Forget ‘Baa Baa Black Sheep’ or ‘Hush, Little Baby’, have you ever wanted to hear a lullaby version of Paramore? Indianapolis cradle-rockers Sparrow Sleeps have made a career out of reinterpreting the likes of Blink-182, Alkaline Trio and Jimmy Eat World in a somnolent style, and have just released QUIET! (a pun on Paramore’s second album RIOT!), featuring slumber-ready versions of ‘Misery Business’ and ‘crushcrushcrush’ (sadly not renamed ‘hushhushhush’).
Paramore frontwoman Hayley Williams is a fan, commenting, “I always thought if someone did nursery rhyme versions of our music then we really would’ve made it. And here we are! So excited to play this record for my future emo-babies.”
NME caught up with Casey Cole – one half of Sparrow Sleeps – to find out more. You can listen to their rendition of ‘Still Into You’ underneath.
How did this all start?
“In 2013, I had a daughter – Sparrow Lucille – and started a band, Sparrow Sleeps, because I was looking for lullaby versions of bands I listened to to put her to sleep but none existed. It grew from there. We’ve done lullaby albums of Brand New [‘Your Favourite Lullabies’], Taking Back Sunday [Quieter Now] and The Gaslight Anthem [‘Infant Slag’] – just popular pop-punk bands. Paramore’s ‘QUIET!’ is our 26th release.”
Why choose Paramore?
“I first saw them on the Warped tour after their debut ‘All We Know Is Falling’ came out. Hayley came up to me and begged ‘come and see my band play’. I remember thinking ‘they’re so young and good’. I’ve followed them since then and watched them explode. We thought their melodies would translate well to harps and glockenspiels – and they did.”
Which Paramore number makes kids nod off the fastest?
“Sparrow likes ‘Anklebiters’ the best. That’s one of the happiest songs we’ve done on the album. Songs like ‘Misery Business’, ‘Ignorance’ and ‘crushcrushcrush’ kind of have a dark feel to them, but it’s the poppier ones – ‘Ain’t It Fun’ and ‘Still Into You’ – she leans towards.”
Which you be collaborating with any of the bands you’ve covered?
“We’ve been working on a project over the last five months that will have a bunch of big names and will be geared more towards toddlers and pre-kindergarten kids. We’re doing a lot of collaborations with bands on that one, but it’s hush-hush right now.”
So will we see Oli Sykes gargling his times tables or A Day To Remember instigating walls of death to the ABCs?
“Ha! Without saying too much, you’ve sort of hit the nail on the head. The plan is to have the Sparrow Sleeps brand evolve as she gets older so by the time she’s 13 or 14, we might be doing anti-bullying albums or ones geared towards teaching middle-schoolers how to deal with social situations.”
Which bands are going to receive your lullaby makeover next?
“We’ve got a big 2016 planned. We’re working with NOFX, The Get Up Kids and Beach Slang. James Alex, the lead singer, has an eight-month old child and told us, ‘This is so exciting. It’s going to be awesome’.”
Are there any album title puns you’re dying to use?
“We really want to work on an album of Coheed and Cambria lullabies called ‘In Keeping Secrets Of Silent Birth’ instead of ‘In Keeping Secrets Of Silent Earth’.”
So Sparrow is two year’s old now. Is she rebelling by listening to the ‘Frozen’ soundtrack and Justin Bieber?
“She likes Taylor Swift – but everyone does. It’s about getting the melodies ingrained into the kids so they’re comfortable and familiar with alternative music later. A lot of the bands we’ve covered she’s not going to be able to listen to until she’s out of high school anyway! We did an album of Hit The Lights songs [‘Skip Naps Sleep Nights’]. They’ve got a song called ‘Fucked Up Kids’ which we did under the censored name ‘Messed Up Kids’. It’s turned out really beautiful and happy sounding – but you definitely couldn’t sing any lyrics to your child!”
Is there a big demand for this?
“Listening to ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star’ repeatedly every night at 3am feeds is draining for parents so if they can sing along in their heads to a glockenspiel playing ‘Alive With The Glory Of Love’ by Say Anything, it’s easier to deal with those 3am wake-up calls of a baby screaming. No-one else is doing this. Other lullaby brands focus on bigger bands like Radiohead and Kanye West. Nobody’s doing the smaller bands. What’s different about us is we work with the bands from the start rather than taking their music and paying them royalties.”