seem appropriate and now
days? I just wonder what God
to me at the time.
Increasing our bit is worrying, fallen down the bullets. Gonna catch, you don't know, it's only been given the further both of us there.
As the time where we were asked
considering having a different cliched move
tag line at the end of each one, but we decided to go play it.
Even so was big enough for the both of us every single time
Who is one other controversial
decision making moment, which sounds really trivial, but
the gunshot in the song. It was whether adding a gunshot is really tacky or
or whether that's kind of cool, and so we decided well, it might be
little tacky, but it is kind of cool, but
finding one didn't sound like a bad sound effect. We had
access to the BBC, Sound library which is unbelievable, and so they found a gun show
there was the
drink one for the song
the decision of whether something is tacky in a bad.
way or who use
they just because of our nature. If it
to bathing whether it should be an error or should be an, we desire
go with it in and we'll take. The consequences we were so happy
we had Muff Winwood produce
that song cuz. He.
was the bass player of the Spencer Davis Group with his
last year's brother Stevie when Word supper, ass, being a anger
files, this was a dream
come true to be working with Muff Winwood,
and so must came to the studio, and we play
him a lot of the material that we we had but
this particularly struck by this song. We always kind of thought of it as being too weird for a feature
song on on the album. But he wanted to be bold
the whole thing, and so the weird song is the
the single, and we got
on top of the pops after that, and the song became a big hit so
for having to arms. It did
a thing in the? U S, our dream.
Becoming a you.
a ban was actually fulfilled.
primarily through that one song at the time, and we didn't realize I dont think what that ultimately win
mean that the reaction would be so intense. So it was, it was a real shock, but
an amazingly happy shock,
You gotta think back
What would have happened if this had happened in sight wouldn't be
You're right doctrine, Sri, it's like unbelievable, you kind of go back and
about those. What ifs is just
It turned out was incredibly fortunate.
and now here's this town, ain't big enough for both of us by sparks in its entirety
song, exploder, dot, net, slash sparks to learn more you'll, find,
to buy or stream this town ain't big enough for both of us, and you can
the trailer for the new documentary, the sparks brothers. Special thanks
This episode to EDGAR Right and near a park
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Transcript generated on 2022-03-27.