Annie Sparrows closes the book on the Soviettes and Awesome Snakes

(Annie Sparrows, left)
(Annie Sparrows, left)

Annie Sparrows--like the rest of her former Soviettes bandmates Danny Henry, Maren Macosko, and Susy Sharp--never slowed down for a moment when the band went on hiatus five years ago. That's probably because her usual speed is full steam ahead. By the time the Soviettes came to life, she was already a veteran of several local bands including the original lineup of Cadillac Blindside, The Hostages, and International Robot. Since their breakup, she's become a parent and homeowner while still finding time to work full time and play in Awesome Snakes and God Damn Doo Wop Band. (That's two bands more than most people manage.)

This week, in between work, family, eating Mexican food, and planning what to do with her eventual lottery winnings, she's cramming with her former bandmates for two reunion shows, tonight at Eclipse Records and tomorrow night at the Turf Club. Sadly, these double as Awesome Snakes' last shows as well. Still, she took a few minutes out of her day to talk to us about being a grownup while keeping your rock and roll lifestyle, raising her daughter, and the downside of snowmobiles when there's no snow.

It's been five years since the Soviettes went on hiatus/broke up, and now you're being a Soviette again, if just for a weekend. How have things changed for you in that time?

Well, now, instead of partying every day and working as little as possible,  I have a full time day job (the first in my life) at a music house (commercials), bought a house in Powderhorn, and had a daughter.  She's 2 and a half.  She's way cooler than me and growing up fast so it's easier to get time to play music again.

What inspired you to be in a band? Who were some of your heroes? What still excites you now that you're a little older and a little wiser?

My parents are musicians, so it was always kind of a given that I would play music, I guess.  I didn't think about it that way when I was younger, but I never thought twice about it - it was always something I just did.  Once I discovered punk rock and got old enough to go to shows by myself (around 12) it seemed obvious to me for some sad reason that that was the way to go.  I had some really bad bands in high school and some less bad bands afterward.  I had really mixed influences when I was learning how to play guitar.  I was obsessed with Dinosaur Jr and Sonic Youth but also Metallica and the Descendents.  Now I mostly listen to artsy lo-fi garage bands like thee Oh Sees or Ty Segal, and some more "songwriter-y" stuff like Kurt Vile.  I'm less excited by bands or records than I am by songs, a symptom of the internet and doing licensing as part of a way to make a living, I suppose.


What's your most embarrassing rock and roll story?

I'll tell you what, I don't embarrass easily....but oh, ok!  One time when we [the Soviettes] were on tour with Against Me!, we played a college in Anchorage, Alaska.  Afterward, we got ourselves invited to a house party where we proceeded to get entirely too drunk and take over the record player etc, etc.  Well, in the garage at this house party I spotted a snowmobile and at that particular shining moment there was nothing in the world more important to me than getting the two closest people (James and Andrew) to sit on that stupid thing and take pictures pretending that we were riding it through the woods.  Even though we were in a garage...and there was no snow.  Or trees.  Then I fell off of it right on my tailbone in front of like forty people and had to get on a plane to Hawaii the next day which was like a nine hour flight of pure hell.  I couldn't walk properly for about four weeks and had to keep explaining,
"I fell off a snowmobile."

"Oh no how fast were you going?  Did you hit anything?"

"No.  It was parked.  In a garage.  In Alaska."

You, like everyone in the Soviettes, have kept busy since the hiatus. Since Awesome Snakes are also playing their last show, are you planning anything new?

I'm in a new to-be-named band with Kat Naden (Strait A's / God Damn Doo Wop Band) and Shawn Leonard (Vacation Bible School) and I'm also writing a countryish/folky kinda record to release as "Sweet Anita Sparrows" and some songs to do with Jesse "Pretty Boy" Thorson at some point.  GDDWB is playing a record release show with Vacation Bible School this Thursday night (3/18) at the Hexagon w/ The Slow Death and Blue Mountain Band [after the Soviettes show at Eclipse Records].  We'll finish our record and probably play out of town a little bit this summer too.

Advice column time: a) what wisdom would you share with pre-Soviettes Annie Sparrows, knowing what you do now? b) What would pre-Soviettes Annie want you to never forget?

a)  Don't take it seriously.
b)  Don't take any shit.

Special parent to parent bonus question: is your daughter going to think you're cool, or think this whole rock and roll momma thing is weird?

I have no idea, but she likes it for now anyway.  She asks if bands on the radio are my band a lot and recognizes records I sung on when she hears them.  She also likes coming to practice and we play drums and guitars and sing together all the time at home.  She loves to sing and already makes up her own songs so it would SEEM that she might like to do that when she gets older too, but who knows, man.  It's gonna be tough for her to rebel - she will probably join the Young Republicans League and marry a banker or something.

The Soviettes and Awesome Snakes play final shows tonight with That's Incredible and The Gateway District at Eclipse Records, (1922 University Avenue, Saint Paul), 7 PM, all ages, $7; and Friday down the street at the Turf Club (1601 University Avenue, Saint Paul), 9:00 PM, 21+, $7.

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