ROCKPALAST: ELECTRIC SOFT PARADE From the Koln Palladium show with Noel Gallagher, December 4th 2011. They played: Empty At The End, Lily, Cold World, Number One, Silent To The Dark, If I Can Dream (click link to watch)
Electric Soft Parade at the Wildwood & Shhh! Promotions charity Christmas all-dayer, West Hill Hall, Brighton, 17/12/11. Songs played: I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas, Take Me Back, It’s Wasting Me Away, Secrets (with Thirty Pounds of Bone) If I Can Dream, Orange Crate Art, Come Back Inside, The Land of Make Believe, Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, Never Again.
How are you guys? A: Pretty good.
You took a couple of breaks since the last album at least so what happened inbetween, I know that you just put out an EP in the summer but inbetween, what happened?
A: We started this band with a guy called Eamon from British Sea Power called Brakes, we did that for a couple of years and took some time off from The Soft Parade but yeah… we’re back, with a vengeance.
Did you both join the other band?
T: Yeah, me and Al. I play guitar in Brakes, he plays drums. We took about 2-3 years break. Last year we did a one-off show, it was just a hometown show in Brighton but the reaction was so good, just playing those old tunes again, we thought let’s do another record. This whole tour came about, we never planned to get out to Europe at all, we always wanted to. This is a real surprise for us that this has all happened.
And the shows in Brighton almost became like a regular thing, right, for a while?
T: Yeah, we did a one-off and a few months later we booked a residency and played all our old records back-to-back. It doesn’t sound like a lot, doing one gig a month but when you’ve got to learn 40 odd songs or whatever it is – quite crazy. It certainly gave me proper perspective on our own songs. I kinda saw what the records are actually like and I realised what I like of what we’ve done and what I don’t like so much. It was a really good learning curve.
Is this the first time also that you didn’t go into the studio, just the two of you, you were joined by the whole band for the first time?
A: Exactly, yeah. We’ve always had changing line-ups… we’ve had the same bass-player, Matthew, for many years, since the beginning of the band. We’ve always had different people playing in different line-ups for each tour pretty much and definitely for each record it’s just been me and Tom pretty much in the studio. But we just felt like we’ve got the line-up now, it’s solid, it’s a great band so… we want to record it you know. It was kinda nice not really playing, I just played a bit of keyboards, didn’t really do anything.
So next album is definitely in line?
A: Oh yeah. We’re hopefully going to be working with the guy that produced the first record, we had a great time doing that so hopefully we should get something as good as that.
In the beginning the music business, it seemed like a really cool start for you guys – there was a bit of resignation going on for a while, is that right?
A: I’ve always thought and said that we’ve had our career in reverse compared to most other bands. We started off on a major, did 2 records on a major and then ended up on a tiny indie called Truck, did a record completely by ourselves. In a lot of ways, we’ve done everything in the complete opposite way that any normal band would hope to have their career you know. But that kinda suits us, you know, we’re kinda weird like that, that’s fine.
We essentially did 2 big budget records first and then the third album cost maybe… A: 800 quid… T: To make, compared to like a hundred grand on the second one.
What was artistically better in the end?
T: When we did the residency back in Brighton, I think The Human Body, which is an EP we put out in 2005, 2006, I still think that as a kind of statement is the best thing we’ve done, as a complete piece.
So it doesn’t have anything to do with money really?
T: Not at all, no. Then there’s certain songs on each of the records that are my favourite moments. As a complete package or whatever, The Human Body EP is my favourite, definitely. There’s stuff on all the records… It’s the same with film making or something, it doesn’t matter how much money something’s had pumped into it, if the approach is right and if someone’s allowed to carry out their vision… A: If it’s a good idea, if it’s any good.
T: People like Sparklehorse, there’s stuff recorded on dictaphone and all these different mediums, you know. Doesn’t affect, if someone’s got that kind of vision.
Are you guys able to support yourselves completely nowadays through music or do you do other stuff as well?
