Jesse Sprinkle
Elbo Room, Chicago, IL
Date: September 1998
URL:  or
By Shari Lloyd
Photographs by Shari Lloyd

You may remember Jesse Sprinkle from his days as the drummer for the celebrated alternative band Poor Old Lu that broke up in 1996. Sprinkle is back now with a new band, The World Inside, which released its debut album, Roobrik, on Organic Records in early January, 1999. Phil Peterson and Sprinkleís brother Aaron are the other members. The band was formed by Sprinkle after he and Phil Peterson worked other musical projects together under the names Sunsites and Clive Staples. Early last fall, they took a break in the creative process to open on a short tour with Robert Deeble. When they stopped in Chicago, The Phantom Tollbooth found out more about this new direction which Jesse Sprinkle describes as, "kinda like acoustic rock only not quite rock."

Tollbooth: How did you get the title of the album and the band?

Sprinkle: The World Inside is directly inspired from one of my favorite bands for the last few years called Human Drama. They are an underground band from L.A. and they do a lot of acoustic stuff with cellos--that stuff really inspired me. They did an album called The World Inside. It seemed to describe my music. I wanted something simple thatís not easy to forget but at the same time; something that has really meant a lot to me. So I thought that The World Within could capture a lot of my different emotions.

The name of the album, roobik, is word that my friend and I actually found in the dictionary about a year ago. It has to do with something being illumined and red. The core of the word is ruby--rubic. I spell it on the album with the phonetical spelling, not the real spelling, so it's just one of those that I can't fully explain.

Tollbooth: Is that a reference perhaps to love?

Sprinkle: Well, yeah, it has something to do with the whole sacrificial thing, but not in a real obvious way I want it to be subtly streaming through the album--not cliched. The first song does mention the blood of Christ, but it's not something that's totally blended in. It kind of just happened.

Tollbooth: Are you doing new music tonight?

Sprinkle: Yeah, It's kind of a multi-faceted thing. We have three people that make up two bands. I usually open up with three or four songs, then I play drums for Robert's set. It's cool because I am personally not real comfortable playing live but Robert created an environment that wasn't very intimidating for me so I jumped in right away.

I came into this whole The World Inside thing not knowing what I'd do or how much I'd like to play live. This is really my first solo experience so I'm real nervous. I'm used to touring, but this is like starting all over again. This could either totally make me want to quit doing this forever or strengthen me because I'm not real confident. I don't like to sing in front of people and I'm not comfortable playing guitar in front of people either. I'm used to playing drums so that's more natural for me. It's hard for me to go into areas I'm not real comfortable with.

Tollbooth: Do people have certain expectations when they hear your present music?

Sprinkle: Actually, I've been encouraged about that because I was kind of worried. I had to transition into it with an instrumental album which I did two years ago. I just used a guitar and cello which threw everyone for a loop because it was nothing like Poor Old Lu. When they heard this new album it wasn't as much of a shock. People have been really encouraging about that. I didn't do it with the intention of being really cool but I've had a lot of good responses. I also like it because it reaches a broader span of people. My grandparents and relatives like it.

Tollbooth: What do you attribute your new bandís different sound to?

Sprinkle: What I liked about Poor Old Lu was, nobody wrote a whole song. That's what made us so unique. There were so many minds coming together. I'd throw in a chord progression and we'd all make it a song, so it had a cool feel to it. This is new for me to write a whole song. It definitely has a different sound. I like almost every kind of music whether it be really heavy or really mellow. But as far as what I write it always tends to be really simple--melodic and kind of acoustic, not to over use the word, but organic. That's kind of what comes out naturally. So it is a lot different. I don't want to try to make anybody think that it's a continuation of Poor Old Lu in any way because it's just not. I don't have a lot of simple pop songs so people ought to be more paying attention to the music instead of dancing around or moshing to it. It's a little bit harder than Poor Old Lu where people would just like jump around. I don't' want a really big thing that's going to rock the world and change everything, I just want to put out an album that means a lot to me.

Tollbooth: How about the lyrics?

Sprinkle: It's hard to sum it up. I like to work on lyrics, but at the same time, I don't like it to necessarily spell out anything real obviously like a lot of other lyricists do. A lot on this album is going towards natural images of things. There are a few songs that touch Biblical things, but I tried to create a feeling, a vibe, and deep messages. There aren't a lot of things I really want to tell the world right now. I just like to create mood stuff.

Tollbooth: How would you react to the word "emo" in reaction to your music?

Sprinkle: I've had mixed emotions about that because emo is something that inspired me, but the whole acoustic mellow thing doesn't come across as emo to me.

Tollbooth: Well, maybe you'll start a new genre.

Sprinkle: Right! Who knows where I'll go from here. This was basically my first batch of songs I'd ever written by myself so I'm just wondering in which direction I want to go. I know the industry wanted me to go pop, but I like to write a lot of darker, contemplative songs.

I really want the next album to be strong. The first album was really sentimental and I didn't do it with the intention of an industry critiquing it. I did it because I loved the music. The next album I want to do that much better and I'm glad I had a little time so I don't have to rush. I 'm not good at rushing music. It has to evolve and build, especially since I'm going to orchestrate segments of it.

News: Jessie recently formed a new label, Sad Puppy which released a compilation disk called Vitaphonic and Other Sonic Pleasures that includes music from:

The World Inside
Rose Blossom Punch
Painted by Moses
Seven Head Division
Amiee Clark
five o'clock people
Alan LoPresti
Fuzzi Bullets
Dizzy Monk
Poor Old Lu
Love Bus 17