SPROUT THE ANTI-HERO
Anti-heroes, those struggling protagonists we often think of from comic books; The Punisher, Deadpool, Spawn, Marv from Sin City. Heroes, but unconventional, human, flawed; not your cookie cutter super hero, not other worldly, bestowed with virtue; but rouge lone wolves who answer to their own moral code. These characters challenge what you think, make you consider the human condition; and yet still stick up for the little guy, fight the world’s evils in their own twisted sort of way, and share some painful history, of how they came to be an anti-hero.
Circa 1979, born at two pounds nine ounces, and his first few months a struggle to grow and thrive in a hospital incubator, the little guy; the guy who grew to tower over people as an adult, at a height of 6’7 inches; the contender, with a soulful voice. That is Sprout. The Punk Rock tour de force, thwarting the constraints of his religious upbringing, to march to the beat of his own drum, to look out for the other little guys like he once was; and to inspire us all to consider how we think about common themes; of life, love, and humanity in his music. In many ways Sprout is by definition, live from the pages of a comic book, an anti-hero.
I had a chance to sit down with Sprout, who also happens to be the vocalist of much loved Tulsa, Oklahoma, based band Screaming Red Mutiny, to talk about what is coming up for Screaming Red Mutiny, and his solo project Sprout the Anti-Hero. I also got some glimpses into his life, and how he became the musician, and person he is today.
Sprout reflected on his humble beginnings, and what inspired him to write music. For Sprout, it was all about finding his voice, and overcoming his struggles. Today, as an established musician aspiring to form his own music label, that goal has come full circle. Today Sprout wishes to take his knowledge and experience, and help budding young musicians, to also find, and share their voice.
Sprout has been traveling and touring with various bands for almost twenty years, starting to sing as a kid in high school. Sprout first started singing in the church where his stepfather was the pastor. Growing up in a predominately Black environment, in a religious home Sprout was not allowed to listen to secular music at home. Sprout shared with me how he developed his love for Rock music despite the constraints of his upbringing.
Sprout said, “it (Rock music) was a part of me, I remember where I grew up in particular was a predominately all Black neighborhood, and so you weren’t going to hear much Rock music in your neighborhood for the most part, so being bused to another area of town to go to school, I was exposed to different kinds of kids. Some of the kids I was hanging around listened to Poison and Ratt, and they listened to Winger, and some other stuff. That was my first experience with Rock music, of course it was the eighties, but I loved the stories, guitars, and wild, crazy vocals even as a kid.”
For Sprout Rock music was a love affair. He started to sneak in listening to it when he could. Sprout’s love for Rock music delved into Punk Rock. Sprout shared, “when I got out there on my own I fell in love with Punk Rock like Black Flag and Minor Threat, and I love the Dead Kennedys,”
The reaction from his mother and step-father to Sprout’s musical choices were less than supportive. Sprout shared when asked about that side of his family, “the reaction for the most part wasn’t a very good one because the place where I grew up was a place where there was no what they would call secular music allowed, so I would pretty much have to sneak and listen to whatever I wanted to listen to, whether it be Rock or Hip Hop, if it wasn’t Christian it wasn’t allowed in the house. I felt like I was missing out on a bunch of things, and missing out on the world by not listening to such things.”
Sprout was able to listen to Rock music from the 1950’s era with his grandfather, which he still reaches to for inspiration today. Sprout reflected on that by saying, “my grandfather on top of the Blues showed me old classic fifties Rock N Roll like Little Richard, Fats Domino, and Chuck Berry; things like that. So, usually when I have a tough time with what I am doing, I go back to the basics of Rock N Roll, which would have been in the fifties, with names as what I mentioned. They really inspired me to want to go out there and be a musician, and have a voice somehow, some way as a kid.”
For Sprout as a kid having a voice was important, when asked what inspired him to write music in the first place, he opened up and confessed, “I grew up a victim of child abuse in my home, and I did not have a voice, I was not allowed to question what was being told to me and I always question everything even now. Even when I was a little boy I questioned everything. It wasn’t happening, the answers weren’t happening… anyway I started writing as a teenager, to get the things off my chest”.
From the age of fifteen with other high school friends Sprout formed “The Sleepy Weasels”, and began to explore his desire to create Rock music. Sprout also came to learn his biological father was also a musician, and truly realized that making music was in his blood. Sprout recalled his reaction to finding out his father was a musician, “I found out at that point it was pretty much in my blood, and it was a whole world I needed to explore, and my father and my sisters encouraged me in that, that’s why I am what I am today.” Sprout has an amazing support system for his music from his father and four sisters.
However, it was Sprout’s mother who gave him the name, and moniker he uses in his solo work.
My nickname is Sprout, my mother gave me that nickname when I was born. I was born two pounds and nine ounces, I was a preemie born about two, two and a half months early, and in 1979 that was some tough stuff. I had to be in an incubator for a few months, but the anti-hero part also came from my mother; she read a lot of books, and when I was a kid I was a fall guy who would fight bullies for people who couldn’t fight for themselves, and one time my mother got on my case and she said, “ you walk around here and you act like a little anti- hero” so it stuck, and even today I still have the capacity to do some pretty rotten things for the sake of what’s good. Even that’s subjective.
