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Intersection of Life and Faith

A Sprinkle in Time

  • Andy Argyrakis Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2004 26 Jan
A Sprinkle in Time
Unless you're a devout indie rock and underground music fan, the name Aaron Sprinkle may not spark immediate recognition. As a solo artist, the pensive singer/songwriter has crafted his share of thought-provoking releases, but he's always been plagued with bad distribution and minimal label support. Though his post-grunge band Poor Old Lu has influenced many of Christian music's alternative acts, it never broke through commercially. But Sprinkle has found another way to break through-as a well-respected producer, working mostly with the Tooth & Nail label group. We recently talked to the Seattle resident about his many roles.How did your partnership with Tooth & Nail come about?Aaron SprinkleIt goes back to about '93 when I met Brandon [T&N founder Brandon Ebel]. He worked for Frontline at the time when Poor Old Lu got signed to them. We became good friends back then. A year later, I found a band called MxPx, and offered to do a free demo and give it to Brandon. After that, I worked independently for eight years doing other jobs in between.Four years ago I heard rumors of him wanting to put a studio together, so when it finally was built, I asked if I could come down and see it. I had just settled into a job with a video game publisher, had been married 10 years and had a son, so I had pretty much come to terms with full-time music not being a reality. But after Brandon invited me in to finish my third solo record [Bareface], I really felt like his studio was the direction to go.I talked to my wife about quitting my job and getting set back up with Brandon, and she was all for it. Brandon was blown away by my desire and kind of shocked I'd quit my steady job after just shy of a year. Turns out two months later, my department at that job shut down and everybody was laid off, so it was a decision for the best. At first I was just doing demos for him, sort of just to prove myself. It wasn't until the Kutless record when I really broke though, and now he believes in me and gives me the best jobs.What was it like to cultivate Kutless' talents in the studio?SprinkleThat was a really interesting experience. At first I was bummed, because hard rock isn't my bag. But instead of complaining, I embraced the project and opened up my mind. I had fun with it and made the project a personal challenge. I went out and bought all the popular CDs, tried to understand what they were about, and went into production mode with that frame of mind. More recently, you've produced Thousand Foot Krutch. By then, were you more comfortable with hard rock?SprinkleAs I've focused on that style more, it's become a lot more natural to me. With the TFK record, one goal was to really load it up with radio-friendly songs. I've always secretly loved those three-minute perfect pop songs. One of my friends came in the studio and said that record reminded him of hanging out at the roller rink in sixth grade listening to "Pour Some Sugar on Me" on the jukebox.How are you able to switch gears from that style to the art pop of Pedro the Lion and Starflyer 59, then to a worship project like Telecast?SprinkleIt's actually easier than to stick with one thing for me. I really think I have a bit of ADD in me. It's really nice to keep my records fresh, and it gives me something different to look forward to all the time.Do you approach each band with your own ideas, or do you focus more on the visions the artists bring to the table?SprinkleIt varies depending on the band and the situation. I engineer and produce the records, so I'm involved in the technical and creative side. For instance, on the Starflyer record Old, they had a really clear vision before they came in. I'm trying to translate what they're describing to me and interjecting my two cents along the way. On TFK, I played guitar and co-wrote all the songs because they didn't have all the parts ready. Obviously, I stepped into a more directive role as a result of those contributions.How has playing in Poor Old Lu prepared you for your production career?SprinkleI just can't go back to that period enough. I feel like I only spent four or five weeks with the guy, but 90 percent of what I learned as a producer was from Terry Taylor during that career period. It's not so much a list of rules, and I didn't even know he was teaching me at the time, but I have little flashbacks of what he did with our songs. It taught me to take a very balanced approach to production, with a little bit of scientific basis—like how long a song should be—to letting the song tell you when it's supposed to change and what's happening next. Is there a future for Poor Old Lu?SprinkleI really don't see that happening. You might get different reactions from some of the other members, but my heart is not in it at all. I've been struggling for the last year and a half to make another solo record and haven't been able to because I don't have time. I'm always working on other projects. My heart is way more into my solo stuff than Poor Old Lu. I really think that our time has gone. That's not a bad thing. We ended the band at a good time and had fun doing it. I don't want to beat a dead horse.Speaking of your next solo release, it's called Lackluster. What can we expect on that project?SprinkleA compilation of songs I've had on my independent albums from my old labels. Organic went under. Silent Planet couldn't really do anything for me. Pamplin barely had any distribution whatsoever. Since Brandon is an honest-to-goodness fan of my music, he's seen an untapped potential for those songs and wants to get them to a wider base of people who may not have heard them the first time around. There'll also be one new song for the people who may already have those other records.What do you have in mind for your next project of all new material?SprinkleI'm actually starting a new band called Fair. Imagine it as a rock band, not an acoustic alt rock sort of thing. It won't have my name on the spine, but probably a sticker on the front letting people know of my involvement. Who will you be producing in '04?SprinkleI'm doing the new Demon Hunter next. I've done the new Kutless, which I'm super excited about. I think it's going to be awesome because we've really carved a distinct style that builds off the success of the last one. I did half of the new Jeremy Camp CD. I'll keep an open mind to whatever else Brandon may want to do after that. It's always exciting to have an open slate and have so much variety come along the way.Visit www.aaronsprinkle.net to learn more about this talented artist and producer. Lackluster releases February 10, 2004. Visit Christianbook.com to listen to sound clips and buy his music