Los Angeles-born brothers Ron and Russell Mael launched Sparks in 1971, moving through impish iterations of glam, New Wave, synth pop, and art rock years before the rock world did the same. Sparks scored hits and huge audiences in Europe, but never hit the big time here at home. Happily, that never stopped the Maels, who bring the voice-and-keyboard retrospective Two Hands, One Mouth Tour to Fun Fun Fun Fest for a rare Texas performance. Is it difficult to present such a stripped-down show at a festival?
"We like putting ourselves and our audience in situations where things are hopefully not fitting in with everything else that's surrounding it," says Russell. "To fit in seems like the absolute kiss of death to us. Sure, you'll have people who maybe won't understand, but we win converts to the Sparks cause by doing things that are really special and unique. We present what we think is interesting, and whoever wants to come for the ride with us, we're welcoming them with open arms."
In other words, it's an extension of the band's constant evolution.
"You have to throw yourself out there and hopefully make the right decisions," asserts Russell. "Just do things that are exciting and challenging for you and not necessarily know where it's headed. When it's predictable and you know what the end results are gonna be, then it's less exciting. But when you're doing stuff where you go, 'God, I'm not even sure exactly what we're doing, but it seems really striking,' then that's good in our eyes."
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