Submarines, dying hawks and cardiac arrests are all in a day’s work for the Sparklehorse singer. Rodger Evans tries to make sense of it all.
Lady Luck tnust have walked out on Mark Linkous. packed her bags and left a Post-It note on the fridge. So long. That or a gleeful practitioner of the dark arts has been using a wax effigy of the Sparklehorse singer as a pin cushion. For the softly spoken Virginian had a bizarre hath tub-related accident in January and. after laying unconscious for fourteen hours. suffered a cardiac arrest.
When he should have been enjoying the salivating acclaim lauded on the band‘s delightful debut long player - think Simon and Garfunkel on valium or Smashing Pumpkins minus the cynicism - Linkous found himself holed up in a London hospital for three months.
‘It was terrible but my wife was there and the nurses were great. The day before I got out. a couple of them took toe to the movies.‘ explains Linkous. The film? ‘Dead Man Walking!‘
Eight months and nine operations later. .- . ‘l‘m still feeling the effects of it. The pain is pretty bad.‘ he
Dark horse sprigth
says. somewhat blithely. ‘I can walk with a cane but I have to play in a wheelchair. I can‘t really stand up because I barely have any movement in my toes.’ And is he intimidated by the prospect of gigging again? ‘lt‘s a bit scary because a lot of our stuff is so quiet that it‘s hard opening for other bands. l'd really like
‘I had a dream I was with General Lee and we were swimming toward this crude submarine. A string band were playing inside but the music was distorted underwater.’
to tour with Many Star or The Palace Brothers.‘
The band is very much Mark‘s project. Most ofthe album was made at his home on an eight-track with the conscription of various muso buddies. David Lowery of Camper Van Beethoven and Johnny Hott of House Of Freaks are but two collaborators. ‘l)avid helped me a lot and when neither him or I could fake something. we'd call a friend.
‘I love to hear songs finished in my head even before I start reeording.’ he says of the creative process. ‘You have to swim across the river to get there. That‘s hard. It doesn't end upexactly like you
Sparklehorse: galloping to recovery
want or sometimes you make a mistake and it turns out to be a surprise. There's a lot of nice little surprises on the record.‘
()f the artists that inspired him to record in the first place. he cites Daniel Johnson — American godfather of lo-ii — as a big influence. but ‘to start playing. I was probably most impressed by Johnny Cash. He just seemed so cool.‘
Animals feature as a regular subject of Sparklehorse songs. The quiet American shares a home with assorted cats. dogs. horses and lizards. And ‘Harnmering The Cramps'. one of the LP's more tip- beat tracks. is a tale worthy of an episode of/lm'mul Huspiml. Having discovered an injured Hawk in his driveway. Mark was fearful his feathered patient wasn‘t going to make it. ‘Rigor mortis was setting in so I kept rubbing him.‘ he explains. ‘His eyes were so intense — predator eyes. I called up a wildlife refuge the next day and they fixed him up.’
From whence. though. I enquire in a bitchy-where- did-she-get-that-dress-manner. came the anything but straight forward title of the record — Virmlixiesu/mrurrm'Irmlsmissimip/nl‘?
‘I had a dream I was with General Lee and we were swimming toward this crude submarine. A string band were playing inside but the music was distorted underwater.‘ Weird. Jules Verne. eat your heart out. .S'prrr/r/e/Im'se play Kng Tut's. Glusgmr: mt W '(I 2/.
102 The List l6-22 Aug I996