Sprout compares himself to the character Marv in the graphic novel, turned film Sin City. Sprout jokes, speaking of this, with a larger than life belly laugh. Of course he does not actually do what Marv does, he is not killing people, or even fighting bullies these days, however Sprout shared that he is like Marv, “because even though his heart is in the right place he is still who he is and that’s me, till this day. I’m still called the anti- hero by family.”
Today Sprout is exploring these themes in his work, tackling subjects about real world struggles, and even love. For Sprout there is enough political themed music out there, and enough music about drugs, so he writes what he knows, and he does it well. Sprout The Anti-Hero released his latest single “Forward” on the Mugen Music Management label on August 1, 2018, about the very subject of love.
Sprout took me on an exploration of the track, and what inspired him to write it.
The first song that I wrote as a solo artist for this project, the song is about love, it’s about long time love and strong love. I’ve been in a relationship where that was all I could feel, and everything that I ever wanted to say to this person was in that song. I wanted to write a song about love that sounded like a funeral because in a way love is the death of yourself, and the life of you as one with another person, as a team, as a unit together. I wanted to write a song that expressed that. You let go of who you were to become this great person with someone else, and there is nothing stronger than love. And another reason I wrote this song is because there is no shortage of bands who are writing about political agendas, or getting fucked up on drugs and alcohol, and there’s no shortage of that; all that stuff is ok for people to write; I wanted to do something different. I wanted to spread the love, I wanted to get people thinking about their lives, and who means the most to them, and what matters most to them. I wanted to write a song that expresses how I feel and what I have experienced with this person.
I wanted to get a point across to myself as well because sometimes when you are writing music other aspects of what you are thinking, or feeling come through, so I think that’s what made this song so special, and why I wanted to release it first.
Sprout will release another single, and then the E.P will follow with both tracks sometime between November of 2018, and January of 2019, as distributed by Sony Orchard. To support the release of the new single, “Forward,” Sprout embarked on an eleven tour date run on Saturday, August 4th, and will tour throughout Texas, Kansas, and Oklahoma.
Many of Sprout’s fans and supporters have been following Sprout since his days in the now defunct band Kingshifter, who saw much regional success in the Oklahoma, and Kansas area. Also those fans came on board with Screaming Red Mutiny which, also signed to Mugen Music Management has seen much success in the same region, gaining fans rapidly on the Rocklahoma festival set. However, Sprout the Anti-hero is a departure from the Heavy Metal/ Hard Rock delivery of both of those bands. Sprout the Anti-Hero is a stripped down, acoustic blending of musical styles, and skills Sprout has formed over the years, while touring with his other bands. Sprout the Anti-Hero gives Sprout the ability, stemming from his Punk Rock ethos, to do “whatever he wants” musically.
Sprout continues to work on Screaming Red Mutiny, as well as Sprout the Anit-Hero, but divides his time equally and exclusively with each. Once he commences the tour for his solo project Sprout will be back full force focusing on Screaming Red Mutiny. There are big plans in the works for Screaming Red Mutiny, and the fans will share the bands excitement. Most of the big news he is sworn to secrecy on, but Sprout was able to share a few hints.
“Screaming Red Mutiny is writing our first full length album, expect that between summer and fall of next Year. Once Spout closes down we are going to be hitting the road pretty hard, and will be seeing a whole bunch of people soon. I can’t say too much, but we are releasing a full album and about to release more content from the E.P, and we’re excited to be in the mix for everything. We are really excited about the opportunities we have in front of us.”
As if Sprout the Anti-Hero, and vocalist for Screaming Red Mutiny, is not enough to keep Sprout busy, he also has a in home music studio, and is a song writer for Rap and Hip Hop artists. Sprout is also a father of two sons, and we warmly chatted about his family life, and his son’s perspective on his music. Sprout has come a long way from that kid who did not have a voice, to a seasoned musician who shares his voice in multiple genres of music; and who encourages his sons to develop their own interests.
Sprout’s latest ambition is to eventually branch out from the Mugen Music Management label to forming his own record label. Sprout will do this not to only record, and release his own music, but as his goal wishes to share his experience to help budding artists as well. Sprout shared, “I just want to be something positive in the music scene instead of something negative, an I do want to help people have their voices be heard, like mine has been heard. There’s so many artists out there that deserve a shot because they work hard, their hungry, and they grind, and I respect that with any artist. Those are the artists I would like to help put out when I get the chance.”
Perhaps like many comic books stories many facets of the music industry have become similarly dark landscapes, however Sprout, as the moniker implies is just the anti-hero with the ambition to change all that. Writing through his life experiences, transforming the challenges of his past, into messages about life, and love in his music, and sharing his knowledge of how to find your voice in the music industry, with newcomers who will work with him in the future, Sprout the Anti-Hero has risen.