Nine Questions with Scott Sprague


Name: Scott Sprague

Birthplace: Boise, Idaho

Currently residing: Boise, Idaho

Musical past and present in one rambling run-on sentence: My experience in the McCall-Donnelly High School Jazz Band built the foundation of my musical ambitions, which led to the formation of many different pseudo rock/jam bands throughout high school and college (Civil Disobedience, Grassroots, Tripwire, and Red House), until I took five years off of playing music only to rediscover the passion with familiar faces in our current rock/americana project – Innocent Man.


1. Who are some of your favourite composers, musicians and bands from the past and present?

Composers that I’ve looked to for inspiration include George Frideric Handel, J.S. Bach, and Claude Debussy. Miles Davis, John Scofield, and Frank Zappa have carved out a little niche in my heart, too. I used to be obsessed with artists and still am, to a degree. In high school, I remember discovering Jethro Tull and I bought every CD I could to try and get to the heart of the music. Amazing music ranging from jazz fueled numbers like “A Song for Jeffery” and “Inside” to woodland-inspired folk music, such as “One Brown Mouse” and “The Whistler” are so artfully crafted against epics like “Thick as a Brick” and “A Passion Play”. Of course, “Aqualung” gets most of the attention, as it should, but there are some real gems in the catalog once you dive in a little deeper. Later, I found the Grateful Dead and that was my go-to main source of inspiration for a number of years. I was too young to understand the weight of what I was listening to, but the acoustic stuff first grabbed my attention. “Uncle John’s Band” and “Friend of the Devil” were two very powerful songs in my youth. After the Dead, Phish captivated my attention for the better part of the last 15 years. Many people know the band (incorrectly) as an extension of the Dead, but that’s simply wrong. The musicality of the individual members of Phish might never again be seen again in a rock band setting – no exaggeration. The problem is, most people have already formed an opinion of the band without ever giving the music a chance. It’s a pity because if you dismiss a band because of stereotype, you’re missing out. Other bands that I’ve gravitated to lately have been Dawes, Vampire Weekend, The National, and Wilco for depth of substance. Incredible groups all the way around.

2. Is there a particular song or musical passage that never fails to move you emotionally?

J.S. Bach’s St. John Passion Chorale No. 1 “O Wondrous Love” – one of my favorite pieces I sang in choir during college. I still warm up for shows with the tenor part. With the full harmony, it’s just so beautiful. A more modern example would be Owen Pallett’s “Scandal at the Parkade”. The interplay between the percussive, looping violin and the haunting vocal tone is perfectly simplistic and breathtaking.

3. How would you describe your perfect day?

I really dislike being idle, so I embrace having a full day. Making breakfast for my wife and feeding my bread starter would be a good beginning. Alternating between listening to music, writing music, and researching wine for most of the afternoon and evening would round out a very productive day. The icing on the cake would be band rehearsal or a show in the evening.

4. What would your friends say they appreciate the most about you?

I tend to be the guy who really wants to know what other people are doing. I’m not a boastful person and I tend to shy away from the conversation when it turns to me. I like casting the spotlight on others and being a good listener. I also bake a lot of artisan bread so there’s always free loaves I am pawning off on my friends. I enjoy a good glutenfest, but sometimes when I’m baking 8-12 loaves a week just to keep practicing and getting better, I’ll need some help getting through all of that bread.

5. What is your most valued material possession?

While my customized electric guitar is extremely important to me, the full truth is that my wedding ring tops the list. My wife is so incredible and supportive in everything I do and when I’m on the road and away from her, it’s one of the things that centers me.

6. Who were you, or would you be nervous to meet?

There are many musical idols of mine that I’d be nervous to meet (Trey Anastasio, Bela Fleck, Ian Anderson, Paul Simon, to name a few). I have met several of my non-musical idols and there was a nervous excitement on my part for both encounters. The first was Aubert de Villaine – the director of the Domaine de la Romanee-Conti at the winery in Vosne-Romanee. He ended up being one of the most delightful and down to earth personalities I’ve ever met. The second was Aldo Vacca – the director of the Produttori del Barbaresco. I met him earlier this year at Vinitaly in Verona and I found that he is a very humble man with a strong desire to share his knowledge to people who are interested in gaining something from it. Being a huge fan of the winery he represents, and Barbaresco wine in general, I could not wait to learn from him. I visited him at the winery a week later and it was a life changing experience. When he agreed to come to Boise this summer and talk about his area of the world, I truly felt we had struck up a friendship. I guess that’s the most important thing for me to realize is that when I’m nervous about meeting my heroes, it’s because I want to take away the right things from the encounters.

7. If you could blink your eyes and be in a favourite place right now, where would that place be?

I would love to be on the top of Brundage Mountain with 18 inches of fresh powder, a newly waxed snowboard, and a storm that continues to unload on the hill. Possibly make it a Wednesday in mid January and that really could be the best place and time in the world.

8. Is there something you would like to do more of in the future?

I lead a pretty satisfying life right now. I’d always like more time, but not dedicated to one particular thing. I would enjoy being able to bake more artisan breads and write more songs. I’d like to continue studying wine earnestly, particularly Italian wine. All in all, I’d like to learn more about many things in life and have the time to perfect my part in those worlds.

9. Where would you like to find yourself in ten years?

I am very excited about life and the endless possibilities it presents to each of us. In ten years, I’d like to find myself still believing that and embracing it to the fullest. It really doesn’t matter where life takes me as long as the excitement of living hasn’t disappeared.


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