A: No and no is the answer to both of those. We don’t make money really, it pays for itself. Back in the day we used to spend a lot of money going on tour, it would cost 20 grand for a bus, sound guys and tour managers and all this stuff and we’re kind of doing all that ourselves. We’ve got a sound engineer with us. It’s stripped down so it doesn’t cost much to do.
Hopefully we can make this record pretty cheap and make some money off it because the silly thing is when you’re on a major and you’re spending so much money on a record, you can’t really ever make it back… we still owe hundreds of thousands of pounds to the label, we’ll have to sell a million copies just to get anything back.
How do you support yourself financially, what do you do, what other jobs?
A: Nothing, literally nothing, I live with my Dad. I’m telling you that on television in Germany.
Why not, if the artistic thing is behind it, if you’re looking to make music.
A: It’s a bit pathetic really though, isn’t it. We do other things. I’ve literally got the T-shirt. I played with The Wedding Present, I played drums in Hanover last year. That was pretty good, tide me over for a bit.
How about you Tom?
T: I kinda split my time between a place I have with my partner and the family home. But we both live in Brighton yeah.
Any other jobs, any other odd jobs?
T: I’ve done a fair amount of session work, I played with a guy called Patrick Wolf. I played with him for a couple of years which was great. Again just experience I always find that fascinating seeing the ins and outs of how different people put music together. He’s very showbiz. He’s pretty out there with some of the stuff he wears. I love that though, that’s his focus, he’s putting on a show…
Did he make you wear stuff?
T: He made me wear like a boiler suit, at some stage he made me wear a belt with a glittery PW on it.
A: This is onstage? T: This wasn’t on a day off no. He’s totally charming though and I just get on really well with him so it was a good laugh.
Now it’s Noel Gallagher that you’re supporting. Have you met him?
A: Oh yeah. We played with Oasis a few years back and actually Tom was sounded out about possibly playing with Noel in his band and it sort of fell through. Tom was the second choice and then the first choice became available again so he didn’t do it.
Bit cheeky he just went “come on then, give us a support, let’s go” and he did, good on him. Most of these kind of things, it’s some manager or some agent.
T: I texted him “‘ere mate, I’ve heard you’ve announced these shows, give us a support” and he was like “consider it done”.
A: So many people in the chain that could go “my band’s doing that actually”. We don’t have anyone fighting our corner in that way, agents pushing for stuff and things like that, putting pressure on people. We don’t have the profile…
T: If you don’t ask, you don’t get.
A: It’s an honour to do it though, it’s a total honour, he’s a big influence on what we do, definitely, Oasis back in the day were like one of those bands you know for me. Big, big influence growing up.
Do you party with him as well?
A: I haven’t done much partying but we’ve been driving to be honest because they’re on a bus, they’re driving overnight, sleeping man. We’re driving.
T: Last night man, Copenhagen to Cologne in one day.
You once said “I think technology should have just stopped about ten years ago” (interview)
T: If I truly believed that I couldn’t have my laptop… there’s too many things. I disagree with the Thomas White of 2002, whenever that quote’s from (probably 2007) There’s a lot of stuff. My phone died recently and I got a new phone. I just don’t understand that something has to be constantly improved or updated. I just wanted the same phone and they were like “sorry, you can’t get that one anymore”
I also notice that you do quite a bit of charity stuff every now and then. You did this thing for the hospice last year I think and also you did a charity gig for Billy MacKenzie (Associates) You organise these things yourself?
A: The Soundseekers Billy MacKenzie Tribute, a friend of ours, a guy called Gary, he runs the charity Soundseekers and he just asked us to get involved, I won’t take any credit for that. The Martlets thing that we did last year, that kind of kick-started the band again, our Mum died a couple of years ago – she was in that hospice so we wanted to raise some money for a really small independent thing, doesn’t really have much funding. They do amazing work so we wanted to give something back, that was the idea.
Hardly philanthropists do you know what I mean. The most gratifying thing personally I remember doing… we played with The Who at the Albert Hall many years ago, 2002 or something. It was for the Teenage Cancer Trust. Most of the bands walk in and meet some of the patients, some of the kids, teenagers that have cancer and they’re all terminal cases. It’s just mental, being 15 and going through all that stuff you go through when you’re 15 and you’re gonna die in 6 months. It’s crazy.
I guess most bands shake hands and whatever but we managed to hang out for 2 or 3 hours with these guys, played some music, it was just so amazing. They were amazing people, incredible. So full of fun and life. An amazing experience – humbling actually.
What’s going to happen next with The Electric Soft Parade. I think you announced to do some EP’s, what’s gonna happen.
T: Yeah… The main thing is getting in the studio with Chris Hughes and Mark Frith.
Adam & The Ants, I remember Chris Hughes. I’ve been such a fan of Adam & The Ants.
T: So we’re going to try and get in the studio with them, we’ve got 30 new songs written for a new album; demoed, they’re all ready to be started working on.
February the 4th next year is the 10 year anniversary of our first album so we’re gonna play it in Brighton. We’re going to do another of these extravagant hometown shows. So we’re going to play Holes In The Wall in sequence in a really nice place infact not dissimilar to this (looks around) Actually it’s nothing like it…
There’s a really nice place in Brighton called The Old Market so we’re going to do that and we’ve got a fantastic band on with us, called TOY who are gonna be supporting. They’re a relatively new band from London but they just supported us on a couple of UK shows. Absolutely great band (Buy Tickets)
That and a new record and… A: Back to Germany. T: If a promoter from Munster is watching this, we wanna play Gleis 22.
Thankyou guys. A: Appreciate it. T: Brilliant.
ROCKPALAST: ELECTRIC SOFT PARADE From the Koln Palladium show with Noel Gallagher, December 4th 2011. They played: Empty At The End, Lily, Cold World, Number One, Silent To The Dark, If I Can Dream (click link to watch)
SCROLL DOWN FOR FAN VIDEOS FROM PARIS, COLOGNE, AMSTERDAM, LEIDEN
SUB 071 VIDEOS 29TH NOV (click link) BROADCAST, IF I CAN DREAM, LOSE YR FROWN, SILENT TO THE DARK, START AGAIN, EMPTY AT THE END, SOMETHING’S GOT TO GIVE, LILY, COLD WORLD
Tour Diary 2011 Part 2: By way of a second (Europe) instalment of the Tour Diary, here’s a little song I wrote the day after we came home from Europe, pretty much detailing how this particular jaunt around the mainland felt, cut to some photos from the trip. ENJOY! TWX Watch Here
Come All Ye – Le Cargo session at Truskel 5th Dec
ESP Session at lecargo.org Google Translation: After a great concert at Truskel Thomas White and Andrew Mitchell play an impromptu mini-session. We had to record 3 acoustic songs before the concert, but delays and technical problems meant that it was not possible. So they talk about it after the show. They have already given so much for a night, not to mention the fatigue of the tour… The Electric Soft Parade are rock’n’roll on stage but behind the scenes, they are of a rare kind and the opposite of the rock star cliché. So they propose immediately to do an acoustic song for Cargo! The Truskel told us about the basement but there are people and little light, while Thomas suggests the toilets. We hesitate a little but in fact the toilets of Truskel are cleaner and less odorous that some Parisian streets and well above the average bar. So we have to shoot in the toilet lobby with Thomas on lead vocals and guitar and Andrew on backing vocals and go for a classy cover of Fairport Convention.
