IT

Prog gets po­lit­i­cal with this Lon­don col­lec­tive.

Prog - - Limelight -

“THE LON­DON RI­OTS WERE THE CAT­A­LYST AND THE SYM­BOL OF THE EN­TIRE RECORD.”

From 21st Cen­tury Schizoid Man’s tirade against the Viet­nam War, through Pink Floyd and Mar­il­lion, right up to Steven Wil­son’s re­cent cross­over hit, prog artists have long ad­dressed so­ciopo­lit­i­cal is­sues, with lyrics go­ing far be­yond the stereo­type of songs about hob­bits and wizards. The grand scope of pro­gres­sive mu­sic has proven to be fer­tile soil in which to plant lyri­cal seeds of doubt, de­spair and hope.

Lon­don-based band IT (pro­nounced ‘it’) re­leased their fifth al­bum We’re All In This To­gether back in

March, the lat­est in a tril­ogy which meets the mod­ern malaise head on. Front­man and lyri­cist Nick Jack­son faces down aus­ter­ity and in­equal­ity on the al­bum.

“I come from a po­lit­i­cal fam­ily,” he ex­plains. “My fa­ther’s a po­lit­i­cal sci­ence pro­fes­sor. I grew up with pol­i­tics around me so my style of writ­ing is more so­cially con­scious.”

He laughs self-dep­re­cat­ingly. “Try­ing to put the world to rights!”

The Cana­dian started IT as a solo psych-pop project in 1993, record­ing two cas­sette-only re­leases. Af­ter a pe­riod of tour­ing mul­ti­me­dia per­for­mances with guest mu­si­cians, the first of­fi­cial band re­lease came out in 2002, with Jack­son’s prog in­flu­ences com­ing more to the fore. This re­lease, Over And Out, flows as one song, a self-con­fessed “Floy­dian pas­tiche”, re­plete with news­reel ex­cerpts, voiceovers and gospel vo­cals.

2009’s De­par­ture saw the ar­rival of Andy Row­berry on gui­tar, and the newly forged writ­ing part­ner­ship re­sulted in a more ag­gres­sive sound suited to its vit­ri­olic at­tack on the Iraq War.

The spark for fol­low-up We’re All In This To­gether was ig­nited by 2011’s Lon­don Ri­ots.“When that hap­pened we were still do­ing in­ter­views for De­par­ture,” ex­plains Row­berry.“It was on the news while Nick was do­ing a Skype in­ter­view with some lady in New York. She was see­ing it on the news. We were hav­ing a text con­ver­sa­tion with each other.‘This was hap­pen­ing up the top of my road! It’s on my doorstep.’ Sud­denly you think, ‘Now we have some­thing to fo­cus on.’”

Jack­son adds,“That was the cat­a­lyst and the sym­bol of the en­tire record. De­par­ture was lyri­cally much more about global events whereas We’re All In This To­gether is more Eng­land-fo­cused, lo­calised. It re­ally brought it home for us.”

The al­bum pre-or­der in­cluded a lav­ish deluxe edi­tion with bonus DVD. Vi­su­als have al­ways been an im­por­tant con­cern for IT, even from those early live per­for­mances. The aes­thetic of the deluxe pack­age fed sym­bi­ot­i­cally into the mu­sic.

“It was a col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween my­self and Melissa Con­nors, a pho­tog­ra­pher friend in Canada,” says Jack­son.“We flew her over and she and I went to Liver­pool and got all those street scenes of aban­doned houses. Melissa and I started work­ing on images for the dif­fer­ent songs even while I was still fin­ish­ing verses, which is great be­cause it helped me to get an over­all vis­ual and would help me fo­cus.”

“It’s not just there to look pretty, to cover the fact that we’re all ugly,” jokes Row­berry. “It all ties to­gether.”

IT all ties to­gether very well, Andy. Cm

THE IT CROWD.

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