The Hoosiers

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The Hoosiers
Irwin Sparkes (left) and Martin Skarendahl (right)
Irwin Sparkes (left) and Martin Skarendahl (right)
Background information
OriginReading, Berkshire, England
GenresPop rock, indie pop
Years active2003–present
MembersIrwin Sparkes
Alan Sharland
Past membersTony Byrne
Tom Easey
Martin Skarendahl
Sam Swallow

The Hoosiers are an English pop rock band formed in Indianapolis, Indiana, United States. The band consists of members Irwin Sparkes (lead vocals, lead guitar) and Alan Sharland (drums, percussion, vocals).

Their first single "Worried About Ray" reached number 5 on the UK Singles Chart in July 2007. In October 2007, they released their debut album The Trick to Life, which reached number 1 in the album charts. The band released their second top ten album The Illusion of Safety on 16 August 2010 and was preceded by the lead single "Choices" which was released on 1 August 2010, it reached the UK Top 20.

In July 2015, bassist Martin Skarendahl left the band in what was described by the remaining members as "one of the most amicable decisions in music history".[1]

In August 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic the band played a surprise secret gig at a socially distanced street party in Weston-super-Mare known as AaronFest.[2]


The Hoosiers performing at Live Fest in July 2011

When the band was formed in Indianapolis in 2003, Alan "Alphonso" Raymond Sharland (drummer) and Irwin Nathaniel Sparkes (lead singer and guitarist) spent some time in the United States, encouraged by their chemistry teacher (Grant Serpell,[3] who was part of the band Sailor during their fame in the 1970s), in an attempt to broaden their horizons. The pair won themselves a football scholarship at the University of Indianapolis, despite a reputed claim to be "allergic to running" (a claim which is backed up by lead singer Sparkes' asthma).

Their time spent in Indiana inspired the band's name, as a citizen of Indiana is colloquially called a Hoosier. Having gathered enough material to compile an album, Al and Irwin returned to London, where they met Swiss keyboard player and sound engineer Duri Darms and Martin Skarendahl, a Swedish ex-fireman who was then working with Darms as a recording studio engineer and studying at The London Music School.[citation needed] The original group included two band members (Tony Byrne and Tom Easey) who had left by this point, leaving Sparkes and Sharland to replace them with Skarendahl.

This newly revamped trio of Sparkes, Skarendahl, and Sharland subsequently signed to RCA and released their first album The Trick to Life on 22 October 2007. The band have spoken of their desire to write songs that are about more than just "boy and girl... finding love on a Friday night on the lash with your mates".[4] In February 2008, they were named as Worst Band at the annual NME awards.[5] They were produced by ex-member of Jamiroquai, Toby Smith, until his death in 2017, and managed by Steve Morton.

The band's second single, "Goodbye Mr A", appeared in the football video game FIFA 08, and the game can also be seen in the "Goodbye Mr A" music video. Following the release of "Worst Case Scenario", the next release from The Trick to Life was "Cops and Robbers".

For their second album, The Illusion of Safety, several changes were made, including a more synthesised sound and the drummer 'Alphonso' returning to his given name Alan. The Illusion of Safety gave the first single "Choices" and includes the song "Unlikely Hero", for which a video was filmed in a quarry in Derbyshire. The latter was due to be a single until it was announced that this was not the case on 14 October 2010.[6]

Departure from record label[edit]

It was announced on 1 April 2011, that the band had departed from their record label Sony after a dispute over the promotion of their latest album The Illusion of Safety.< Sparkes told Daily Record, "I don't think many people knew that the second album had been released, so we're having to reissue it to bring it to people's awareness."[citation needed]

The band announced that they were repackaging and re-releasing the album with a new title, Bumpy Ride, on 11 April 2011.[7] The rerelease comes with 4 new album tracks, and a deluxe version comes with a DVD of live performances.

On 24 May 2013, they appeared at Bradford University's Party on the Amp to perform a few songs Including "Goodbye Mr A".

On 25 May 2013, they appeared at Roehampton University's summerball to perform a few songs. On 18 July 2013, they performed at Bishop Grosseteste University, Lincoln, England. On 19 July 2013, they appeared at Bugjam, Santa Pod Raceway, as one of the headline acts.

It was announced by the band on Twitter that long term keyboard player Sam Swallow would be joining the band as a full member in 2013.

Crab Race[edit]

On 17 September 2013, the Hoosiers sent an email out to their fans announcing the planned release of their new album The News from Nowhere. The news was accompanied by the release of the first single from this album, "Somewhere in the Distance", a few weeks later. The band asked fans to pre-order the album. They also gave fans the chance to appear in their "Somewhere in the Distance" video and visit the recording studio.

We're not a big record label with lots of money, though, so need to pay for the recording, manufacturing, adverts, videos, touring, promotion – all the stuff a label usually does – ourselves.

The album was released on 14 April 2014 under the record label 'Crab Race' and was made available on iTunes, Google Play, as well as streaming services such as Spotify. Shortly after the release of the album the band embarked on a UK wide tour in the summer of 2014. This tour would be their last with founding bassist Martin Skarendahl who left the band amicably to pursue new projects.

After the departure of Skarendahl, the band began work on their fourth studio album titled The Secret Service. Like News from Nowhere, the band asked fans to pre-order the album and offered a similar incentive system to help with the production of new music. On 9 October 2015, the album was released, preceded by the EPs The Wheels Fell Off and Up to No Good. The band followed up the album with two live albums; one with recordings taken from a performance at the London Islington Academy from the 'Tour from Nowhere' in May 2014, and the other was titled Acoustic Songs in a Church which included 12 tracks from across the band's four albums to date, each song recorded in one take on a single day in February 2014. As both albums were recorded in 2014 before Martin's departure, they are the last albums to feature the full line-up of the Hoosiers to date.[8]

After finishing their tour in 2016, it was announced that Swallow would be leaving the band.



Studio albums[edit]

Extended plays[edit]


  1. ^ "The Hoosiers - Timeline". Facebook. Retrieved 24 September 2016.
  2. ^ "The Hoosiers Official Facebook page". Facebook.
  3. ^ "Why The Hoosiers are getting seriously cheery". The Independent. London. 15 February 2008. Retrieved 25 May 2010.
  4. ^ "The Hoosiers". Archived from the original on 19 December 2007. Retrieved 14 January 2008.
  5. ^ "Shockwaves NME Awards 2008: The Hoosiers named Worst Band | News". Nme.Com. 28 February 2008. Retrieved 28 May 2011.
  6. ^ [1][dead link]
  7. ^ Published on Sun 03 14 Apr:13:22 BST 2011. "FREE: Download album track from The Hoosiers and watch Sheffield gig highlights - VIDEO - Music". The Star. Retrieved 28 May 2011.
  8. ^ "Live And Let Live (2CD)". Retrieved 24 September 2017.

External links[edit]