Casino De Paris 6th December Videos (the concert audio was very loud: may need to adjust volume)
SILENT TO THE DARK by pitifreak
MISUNDERSTANDING by Laurentia05
LILY by wildsessionFR
LILY by saibu79
Photos at rockerparis.blogspot.com “When we get in the support band was already on stage, part of the audience wanted them out, they took it with a laugh; too bad they’ve done a great set ending with a smashing ten minutes song”
Paris Truskel 5th December Videos
Photos by Olivier Rodriguez
NUMBER ONE by saibu79
MISUNDERSTANDING by saibu79
Review + Photos: brightonparis.blogspot.com Google Translation: The two brothers “White”, Alex and Thomas, were present in Paris last week, along with the rest of their musicians for our enjoyment (to our delight) I first had the chance to see them at Truskel on Monday night for a very intimate concert. The group gave us a setlist quite diverse with old songs like the excellent “Silent To The Dark” and new ones like the beautiful new single “Lily”. Thomas begins on synth, while his brother’s on guitar, and then they change, their voices blend perfectly, I loved their complicity on stage, and their comfort with the public. Alex even goes to the drums, unfortunately hidden behind a wall… half of the crowd could not see this excellent performance and hilarious drummer facial expressions. The atmosphere is excellent, we would like these moments to last longer. But we still have a little live acoustic, in the toilet, yes yes!
Review + Photos: lecargo.org Google Translation: The Electric Soft Parade are like a friend you had lost sight of and found in a bar to drink a few pints with. The first song, Start Again, is good and strong as we would not have thought possible in the small corner room that serves as a stage in Truskel. The setlist mixing songs we know by heart with a few excerpts from A Quick One EP, recently released. We find them as good as they have been known some years ago, in fact even better… In a small room, one meter from the musicians, there is no choice we are plunged in with them.
Cologne Palladium 4th December Videos
SILENT TO THE DARK by tent23
START AGAIN by tent23
Rockpalast The songs escalated from an almost gentle way to start the powerful pop tunes. After the absolutely perfect opening song “Start Again” from their debut album ‘Holes In The Wall’, the guys absorbed every second before a large audience. The grand finale The Electric Soft Parade played “If I Can Dream” and left the stage.
Review at pretty-paracetamol.de Google Translation: Before Gallagher and band came on stage, The Electric Soft Parade played. Honestly, I did not know anymore that there is still the band from Brighton. The mid-00s, they were once very popular, their album “No Need To Be Downhearted,” was for me at that time the smartest piece of British pop music. Then they disappeared from my sphere of influence. In the summer of this year, “A Quick One”, an EP with two covers and two new songs… In half an hour they played a good handful of their songs and well. Unfortunately, I missed “No Need To Be Downhearted (Part 1)” and some other great songs from the 2007 album.
neulich-als-ich-dachte.blogspot.com First, there was naturally a support act, in this case, Electric Soft Parade. Like Oasis this British band was founded by a pair of brothers… but at least Alex and Thomas White still pretty good. They opened with their very entertaining performance of “Start Again” and also played their biggest hit “Silent To The Dark”.
Amsterdam Melkweg 30th November Videos
LILY by its211me2
SILENT TO THE DARK by its211me2
COLD WORLD by strangedaysindeed9
Review at incendiarymag.com (click for full review) There’s simply no denying the fact that ESP stepped up a level for their short Melkweg set. Polished, assured, confident and clearly loving and feeding off the larger crowd the five of them simply played their socks off.
They sounded fantastic too, in particular a delightfully quirky Cold World and another fabulous, if somewhat clipped version of Silent To The Dark. However, special praise must be given over to Lily, a song that simply gets better every time I hear it. Its delightful guitar lick gets under your skin quickly, aided by a clever little tip tap drum beat. The way the second guitar comes in to wind you into the chorus works wonderfully too and where that would be enough for most bands and the song could perfectly exist in its form as a quirky little three minute number, I simply love the way they drop the whole thing into reverse, turning the last third of the song on its head. It’s an absolute joy and the kind of thing that ESP seem to be able to do in their sleep but it’s this ability to swap and change styles without ruining the song that marks them out above so many other pop/rock/indie bands.
They came, they saw and while they may not have conquered the Melkweg (for fans were still streaming in through the door as they finished) they certainly left the stage with more fans than they arrived and it was a pleasure to witness them on stage in what is their rightful home. The larger stages suit them because they can handle it… Their tunes are powerful enough, and deserving enough, to play these large rooms and there’s a lot of potential in this current line up that has yet to be fully developed.
