House Sparrow may not be a name that’s recognizable right now but, come 2018, many MCLA students and North Adams community members will know who they are.
“We’ve been a two piece band for almost a year,” singer/songwriter Francesca Shanks said, indicating her bandmate, Joe Aidonidis, sitting beside her. “It’s weird for us to play as just my name, and it gets confusing.”
“It’s also just one extra thing so then we can express the music before you hear it,” Aidonidis said.
Now known as House Sparrow, the name change came about earlier this month, in addition to a tour announcement and a new album coming out on Oct. 20.
Shanks, who is an employee at MCLA, spoke last spring in a separate interview about her music and how it impacted her own life, as well as others.
“Music is the best. It’s like a whole thing. It makes me so happy, when I play ukulele, there’s this vibration that I can feel, and at this point it’s like eating my mom’s lasagna, or something, it’s like the comfort of home, and such a grounding feeling.”
Despite the new name, nothing about them has changed when it comes to their music. Their album, “Eat Honey, Taste Mud,” is a compilation of songs that Shanks wrote throughout the year. The album title came from a song lyric that’s featured on the album, and it kind of just clicked for the both of them.
“We had a lot of trouble naming this album,” said Shanks.
“But that felt right immediately,” Aidonidis added.
“It’s like the duality of trying and living, and I like that and explore it a lot in writing,” said Shanks.
Sara Yurt, a friend of Shanks, designed the album artwork for Eat Honey, Taste Mud. Consisting of different kinds of bugs, leaves and natural artifacts, Shanks and Aidonidis commented on how most of those symbols have some sort of connection with a song on the album.
“We sent her this long email of what we wanted it to be,” said Shanks. “We give out jewels at every set so she included a jewel.”
“I also love the idea of appreciating beauty in all of those little things and having it be hand drawn, it really sucks you in,” said Aidonidis.
Throughout the conversation, Aidonidis praised Shanks for her song writing, her work ethic, and how much she puts into her music.
“99.9 percent of the songs are written by her,” he said with a laugh. “I’ve written like one song.”
While sitting in the Freel Library on campus, Shanks got up and asked one of the library employees if we were bothering her.
“She’s so polite,” Aidonidis said.
The bandmates bounced off one another throughout the interview, and at one point towards the end said to each other, “Do you have anything to add? I feel like there’s more to say.”
With the music, there’s a lot to say. Shanks’ songwriting and Aidonidis’ musical talent go hand in hand, and it’s paid off for them. Back in May, House Sparrow (then known as Francesca Shanks) had the opportunity to perform at Daytrotter, an online live music hub where fans can listen to their favorite artist. Bands and artist like William Fitzsimmons, Haim, Big Thief, and Glen Campbell have performed there.
“It came out really good!” they both exclaimed.
“That’s like the king of live sessions,” Shanks said. “I’ll be able to use that forever.”
House Sparrow’s new album, Eat Honey, Taste Mud will be available Oct. 20 on Bandcamp, as well at live shows. They will be performing at the Design Lab on Main Street on Oct. 20 at 7 p.m. to celebrate the release. Tickets are $10 at the door, $8 if in costume. For more information, visit housesparrowmusic.bandcamp.com.