Get up and go See/Hear
In two years, some things have changed for Ian Parton of The Go! Team. He’s packed in the day job for one – but the sound remains the same. He tells Jim Carroll how the band have no intention of dropping their home-made, bedroom sound – or selling yogurt
THE last time Ian Parton spoke to The Ticket, he was thinking about packing in his day job making documentaries. His band, The Go! Team, had just returned from its first assault on US pop fans, and the buzz about the band and their Thunder, Lightning, Strike debut album was deafening. Band leader Parton, though, wasn’t sure if it it would all last.
Two years later, his day job is The Go! Team. Parton says there are times when he has to pinch himself.
“There have been moments which I just couldn’t have imagined a couple of years ago. It’s like a name-dropper’s dream. We’ve worked with Chuck D, we’ve supported the Flaming Lips, we’ve had Kevin Shields remixing one of our tracks, and we’ve travelled the world a few times over. It has been stupidly good.”
It may be about to get even better. Proof of Youth, The Go! Team’s second album, is now on release and it’s everything the debut was (a whirlwind of infectious sounds and grooves, including cop show soundtracks, freaky rock-outs and block party thrillers) and more. As anyone who saw the band’s freak-out at the recent Electric Picnic will tell you, The Go! Team walk the walk and talk the talk.
Proof of Youth is loud, brash, funky and über-confident, an album cut from the same cloth as its predecessor, but which takes more chances and aims much higher and further. There are tracks here (Titanic Vandalism, Doing It Right) that could cause riots all on their own.
“In terms of the goals, the album is not a million miles away from the first album,” admits Parton, “because there are still acres of things for us to try when you start thinking about hybrids and sounds you could ram into each other. I wanted the album to be more Technicolor, noisy, schizophrenic and ballsy than the last one, basically another blaxploitation soundtrack combined with noisy guitars and distorted drums.”
Thanks probably to a bigger budget, there’s less reliance on samples.
“We’ve used more live stuff this time around, more brass and vocal collaborations for sure. It does sound like you’re in a room with a band jamming in the corner. And I dig that because it feels like the band are moving from the bedroom into a school assembly hall. But there are still a fair few bunch of samples to the record, and I don’t ever want to lose sight of that, especially that homemade vinyl crunchy and hissy sound.”
The recording process was an opportunity for The Go! Team to see if they could knock some people off their list of fantasy collaborators. “Chuck D was on the hit list; he was probably the first name I ever wrote down years ago. We had to hunt him down. We fired an e-mail off to Chuck without knowing if we had the right e-mail address for him or not. Three months later, it was on.”
Parton saw the collaborations as a way to broaden Proof of Youth’s tone. “I wanted the album to have a mixture of voices to it, be it snippets from documentaries or real vocals, all kinds of different ages and accents.
“On one song, you have the Double Dutch Divas, these fortysomething women from Brooklyn, and on the next song it’s the Rappers Delight Junior, these kids from Maryland at an after-school rapping club. Then we have Marina from Bonde Do Role and Soulex and the legendary Chuck in the middle of it all. I love the idea of confusion and not knowing what’s coming next.”
While the band linked up with major label Sony-BMG for their first album, Proof of Youth will be released on a flock of indie labels around the world, including Memphis Industries, Sub Pop and Japan’s Avex label.
“This way, you have enthusiasts behind you who know their shit. There’s not going to be some departmental change one day, which means everyone who liked you fucks off and the new bloke doesn’t get you. It’s a real rollercoaster with majors unless you’re selling obscene amounts of records. And Sub Pop are interesting because they’re cutting away a lot recently from their grunge heritage with signings like CSS and us. They’ve a pretty freestyle roster right now.”
Yet, as bands earn an even-smaller proportion of their income from record and CD sales, Parton says the temptation to mine other sources, like flogging songs for ads, is immense.
“I’ve had some real dilemmas about that these last couple of years, and I’ve turned about 90 per cent of the offers and sacrificed a fair chunk of change. The one time
Check out The Go! Team documentary and other videos at http://www.thegoteam. co.uk/flash/Super8.php Proof of Youth is out now on Memphis Industries we had to buckle was to fund a support tour with the Flaming Lips and Sonic Youth that we really wanted to do. The label in America wouldn’t pay for it, so we took the advertising cash to enable us to do that. It’s getting harder and harder in a postdownload world for bands like us to make money from records, and I guess that’s how someone could logically reason with it.”
That still doesn’t lessen Parton’s unease with the situation.
“Personally, I would be cringing if I heard Everyone’s a VIP on a yogurt ad, which was an option at one stage. The idea that someone would have first contact with our music through a yogurt would be hard to take.”
Dairy intolerant: The Go! Team’s Ian Parton (far right) has no interest in promoting yogurt