Low - BYU interview 5/8/96
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'Low' stands up in the music world
By Jason T. Gough, special to the University, jason@infraredmusic.com
From BYU NewsNet

When people put Mormonism and popular music together, many flash back to the days of Donny and Marie Osmond. Today, however, there is a new name on the music horizon with an LDS twist, making noise in musical circles as quietly as they can.

Low is a trio comprised of Alan Sparhawk, vocals and guitar, Mimi Parer, vocals and percussion, both of whom are LDS, with Zak Sally on the bass.

The band, together for 3 years now, has released two albums and an Ep., with a third album coming soon on the Virgin Records sub-label Vernon Yard, home to such artists at The Verve, Maids of Gravity and The Auteurs.

Low has also been seen on MTV's 120 minutes.

Sparhawk was raised in Springville till the age of 9, when his family moved to Minnisota. It was there he met his wife Mimi, who joined the church six years ago. Sparhawk and Parker were married in the Provo Temple.

Sparhawk went to BYU his freshman year in 1986-87. He still has family in the Provo area and hopes to eventually play Provo when the band tours again.

Sparhawk said that the music business is not as bad as some might make it out to be. Although sometimes difficult, one can maintain a certain set of standards, he said.

"People are generally pretty accepting of who we are and what we stand up for," Sparhawk said. "I'd like to think we're hopefully saying a few things about the church to some people who wouldn't necessarily hear those things."

Parker said that people should be open-minded and not judge the band because it exists in the rock world, an environment sometimes associated with the darker sides of life.

"All aspects of the world are corrupt," Parker said. "Not just the music business."

It is sometimes hard to go to church when the band is on the road and some of the clubs they play don't exactly have a spirit-conducive atmosphere to them, Parker said, but they still try to live the gospel the best they can.

"If you feel strongly within yourself (about the gospel), you can do anything," she said.

The band's members aren't the only musicians in the business who have high standards. Some artists live a life of anti-decadency to the point of celibacy, Sparhawk said.

"There's certainly weirder things in the music business than a couple of people who don't drink or smoke," he said.

Self-discipline is a big part of Low, not just in their lifestyle, but in the music as well.

"It's hard to evoke the spirit when you're hammering away at 100 miles an hour," Sparhawk said.

Low's music challenged people to be quiet and attentive to the message coming across. Unlike some bands, Low is concerned with how their music affects their audience.

"We're not blatant with it (religion) with our music," Sparhawk said. "But when we write songs, we're really attentive to what we're saying and what we could be saying."

In a world dominated by aggressive, loud rock, the quiet and entrancing music of low is somewhat of an oddity.

"Melancholy often gets a bad rap," Sparhawk said. "People confuse someone being melancholic with them being in an evil state. If anything, it's probably more closer to an understanding of the truth. At least like that people are serious and looking inside themselves."

Sparhawk said after he left BYU he was inactive for a few years, but it didn't take long for him to come back.

"Little things started happening to me, little lights started coming on and I thought I'd better start going back to church and figure out if this is for real and it is," Sparhawk said. He said he was glad he went through the process of having to figure the church and the gospel out for himself.

"A lot of people go to church because their parents go," He said. "It's like they never figure it out...I can safely say I still feel as strongly about it now."

The band seems to be blessed for its humble approach to the music industry.

"The last two years we've been able to get by on the music," Sparhawk said. "I really firmly believe that this is something that Heavenly Father has set up for us...it's a responsibility I think he's given to us.

This story was posted on Wednesday, May 8, 1996


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