Aaron Spransy, the frontman and creative force behind “spooky-pants” indie pop band Sinnet, tries not to take things so seriously. That looseness is a welcome ingredient in the 2017 album Gentle Humour — named after his wife’s fictional band — which maintains that fun spirit while grappling with complicated topics like love, death and the need to explore.
Sinnet’s own name comes from a gift Spransy’s father gave to his mother: the license plate on several of her Toyota Camrys over the years (she loved playing tennis).
Spransy (guitar, keys, vocals) started Sinnet during “less-employed times” following his move from Milwaukee to Boston. Beginning as a laptop bedroom project, it has since evolved into a full-fledged band with a distinctive sound that blends soul, surf, fuzz and atmosphere. In its current configuration, Spransy is joined by Kevin Junker (bass, vocals) and Thomas Valicenti (guitar, vocals).
Sinnet alumni includes some super-talented artists: Gavin McCarthy (Karate, Ted Leo), Joel Reader (Mr. T Experience and Pansy Division) Matt Girard (Parks, Ruby Rose Fox and Will Dailey) and Jonathan Ulman (Thalia Zedek, Bearstronaut and many more).
As we discuss in the latest GOODQUESTIONS Q&A, Spransy pulls double-duty — working on Sinnet while also manning the guitar for the band The Fatal Flaw. Somehow he found the time to answer my questions, which touch on the recording of Gentle Humour, his influences, his ideal drummer and much more.
SOMETHINGGOOD: Your (excellent) album Gentle Humor came out in 2017. How did the record come together? Where was it produced? Are you happy with it?
Aaron Spransy: Thanks for the kind words! We recorded all the basic tracks with our bud / recordist Matt Girard. Some of the songs go back quite a bit. Basically, it took quite a while for us to have enough songs recorded to fill an LP. We worked at a bunch of studios in New England.
The majority of the LP was recorded at Wooly Mammoth Sound in Waltham. Wooly is a really neat space with a lot of beautiful and unique gear. Also, Dave Minehan who owns the studio plays with The Replacements. We nerded out that there were a couple amps with “Replacements” written on them. Outside of the meat and potatoes of the studio tracks, we did a lot of home recording on the Gentle Humor. Most of the extra bits of synth, vocals, percussion, sound effects and textures came from “The Bonus Room” AKA my spare bedroom.
SG: As an artist (and particularly as a guitarist), how do you split your time and creative energy between two (or more) bands?
AS: It can be a bit of a juggling act at times. Thankfully, the schedules for the two bands (Sinnet & The Fatal Flaw) aren’t too crazy. With Sinnet, I’m the ringleader, it’s my baby. I get to work out my own personal, artistic expression. With The Fatal Flaw I get to take a back seat and just play guitar and hang with great friends. I used to play in a 3rd band (Soft Pyramids) – which I miss musically but, almost made me lose my mind.
SG: I see you’re looking for a drummer. What do you look for in a drummer? If you could pick anyone in the world, who would it be?
AS: I love the old soul drummers, Al Jackson, Clyde Stubblefield as well as modern players like Jim Eno (Spoon) and Matt Barrick (The Walkmen).
SG: Who are some of your influences? Were there any specific influences for Gentle Humor?
AS: It’s a mix of classic soul stuff and modern bands. I was on a really big Booker T & The MGs kick for a while, “Legionnaires” is us trying to do some of that magic. I’ve always loved Paul Simon’s songwriting as well. I think we’ve got a lot of Spoon and Elliott Smith in our stuff as well.
SG: What is the Boston music scene like? Where do you think you fit in (if at all)
AS: Boston is good. It’s hard for me to not compare everything to playing music in Milwaukee (I’m from Milwaukee). I still miss the MKE music scene – it’s always great to go back and play there. But, the pool is a bit bigger in Boston (more opportunities) and there’s a pretty good range of diversity in the music. One thing I would like to see bands helping each other out a bit more in Boston, it takes a village… you know?
SG: Last question is the same as always – who are you listening to these days?
AS: I just read a Wilson Pickett biography so, I’ve been digging into his stuff. One fun tidbit I picked up: In “Land of 1,000 Dances” if you listen right after the last the chorus all but one of the horn players forgets to come in. Besides that, today I was checking out the new Unknown Mortal Orchestra and Sloan records. Both are excellent. Oh and that last Alvvays record is excellent!
You can find Sinnet on: