Interview: Kate Vargas And Eric McFadden of SGT. SPLENDOR at The Hall

For the first half of April, Sgt. Splendor will be in California.

By: Apr. 03, 2024
Interview: Kate Vargas And Eric McFadden of SGT. SPLENDOR at The Hall
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Broadway World loves a good love story, and when it is a real one, that’s even better. When a friend wanted to go see Samantha Fish at The Hall, 721 West 9th Street, in Little Rock, back in February, I thought that would be a great time to check out this venue that has only been around for a few years. Little did I know that I would not only walk away a new Samantha Fish fan, but I also fell in love with Sgt. Splendor, their opening act. Hailing from Albuquerque, NM, their Alternative/Indie sound is a great mixture that teeters on the artistic side of music, which made me want to get to know them better. Luckily, I was able to chat for a moment with Kate Vargas and Eric McFadden. 

 BWW: You guys are very awesome.  

Kate & Eric: Thank You. 

BWW: How did you end up touring with Samantha? 

Kate: Well, Eric’s known Samantha for a little bit. 

Eric: Yeah, we go back a few years. Her manager Rueben has recently become our manager, but we've all known each other for a while. I met Samantha through Rueben Williams. When I was working with him and Tab Benoit, who was producing an album for me on his label, Samantha and Ruben had come out to see one of Kate's gigs. It was a Kate Vargas gig with me playing guitar, and they all enjoyed it. That was the first time they've seen Kate, and then it just kind of organically ended up happening. 

Kate: Eric Co-wrote a song with Samantha on the Kill or Be Kind Album.  

Eric: So, we've all kind of had a relationship for a while, and this was just the natural order of things.  

Interview: Kate Vargas And Eric McFadden of SGT. SPLENDOR at The Hall
Kate Vargas with BWW's Blake Woodson

Blake Woodson: How did yall get started? Did you find him, or did he find you?  

Kate: Well, we found each other, I guess. 

BWW: Aaaaaawwwwwww  

Eric: From my point of view, I just got lucky, because I saw Kate play before I met her. I was dumbfounded... spellbound. I was like ‘who is this?’ So, we played the The Steel Bridge Song Festival in Sturgeon Bay, in Wisconsin, together.  My friend Pat MacDonald puts it on. We worked on it a few times, and eventually I got the nerve to ask Kate to write a song with me. We ended up getting together. Then, we ended up moving in together right before we got locked down, and decided to write a bunch of songs since we had nowhere to go.  

Blake: So, because of COVID, the magic happened.  

Kate: That’s right. 

Eric: Actually, you know what, had it not been for COVID, I think a lot of the best things that have ever happened to me wouldn't have happened. Like, you know, being with Kate, for example. We wrote these songs, and we recorded that first album. Once things kind of opened up, we got in the studio with Dave Schools from Widespread Panic on bass and Paulo Baldi, an old friend on drums who's played with Les Claypool. Then we decided we needed a name. So, I did all the talking there, didn't I?  

Kate: That's alright.  

Interview: Kate Vargas And Eric McFadden of SGT. SPLENDOR at The Hall

Jeff Allen: So good things are happening for you? 

Eric: Yeah. 

Jeff: I’m so happy to hear that. I got a lot of friends in a lot of bands that weren't as fortunate.  

Eric: Yeah, you know, like at first they didn't think it was gonna be good, at least that’s what it seemed like. It felt like it was the worst thing that could possibly happen, you know, but the thing is, there's a lot of things I did that I would never have done had it not been for being forced to stay home--things that really benefited me, you know, personally speaking, healthwise, mentally, emotionally, all that. But then Kate and I, hell, who knows. We hadn't been together that long. We only moved in together because we were both on the road all the time. We figured it wouldn't be any different than it was before. 

Jeff: I've got some friends who recorded a new album and released it in March of 2020. It came out the Friday before everything lined out, and it's taken four years to get back on their feet after that, because they put everything they had into it.  

Eric: I have a lot of friends in music who were in similar situations. For me, the fortunate thing was, yeah, everything was cancelled, but everything was cancelled for everybody and somehow, you know, you don't end up with FOMO when nobody's doing anything, you know? But what did happen is I did a lot of stuff, some of which I wouldn't have done otherwise. I ended up with Kate writing songs.... I was so inspired by her that I ended up being able to get back in touch with my more creative side and take things in a new direction. Kate is one of my favorite songwriters and musicians. She’s brilliant. She’s got a brilliant mind, you know. 

BWW: I like the use of the different time signatures.  

Eric: Ohh, yeah. 

BWW: That was really cool. Like the 6/8 on that last song.   

Eric: Oh Yeah, Blue & Her Strawberry Balloon..yeah 

BWW: That was really good.  

Eric: Yeah, Thank you. 

BWW: And then changing it up from the 4/4 to the 3/4 on the other song, that was really good.  

Eric: She knows what she is talking about.  

Interview: Kate Vargas And Eric McFadden of SGT. SPLENDOR at The Hall
L to R: Kate Vargas, Jesse Dayton, Eric McFadden, Samantha Fish

And with that, we sent them away to sell merchandising, because Broadway World is about artists making their money.  

Backing Sgt. Splendor was Patrick Smith and the amazing Marcus Jones on drums. Because of the creative composition of Sgt. Splendor’s music, Jones drumming wasn’t just banging out a beat. His dramatic percussive designs assisted with telling the stories of each piece that Sgt. Splendor performed. I knew he wasn’t just a drummer. His ear was too good for that, and I was right. Jones is a drummer for hire who plays all types of music, and he produces as well. His star is rising, and Broadway World is excited to follow his career.  

When not on stage, you can find them weekly with their Live from the Red Couch shows on https://www.facebook.com/KateVargasMusic. This is a definite must see for all Sgt. Splendor fans. 

For the first half of April, Sgt. Splendor will be in California. After that they head to Florida, Georgia and Mississippi, and if I had the time, I’d go to New Orleans on May 1 to see them again! For more information about my new favorite band, visit their website at https://sgtsplendor.com.  

Interview: Kate Vargas And Eric McFadden of SGT. SPLENDOR at The Hall



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