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Last Updated: Friday, 20 July 2007, 09:10 GMT 10:10 UK
Talking Shop: The Hoosiers
The Hoosiers press shot
The Hoosiers is the nickname of the University of Indiana's sports teams
You may not know The Hoosiers by name, but you may well have already heard their debut single, Worried About Ray.

An effervescent slab of power pop, it has been nestling in the top 10 for three weeks, helped in no small measure by a quirky video that pays tribute to Oscar-winning Jason and The Argonauts animator Ray Harryhausen.

Lead singer Irwin Sparkes talked to the BBC News website about the band he formed with childhood friend Alfonso Sharland and Swedish drummer Martin Skarendahl.

Q: Hi Irwin, are we interrupting your sound check?

A: No, no - nothing that glamorous. We're just in a taxi. I'm sat twixt Martin and Alfonso, so you're good to go.

Q: Tell us the story about how you ended up on a football scholarship in the US.

A: Well, Alf and I have been heterosexual life partners for about 10 years. We were always writing songs together but an old teacher of mine said: "How can you write about life unless you've lived it?"

The Hoosiers in concert
Live shows have a visual element, which the band hope to build on
So we decided to take up the offer of a football scholarship in America, which we'd had because Alf said that he was playing for Crystal Palace. They were very surprised when we turned up and we were no good.

Q: And when you came back to the UK you met Martin?

A: Yes, he had been plying his wares as a fireman in the National Service in Sweden. We've just found out that he wouldn't have got into the proper fire brigade because he wasn't beefy enough!

Q: A lot of people who read this interview are going to look at the photo at the top of the page and think, "why has Ben Stiller formed a band?". What would you say to them?

A: I'm getting that quite a lot... Apparently he changed his face to look more like me!

Q: You've described your music as "odd pop". Is it important to be different?

A: Well, "being different" is a phrase that's bandied around too often. We're just being ourselves and I guess we're generally quite silly.

But at the same time we're very serious about the music. We're writing songs about coming to terms with adulthood but still wrapping it up in a pleasing pop parcel.

The Hoosiers press shot
The band are (l-r) Sparkes, Alfonso Sharland and Martin Skarendahl
Q: Have there had any ideas that were just too silly?

A: There was one. We were going to set up a '70s soft porn shoot and use the photos as an introduction to the band. But I think we had some good advice from the label there. "Ease them in gently," they said.

Q: Are there lots of big meetings with men in suits at the record label about who your fans are supposed to be?

A: I have it on good account that there are, but I don't think I ever get those emails. Seriously, though, the label has never tried to influence us musically.

Q: Worried About Ray has been steadily rising up the charts for a couple of weeks. How does that make you feel?

A: It hasn't really sunk in yet. I'm expecting one day for it to finally hit me and for my head to explode with glee.

Q: What would that look like?

A: My guess, but don't quote me on it, is bananas and custard.

On second thoughts I suppose you can quote me on it... that's your job. Actually, don't quote me on anything. This is all off the record, right?

The Hoosiers artwork
An in-house artist designs characters based on their songs
Q: Alf wrote on your website that you had bought a yacht and called it the HMS Chart Success. Care to comment?

A: Now that we've had a top 20 single, we've made at least 17 each. But we'll stretch it. Put it in an ISA, or something like that.

Q: If you could be a Ray for the day, who would you be - Ray Winstone or Ray Davies?

A: Can I be Ray Harryhausen? Or I might be some sea sp-ray. The rules weren't that tight and it's still got Ray in there. I like floating around and I like to be close to the whales and the dolphins.

Q: Can't you get close to the whales and dolphins on your yacht?

A: Enough of this yacht talk! I'd hate for people to think we've actually got money!

The Hoosiers were talking to BBC News entertainment reporter Mark Savage. Their single, Worried About Ray, is out now and their album is released in October.

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