Agent Sparks have discovered a cure for the common hangover: their new album, of course.
In an attempt to summarize the band's quirky, arty pop-rock, frontman Ben Einziger, brother of Incubus guitarist Mike Einziger, credited the recently released Red Rover with possessing just the right amount of "brunch rock" for those whose heads are pounding from the night before.
"It's not quite early enough for breakfast, but it's not quite lunch time when I'd want to hear it," Einziger said. "It's right around brunch, when you're not making eggs, you're making omelets. You could have a flank steak, maybe you could have an Arnold Palmer — not necessarily orange juice, but I like Bloody Marys around the time I'm listening to my music."
For those who don't normally associate their drinks or meals with certain styles of music, critics have compared Agent Sparks to the Pixies, and the band certainly has elements in common with past and future tourmates like Phantom Planet, 30 Seconds to Mars, Fall Out Boy and Veruca Salt.
The band's secret weapon is Stephanie Eitel, a Los Angeles singer/songwriter (and the "Gimmie gimmie!" backup singer on Weezer's "Beverly Hills") who Einziger recruited to join stepbrother/bassist Paul Fried's project a few years back. Former summer-camp friend George Purviance came on board as the drummer later.
Agent Sparks have also had some help from Ben's famous bro, who produced Red Rover in-between his Incubus duties (see "Incubus' 'Mad Workaholic' Guitarist In Studio With Band After Many Side Projects").
"He didn't go into producing something to make it glossy or change tons of things," Ben Einziger said. "A big thing he worked on with us was making sure that the music sounds great before you do anything, before you do singing, before you think of production ideas — let's get the core of the song down. So I would say he stripped the fat off some of the songs."
Musically, Incubus and Agent Sparks are different beasts, but Ben has certainly learned a thing or two from his big brother's multiplatinum-selling band.
"I realized it was really important to have that grassroots following of believers and people who support our music, and not to worry about becoming the biggest overnight success, because I don't feel like people want that," Einziger said. "I feel like people want something real and honest and soulful, and I felt like Incubus have always been that band."
Agent Sparks are following in those footsteps with a packed tour schedule, although they're also working the radio with "Polly Anne," a favorite on Los Angeles radio station Indie 103. " 'Polly Anne' is just a story about a girl who made bad decisions and suffered the consequences, and was put into positions in which she didn't necessarily have a choice, which I'm sure a lot of people can get put in," Einziger said. "But it's kind of up to interpretation."
For the second single, the band is eyeing either "Face the Day" or "Mr. Insecurity." Einziger described the latter as one of the most difficult songs he's written. "It's just an introspective song that I wrote about my own anxieties and my own hardships of dealing with panic attacks and anxiety attacks and personal insecurities — just sort of trying to break away from those, to put those in our music and feeling comfortable about being uninhibited," Einziger said.
"Face the Day," on the other hand, is about being inspired to be who you are. "Try to be authentic and sincere and soulful, that's the best thing in the world," Einziger said. "I feel like everyone has the potential to be an artist in their own way, it's just the hardest thing to feel like you can be who you are with all your imperfections. But I think imperfections are what make people beautiful."
Agent Sparks tour dates, according to the band's record label:
- 9/17 - San Diego, CA @ Brick by Brick
- 9/20 - West Hollywood, CA @ Key Club (with Veruca Salt)
- 9/21 - Santa Ana, CA @ Galaxy Theatre (with Veruca Salt)
- 9/23 - Denver, CO @ Soiled Dove (with Veruca Salt)
- 9/25 - Sauget, IL @ Pop's (with Veruca Salt)
- 9/26 - Milwaukee, WI @ Miramar Theatre (with Veruca Salt)
- 9/27 - Madison, WI @ Majestic Theatre (with Veruca Salt)
- 9/28 - Minneapolis, MN @ Triple Rock Social Club (with Veruca Salt)
- 9/29 - Chicago, IL @ Double Door (with Veruca Salt)
- 9/30 - Mount Clemens, MI @ Hayloft Liquor Stand (with Veruca Salt)
- 10/2 - Cleveland, OH @ House of Blues (with Veruca Salt)
- 10/3 - Pittsburgh, PA @ Rex Theatre (with Veruca Salt)
- 10/4 - New York, NY @ The Canal Room (with Veruca Salt)
- 10/6 - Springfield, VA @ Jaxx (with Veruca Salt)
- 10/6 - Miami, FL @ Rathskellar
- 10/7 - Spartanburg, SC @ Ground Zero (with Veruca Salt)
- 10/9 - Atlanta, GA @ Smith's Olde Bar (with Veruca Salt)
- 10/11 - Little Rock, AR @ Juanita's (with Veruca Salt)
- 10/12 - New Orleans, LA @ Parish at House of Blues (with Veruca Salt)
- 10/13 - Houston, TX @ Engine Room (with Veruca Salt)
- 10/14 - San Antonio, TX @ White Rabbit (with Veruca Salt)
- 10/15 - Dallas, TX @ Galaxy Club (with Veruca Salt)
- 10/17 - Albuquerque, NM @ Launchpad (with Veruca Salt)
- 10/18 - Tempe, AZ @ The Clubhouse (with Veruca Salt)
- 10/19 - San Diego, CA @ Canes (with Veruca Salt)