Sparrow Is the Real Zumpano

By James Keast"When Zumpano fizzled, I really had no choice. What was I going to do, play drums for the rest of my life?" Jason Zumpano, drummer and namesake of early ‘90s pop band Zumpano, needed a new hobby so he turned instead to piano and began finally capturing the melodies that were floating around in his head. The product of those experiments now arrives in the form of Sparrow, a spare, keyboard-driven pop treat.

To kick-start the learning curve on piano, Zumpano "took lessons for a couple of months, but I realised I wasn't going to do a lot of sight-reading, so I just said ‘look, teach me how to make a chord' and dropped out right afterwards."

It was a trial by fire with Vancouver art-rockers Destroyer that honed Zumpano's keyboard skills. "I befriended [Destroyer's] Dan Bejar and he asked me to join the band. It totally helped me learn how to play pop music on piano." His contributions included playing on Destroyer's best albums, Thief and Streethawk: A Seduction, but when Bejar found a new band, Zumpano was once again at a loss.

"I was still too shy to sing, so I had an instrumental band called the Sparrow — it was two string players and piano, a kind of neo-classical thing." Unsatisfied, Zumpano finally came to terms with his vocal fears, and sang some demos into his computer. "I was surprised that I could even sing in tune, then I got addicted to it. I really can't play guitar, so I used my voice as another instrument for harmonies."

Now, the 34-year-old has found himself with an entirely new career direction as a pop front-man. On his self-titled debut, Jason proves that while Carl Newman and Michael Ledwidge got all the attention for Zumpano, that pop outfit's melodic instincts ran deeper than anyone suspected. "I feel lucky. I've been playing drums since I was a teenager, but now I want to do this the rest of my life. I want to put out a record every year!"

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Article Published In Sep 03 Issue