Leiden SUB 071 29th November Videos
UPDATE: SUB 071 VIDEOS 29TH NOV (click link) BROADCAST, IF I CAN DREAM, LOSE YR FROWN, SILENT TO THE DARK, START AGAIN, EMPTY AT THE END, SOMETHING’S GOT TO GIVE, LILY, COLD WORLD
BRUXELLISATION by Incendiarymag
Review at incendiarymag.com (click for full review) It was a delight to hear Bruxellisation again, the way the song dovetails between light and dark is a clear example of ESP at their best and even the forced guitar change during Number One couldn’t stop the crowd’s heads from bouncing along with delight. If That’s The Case Then I Don’t Know was remarkable and seemed almost too powerful for this tiny room. Played slightly faster than usual the song tore into life, building up to a quite frantic conclusion but the price of admission was encapsulated in the quite fantastic version of Silent To The Dark. The song must have clocked in at close to fifteen minutes. The extended Krautrock wig out at the end was simply magnificent. With Damo, Matt and Andy in top gear, Tom and Alex traded playfully back and forth between guitar and keyboards for ages, adding layer upon layer of slightly surreal and transcendental musings on top of that momentous rhythm, before building the song up through its riotous tub-thumping section into a fierce and frankly shattering conclusion. Trust me, you’ll want to search the tinterweb to get a listen to this version, it was outstanding.
Whereas normally that would bring the curtain down on any regular show, ESP were having so much fun they decided to treat, nay spoil us, somewhat with the powerful and pounding Broadcast, an ESP remix of Brakes favourite Comma, Comma, Full Stop and a scuzzy, fuzzy and frankly triumphant cover of If I Can Dream. It was a version filled with yearning, self pity and real power, a version the King would have been proud of and with that, ESP left the building.
ELECTRIC SOFT PARADE AUTUMN 2011 UK TOUR REVIEWS + VIDEOS
Tour Diary 2011 Part 1: Places: Edinburgh, Falmouth, Eel Pie Island, Manchester + Newcastle.
Better Looking Records: “live psych jam for Silent To The Dark by The Electric Soft Parade in London”
Oxford Academy, 28th Oct: chrisblizzardphoto.com Click link for Photos: “I’m glad the silence was better than the booing they’d had previously. I guess most people were waiting to see what they sounded like. Turns out, they sounded pretty good, and judging from the audience reaction, everyone else thought so too”
Hammersmith Apollo, 29th Oct: dailystar.co.uk Supporting a big rock star is no mean feat but for The Electric Soft Parade it was a walk in the park. The Brighton gang opened for Noel Gallagher and made waves with tracks from jangly EP A Quick One. With steaming melodies and powerhouse harmonies, ESP sounded more like ELO. The White Brothers (Alex and Thomas) shared vocal duties on Number One and waltzed their way through a cover of Elvis Presley’s If I Can Dream. It’s no surprise Noel’s taken a shine to the five-piece. ESP’s tour continues across the UK this month.
Liquid Room, Edinburgh, 30th Oct: musosguide.com Pleasingly though The Electric Soft Parade were just launching into ‘Empty At The End’ when I wandered through the door so it was a welcome surprise to discover they’re back in this incarnation and that Brakes haven’t become the White brothers’ sole concern (not of course that there’s anything wrong with Brakes). Live the band at times came across like Joe Jackson doing his thing but they have a cosy and inoffensive sound all their own still for all that, with new song ‘Number 1’ fitting well into their canon. Unfortunately their first time back in the city since 2003 was brought to a rather abrupt end mid-anecdote, due no doubt to time concerns, but for what they got the punters were thankful.
