Answer The Questions: The Handsome Family

'America is an occupied country'
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The Independent Culture

The Handsome Family, aka husband and wife team Brett and Rennie Sparks, are favourites who sing about death, misfits and dancing bears (among other topics). They live in Albuquerque, New Mexico and their new album, Singing Bones, is released here tomorrow

What can we expect from your new album?

Rennie: Singing Bones is designed to rip holes in the veil between this world and the next. It should surely drive most listeners into a severely altered state in which even chicken bones at the bottom of a garbage pail across the street will begin to sing. There are songs about haunted Wal-Marts, lovers who chase the fire in streetlights, the madness of very deep holes, a lake that can only be visited in dreams, and the shadows that whisper inside a modern office building.

Brett: And it features a lovely array of real acoustic instruments!

Your home town of Albuquerque was in the news recently because a bunch of Texan democrats were hiding out there. Were you rooting for their cause?

Rennie: No, we're incredibly depressed that the Democratic Party has become a bunch of snivelling cowards hiding behind the ice machine on the 10th floor of a hotel. There's got to be a better way to fight the Republicans.

Brett: With swords.

What music do you play at home when you're not recording?

Rennie: I like to listen to Blue Jays screaming as they dive onto the front porch for peanuts.

Brett: I like Jim Reeves.

The Dixie Chicks got in trouble for denouncing Bush at a UK gig earlier this year. Do you admire them for taking a stand?

Rennie: Yes, but I'd admire them more if they took a stand back in America. I consider America to be an occupied country. I want these bullies kicked out of office. I want America to really stand for freedom and equality and not for greed and aggression.

Will Bush win the next election?

Rennie: I sure hope not. But he didn't win the last one and he became president. We may have to take to the streets with pitchforks and torches to get rid of him.

You live, work and tour together. Ever get cabin fever?

Rennie: Sure, we're Americans and so basically anti-social. One day we'll build separate log cabins deep in the forest and spend our days shooting rifles at each other through the pine trees. Until then we continue to write songs together.

We've got that American magician David Blaine over here, starving himself in a glass box. Has he ever done anything silly in your neck of the woods?

Rennie: He froze himself naked inside a giant block of ice in NYC. I kept screaming at the TV set, "Ice is an insulator!" but no one listened as usual.

When you go on tour, what items do you never leave home without?

Rennie: My aluminum foil hat to protect my dark thoughts from detection by roving American "peace-keeping" forces. Cheerfulness is not just encouraged in America. It's the law.

Brett: Vitamin C, iPod, pocket-sized Tibetan Book of the Dead/ New Testament, many tiny radios, tiny telephones, airline-sized bottles of Jack Daniels.

'Singing Bones' is out on Loose tomorrow; review, page 15. The Handsome Family tour the UK in November. Visit for more details