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Low's 'Hey What' Finds The Duo Strong And Forever Searching

The indie rock band Low released their 13th studio album, <em>HEY WHAT</em>, on Sept. 10.
Nathan Keay
Courtesy of Sub Pop Records
The indie rock band Low released their 13th studio album, HEY WHAT, on Sept. 10.

Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker of the indie rock band Low have been making music together for nearly 30 years, and married for even longer. "Honestly, if it hadn't been for the marriage, for the family ... we never would have survived this long as a band," Parker says in an interview with NPR's Lee Hale. Sparhawk adds with a laugh, "And it's not to say 'The band is just horrible, but we're keeping it together because we're married.' But I think we were able to weather difficulties. We were able to have a certain kind of unified vision ... despite being two [very] different artists."

The pair says that, even after all this time, they're still finding their sound — which often stomps, with a whispered intensity, around the boundaries of harmony and dissonance.

That particular alchemy makes HEY WHAT, their 13th studio album, a particularly fitting soundtrack for the times. On "Days Like These," the pair touches on the precarious balance required of living in the present moment. "When you think you've seen everything / You'll find we're living in days like these," they sing. Sparhawk says the track's meaning varies from person to person, but for him, it's about his life being "[this] toss between despair and absurd hope." But, "At the end of the day, I've got to land on the side of hope," he says. "I've got to land on the side of whatever it is that's moving us forward."

Listen to Lee Hale's interview with Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker of Low in the audio player above, and stream HEY WHAT below.

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Lee Hale began listening to KUER while he was teaching English at a Middle School in West Jordan (his one hour commute made for plenty of listening time). Inspired by what he heard he applied for the Kroc Fellowship at NPR headquarters in DC and to his surprise, he got it. Since then he has reported on topics ranging from TSA PreCheck to micro apartments in overcrowded cities to the various ways zoo animals stay cool in the summer heat. But, his primary focus has always been education and he returns to Utah to cover the same schools he was teaching in not long ago. Lee is a graduate of Brigham Young University and is also fascinated with the way religion intersects with the culture and communities of the Beehive State. He hopes to tell stories that accurately reflect the beliefs that Utahns hold dear.
Oliver Dearden
Oliver Dearden is a supervising producer for All Things Considered. He line produces the show, working with producers and editors to get the show on air each day. Before ATC, Dearden was a producer with Weekend Edition and Morning Edition, and a senior producer for BBC radio.
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