Sparklehorse European Tour Closer Scrapped By Greek Quake

Athens show would have been the last on trek premiering songs planned for new album.

When the members of Sparklehorse arrived in Athens on Tuesday

night, they expected to jump in a van and head to their hotel to get

ready for their Wednesday night (Sept. 8) show.

Instead, they were greeted in the ancient city by the wail of

ambulances, the flashing of sirens and a sense of panic. A deadly

5.9-magnitude earthquake had shaken the city just two hours earlier.

"I'm having dinner now in a very nice restaurant while there are

people buried in concrete not far from us," bandleader Mark Linkous

said Wednesday night after the cancellation of his band's show at

Athens' Camel Club. "I see a lot of people sleeping in their cars

because they're afraid to go in their houses. I see people smoking

cigarettes and sleeping in their cars ... but not at the same time."

Linkous' deadpan delivery was in keeping with his musical persona in

Sparklehorse, which last year produced the critically acclaimed,

introspective folk album Good Morning Spider. Several songs on

that album dealt with the Virginia rocker's own tragedy, a near-fatal

1996 overdose in a London hotel room that inspired such Pixies-like

fuzzed-out punk songs as "Pig" (RealAudio excerpt)

and the hushed acoustic number "St. Mary's" (RealAudio excerpt).

The Athens earthquake has claimed more than 60 lives so far, according

to media reports, with more than 100 buildings having collapsed from

what authorities said was the biggest quake to hit the city this

century.

Linkous, who said he was accustomed to earthquakes from having lived

for years in California, said the group decided to leave their hotel

when a 4.5-magnitude aftershock caused it to "wobble."

The ill-fated Athens concert was to be the final date on a summer

European club tour that Linkous said included debut performances of

songs he plans to include on the next, as-yet-untitled Sparklehorse

album. Among the tunes Linkous said he will soon begin working on in

his Virginia home studio is "Bloody Hands," which he said he hopes

will feature a cameo from cracked-voice troubadour Tom Waits.

Linkous sent a tape to Waits months ago and asked him to contribute

vocals.

"He calls periodically and apologizes for being lazy," Linkous said of

Waits, "but no tape yet."

Linkous said he has also discussed collaborating with British rock

singer PJ Harvey on a song tentatively titled "Baby's on the Sun."

"I'll send her a tape," Linkous said of Harvey, "because we have the

same recording machine."

The new Sparklehorse album is tentatively scheduled for release next

year, Linkous said.