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Five Albums That Changed My Life: Josh Sparks of Former Thieves

Tim Dodd

Since forming in 2009, the members of Former Thieves have spent more time in the inside of a tour van than their own homes. The tough work ethic has been paying off for the Iowa band. After signing with red hot indie label No Sleep Records, Former Thieves went into the studio and recorded ‘The Language That We Speak,’ their debut album. Released this past summer, the record finds the quartet explosive take on post-hardcore being compared to greats like Botch and Modern Life Is War. Currently out on tour with The Chariot, Vanna, The Crimson Armada and Listener, Former Thieves drummer Josh Sparks took some time out to be part of Noisecreep’s ‘Five Albums That Changed My Life’ series.

‘Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness,’ The Smashing Pumpkins (1995)


“I remember hearing ‘Bullet With Butterfly Wings’ for the first time when I was 10. Sitting in my bedroom, the sound was blaring through speakers from my sister’s room across the hall. I fell in love with it, and after much coercion she let me borrow the CD. Years later I watched “making of” footage that outlined how the record was put together. That band was a f—ing song factory! Hulled up in a multi-story studio and rehearsal space, they spent months compiling the material that became a record whose impact is still lasting on me today. Then members of the band started falling off and they came out with ‘Adore.’ I guess not all rock ‘n’ roll stories have happy endings.”

‘Hot Damn!,’ Every Time I Die (2003)

“In 2003, I drove with a few friends to Iowa City to see Hopesfall. Every Time I Die was one of the openers, and while I had heard their name thrown around, I’d never actually listened to them, let alone seen them live. The energy level and intensity of the band was unparalleled to anything I’d been exposed to before then, as was the level of drunkenness. A few months after that show, ‘Hot Damn!’ was released. The CD arrived in my mailbox and I eagerly wore it out in my car stereo. I screamed the lyrics and slowly deciphered the many subtle rhythmic intricacies of a record that upon its conclusion leaves you thinking exactly what the name implies.”

‘Freak Show,’ Silverchair (1997)

“This is a great record, but the greater value for me was the point of reference it offered. I wanted to find other bands doing similar things and soon after discovered the likes of Helmet and Hum. The song ‘Cemetery’ made me want to learn how to play the guitar, and I attempted to do so. It’s rare anymore when an album can strike so much ambition into me. I was around 11 or 12 the first time I heard the song ‘Learn to Hate,’ and even then I remember thinking to myself, “Jesus Christ, dude. You’re 16 and playing in a multi-platinum selling band, maybe suck it up a little bit?”

‘Water and Solutions,’ Far (1998)

“To this day, ‘Water and Solutions’ remains one of my favorite all-time recordings. The mix and the drum sounds captured have acted as a reference for countless recording projects I’ve participated in. My best friend played me ‘Man Overboard’ as an introduction to the band around my sophomore year of high school. At that time, Pepsi was doing a promotion in conjunction with Apple that offered a 1 in 5 chance to win a free song download on iTunes under each bottle cap. After about opening around 50 Pepsi bottles, and spending nearly triple what it would have cost to just buy the damn thing from a record store, I finally owned a copy of it. Thanks for the stretch marks, Jonah Matranga.”

‘Everything You’ve Ever Wanted to Know About Silence,’ Glassjaw (2000)

“This was actually my introduction to Glassjaw and their music. The nu-metal, Elvis Costello-writing hardcore songs appeal, coupled with that video where Vincent Gallo shoots the entire band to death? I thought those guys were f—ing brilliant.”

Former Thieves on tour with The Chariot, Vanna, The Crimson Armada, Listener:

11/17 42nd Street Rock House Greensburg, PA
11/18 MXTP Grand Rapids, MI
11/19 The Bottom Lounge Chicago, IL
11/20 Camelot Arena Portage, IN
11/22 Fubar St. Louis, MO
11/23 Outland Ballroom Springfield, MO
11/26 Marquis Theatre Denver, CO
11/28 The Venue Boise, ID
11/29 Aclub Spokane, WA
11/30 Studio Seven Seattle, WA
12/01 Hawthorne Theater Portland, OR
12/02 The Boardwalk Orangevale, CA
12/03 Soma Sidestage San Diego, CA
12/04 Chain Reaction Anaheim, CA
12/05 The Underground Mesa, AZ
12/06 Open Gate Church El Paso, TX
12/07 Jake’s Sports Center Lubbock, TX
12/08 White Rabbit San Antonio, TX
12/09 Red 7 Austin, TX
12/10 Fair Park Dallas, TX
12/11 Warehouse Live Houston, TX
12/13 The Handle Bar Pensacola, FL
12/14 Double Down Live Gainesville, FL
12/15 The Social Orlando, FL
12/16 The Orpheum Tampa, FL
12/17 The Masquerade – Hell Atlanta, GA

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