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At Leisure

At Leisure: Low's Alan Sparhawk On American Football
Luke Turner , October 2nd, 2018 09:05

Alan Sparhawk gives the tragically uncoordinated Luke Turner a lesson in American Football in our latest Quietus At Leisure film

On Low's UK tour a couple of years ago tQ editor Luke Turner popped along to the Barbican Centre for a lesson in American Football from Alan Sparhawk, founder member of Low. Part of our Quietus At Leisure series looking at musicians and their non-musical interests, we get taken on an impromptu sports lesson around the brutalist walkways of the Barbican - "you've just got to breadbasket that sucker" Sparhawk tells our hapless ed. as he flails after the ball. Yet you end up wishing more PE teachers were like Sparhawk, who has a fascinating take on sport - as he reveals in our interview, his experience of the sport is about pushing the human body to its limits, and exploring the self while doing so.

In his love of American Football we see a mirror of the complexity of the inter-band relationship, seeking what skills might best be found in each person, and how they might work together towards a common goal. This is especially complex in Low’s case, given that Sparhawk and Mimi Parker have known each other since they were children, and have been married for over two decades. Sparhawk has previously reflected on special pressures that come from creating and existing with a loved one: “ Something that’s tense or a struggle in the band, you have to be careful not to let that affect your relationship too much,” he told The Skinny magazine in 2015, "That can be… yeah, claustrophobic. There’s times when it’s almost too close.”

But, as Sparhawk tells us about his view on teamwork in American football, how in bands and teams alike, work revolves on “the idea of everybody working together, whether it’s knowing what you have and what your weaknesses and your strengths are”.

The Quietus At Leisure series was made by Luke Turner and Ethan Reid and is produced in association with Lush cosmetics. Low's brilliant new album Double Negative is out now and they return to the Barbican Centre next February.