Cornered and Shot by Sparks Fly From A Kiss | INTERVIEW
Author: Thommy Delaney

Sparks Fly From A Kiss had been around since the early 2000s. But they're still releasing music in 2024! Though their album, "Cornered and Shot," was released just this year, these songs weren't written recently! We'll learn more about that and much more in this exclusive interview with Sparks Fly From A Kiss. Without any further delay, let's turn it over to John Simek from the band!

Hey there John Simek from Sparks Fly From a Kiss! Congrats on your recent album "Cornered and Shot"! Tell us a bit about how you guys got together and where the name of the band came from.

Thanks, Ralph and I used to work together at this bar and restaurant and we started hanging out after work and playing music together. The band name was actually taken from an instrumental song of the same title, by a project I was in called the Venus Explosion. It was this jam session that I caught on tape, which turns into this high-octane eruption

You can check it out here

Anyway, I played that track for Ralph after work one night and he suggested we should name our band that. So that's how that came about.

The sound of the band definitely feels psychedelic, spacey, and experimental. What were some of your musical inspirations that led you to develop the sound of the band?

During that time, we all liked the Pixies, Spiritualized, Pink Floyd. We were really into early 70's Pink Floyd. I remember for a while I was constantly watching the making of The Dark Side of the Moon and Live in Pompeii.

The songs from your new album were written back in the early 2000s. But you decided to release them now in 2024. Why weren't they released back then and what made you decide to release them now?

We had accumulated a lot of recordings over the years and aside from some singles, we had only put out one EP in 2003. This new album is actually a compilation of several recordings. Half of the songs were left over from the recordings from our first self-titled EP. The other half were a batch of songs that we were working on while we were going through one of our many line-up changes. In fact, we didn't have a drummer at the time, so Ralph played drums on those tracks.

A few years back I started the process of cleaning up and digitizing the recordings from my youth. I started with the album that we released in 2018 called The Swell. Much like The Swell, the recordings that make up Cornered and Shot were from twenty plus years ago. These bounced mixes were all we had left from that time period. We weren't able to remix anything. We couldn't access the original master sessions, which were done on ADAT and 2" reel to reel and then dumped into computers later. I had to clean up a lot of clicks and pops and tame a lot of frequencies before mastering it. It's an immense amount of work because you're constantly sculpting the song while trying to retain the original integrity of what was recorded at the time. I worked on it in my spare time, eventually finished it up last year, and then felt it was time to put these tracks out there.

With the title of the album being "Cornered and Shot", there must be a story behind it. Why did you guys decide to go with this title?

I remember our buddy Joe filled in on drums for a festival we did down in NC and he used that phrase to describe something, I don't remember what, but it made me laugh. For some reason it stuck with me all these years. I thought it fit nicely with the cover art which was from a photoshoot my wife and I did where we used snow as a canvas back in '08. I also thought it reflected a feeling of being trapped, much like these songs were, for a long time, just sitting on a hard drive.

"Emergency Breakthrough" is a song that modern and old school music lovers will enjoy! Not only does it have the psychedelic vibe, it's got a total late 60s influence and musical hooks all over. All the elements that are in there make the song and really vibe well with and complement the title. What are you guys singing about in this track and how did you come to arrange the song that way?

That was one I wrote when I was 18 and had recorded as a demo with the Venus Explosion. We re-worked it and introduced it into the Sparks set. I love the guitar work Ralph plays on it. It reminds me of early Stones records, and Steve's got some really spacey samples that gives it a vintage sound cut with modern elements. The title is super dated because there used to be an option for making an "emergency breakthrough" on landlines if there was a busy signal, prior to call waiting. The operator would cut into your conversation and tell you that you had an emergency call from so and so. The lyrics abstractly describe a guy trying to get back to his girl.

"Searching for John Wayne" is certainly an interesting song on this album. Where did the title and lyrics come from and what are they related to?

That's another one that was a recycled song that came out of my college years. That track was also integrated into the Sparks catalog and we fine-tuned it. It is a tongue in cheek one about looking for the American Dream but coming up short.

What advice would you give to someone just starting out writing their own songs?

Just write songs that sound good to you; make stuff that you like to listen to. Don't cater to other people or worry about making a "hit". Write songs you would objectively like to put on in your house or your car.

Are there any shows coming up that you are excited to announce?

No, we're not a band anymore. This record is just a nice time capsule from our youth.

Is there anything else we can look forward to from you guys anytime in the future?

This record is pretty much the final piece of our catalog, although I do have some really beautiful, intimate demo recordings that we made in my old bed room in New Brunswick. Maybe I'll get around to putting that together down the line. Right now, I'm pretty focused on my current project called The Clean Crime Scene. I write songs and record them with my wife and other musically inclined friends.

Is there anything you would like to share with our readers?

If you like the Sparks songs, check out our current projects. Ralph's band San Tropez is releasing their 2nd album this year and I'm planning to release the debut album from The Clean Crime Scene called Raw Cuts, slated for late fall of this year.

Artist Bio
Sparks Fly from a Kiss was an American rock band formed in New Brunswick, NJ in 2000 when Ralph Nicastro (Wreaths, San Tropez, The Clean Crime Scene) and John Simek (The Venus Explosion, The Clean Crime Scene) met while working at a bar and restaurant. Various members would join over the years to help add melody and depth to the music. From straight ahead guitar anthems to angelic space jams, and from fuzzy pop gems to sonic dirges; melding great hooks with dissonance and technology, Sparks created a cunning bold sound.





About the Author: Thommy Delaney is a Senior Music Business Major at New Jersey City University. He is also the lead guitarist and a vocalist in the Bayonne Indie pop-rock band BreakTime: a four-piece writing modern pop tunes with generous vintage allusions to artists such as The Beatles, The Beach Boys, and Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers. Looking for something new to listen to? Be sure to follow BreakTime @breaktimelivenj on social media and stream their music on all platforms.

Return to Homepage