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Sparks on their upcoming dates: "There'll be no props - just pure showmanship"

The art-pop veterans, with “a really exciting band”, tour the UK in September

Since exploding into 1974’s glam zeitgeist with the hit single This Town Ain’t Big Enough For Both Of Us, Ron and Russell Mael have maintained a tireless forward momentum across rock’s most ingenious and instantly recognisable albums. Their latest, Hippopotamus, is also one of their best.

Can we expect all the usual audiovisual bells and whistles on this tour?

Russell Mael: This time we have a really exciting band playing with us, so there won’t be extraneous props in the show. We’re going to try to get away with pure showmanship.

How do you go about maintaining prime vocal condition?

Russell: You must take care of yourself for the people coming to your shows. You cannot allow yourself to aim for vocals that are less than perfect or less than the way people know they should sound. It’s my obligation that songs from Kimono My House [1974] sound as they should, and we’re proud that we still do everything in its original key.

It’s sometimes easier to find parallels with what you do in the art world than in the rock milieu. Your instantly recognisable public image is reminiscent of Gilbert and George.

Russell: Yeah. I appreciate the analogy. You can’t separate their persona from the actual work they do, and it’s similar with Ron and me.

Ron: That lack of separation from the way they present themselves and their work has a similarity. You can’t cut yourself off from the image they present and what they’re doing. When we started, we thought image and visuals enhanced rather than detracted from the music. We’d studied visual arts at university; we didn’t study music. I studied graphic design, and Russell cinema.

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