THE Prodigal Son has returned. Or rather, Berkshire’s musical prodigal sons are returning, as The Hoosiers launch their new album – well, that’s how lead singer Irwin Sparkes phrased it.

The band has just finished recording The Secret Service, due out on October 9, and the former Bracknell and Woodly boys are looking forward to the release.

The Guide caught up with Irwin, former Waingels College pupil, as he dashed between gigs in Dublin last week and chatted about the forthcoming album launch. “We are all very much looking forward to it,” he said.

Long-time bass player Martin Skarendahl recently left, – amicably – allowing the band to vindicate their decision to set up their own business and label for self-releasing.

The multi-platinum success of their 2007 debut album, The Trick to Life, and singles such as Worried

About Ray and Goodbye Mr. A, raised huge expectations for its follow-up.

And Irwin, who used to deliver the Bracknell News back in his youth while growing up in the area, is hoping fans will receive the new album a bit like the Prodigal Son returning.

“If they are feeling like part of their life is missing, we hope this album may give it some meaning and impact their lives,” Irwin adds.

“We are intensely proud of this album, especially doing it just one year after the last album. We feel like we are getting better at our craft.”

The band, consisting of drummer Alphonso Sharland, who grew up in Bracknell and went to Easthampstead Park Community College, and Sam Swallow on keyboards, are also getting ready for a tour. But Irwin says they do continue to come back to their roots when they can.

“We want our tour to have a celebratory feel and for people to go home happy and to know people know their money is spent wisely.”

Irwin says this album is a lot ‘sexier’ than previous records. “It gets a lot more darker and raw,” he clarifies.

And despite their careers now taking them all over the place, Berkshire is never far from their minds.

“Bracknell will always be in our hearts," Irwin added. You can take the boy out of the Bracknell/Reading region...

Only recently Irwin was back at the Oakforad Social Club in Reading hanging out with mates remembering where it all began.

The Hoosiers album The Secret Service is out on Friday, October 9.