Lily at Edinburgh by TheBrokenlizzard on Youtube
Masque Theatre, Liverpool, 31st Oct: link2wales.co.uk Before you could say Electric Soft Parade they were on. Now I’ve seen the name chucked about for years, and always had them down as a Delerium Records type psychedelic mushroom smoking band – maybe I’m confusing them with Poisoned Electrik Head or everyone’s Dads favourite ELO. They have been swimming around the under currents for ten years or so without ever having really broke the surface – and maybe tonight’s set goes a bit of the way to explain as their style swaggers from soft pop to hypnotic rock and back again – from sounding like The Strokes to Squeeze playing The Beatles to something leagues ahead – the penultimate tune (the long one) that jumped from riff to superb riff taking you to that Poisoned Electric place I had wrongly anticipated.
liverpoolmusic.com The night started with a warm up from the Brighton pysch-pop band, Electric Soft Parade who have just returned to music from a two year break, and have jumped straight back into things by releasing “A Quick One EP” whilst touring the UK with British Sea Power. Their sound is somewhat of a mish-mash of Britpop they clearly were inspired by the bands emerging in the early 1990s like Oasis, The Stone Roses and Pulp, nonetheless they have crafted their own sound out of these influences.
Concorde 2, Brighton, 1st Nov: theargus.co.uk If, in 2001, you’d been forced to choose which of these Brighton-based bands would be headlining Concorde 2 in ten years’ time, the clever money would have been on Electric Soft Parade. As it was, they soon clocked-up daytime radio support, Top Of The Pops appearances and a Mercury Music Prize nomination before fading away, while British Sea Power have steadily gathered widespread critical acclaim, a dedicated fan base and ongoing success. It was a bit of a surprise, then, that it was Electric Soft Parade who seemed to be having more fun. Here, amid the brotherly banter that flowed between Tom and Alex White, they reeled-off a classy collection of snappy and bouncy pop treats, played with passion and panache. From the fizz of Start Again to the fuzzy harmonies of Silent To The Dark, they played with the energy and enthusiasm of a new band, not one which was foolishly dropped by the mainstream music business.
Performance Centre, Falmouth, 2nd Nov: Review for Source FM On the 2nd of November 2011 University College Falmouth’s Performance Centre played host to Electric Soft Parade in the small yet and intimate Studio K. After a lively set from support act The Little Leagues the band took to the stage.
The audience intimacy did not seem to faze the band, with singer Alex White commenting “You’re small but perfectly formed”. Emphasis was placed on the band and their musical talent, as lighting did not overshadow and the stage acted as merely a platform for their instruments. The multi-instrumental band were casually suited and booted and seemed confident and comfortable on stage, often interacting with the audience. They smoothly transitioned through their catalogue and played catchy crowd-pleasers such as ‘Start Again’ and ‘Empty At The End’ from their 2002 album Holes In The Wall, as well as their more recent material such as ‘If That’s The Case Then I Don’t Know’ from their 2007 album No Need Be Downhearted.
I felt immersed in the performance as the band played, as I could feel every note, due to the vibration from the amps pulsating through every inch of my body. I would describe the bands style as a psych-pop hybrid of The Beach Boys, The Feeling, The Foo Fighters, with long instrumentals to rival Coldplay, Pink Floyd and Muse appealing to a wide range of tastes. What I loved about the performance was that audience could see that the band were talented musicians and really felt the emotion of each song they played; whether it was one of their own or their take on an Elvis Presley classic ‘If I Can Dream’…They certainly brought a new meaning to Rock ‘n’ Roll.
Deaf Institute, Manchester, 4th Nov: highvoltage.org.uk (click link for full review) Returning to the live fold after a three-year absence, any nerves ESP’s Tom and Alex White may have vanish after they blast through ‘Start Again’ and the perfect slice of pop that is ‘Empty at the End’. The band’s sound is heavier here than on their recordings, where the jangle of acoustic guitar often features, but this is all part of the fun. After all, ESP are a little different to the ‘artists’ usually appearing on the circuit.
For example, they engage in banter, swear, laugh at themselves when they mistime a count-in, and call each other ‘Chief’. At the outset Alex admits that he has a sore throat, before shamelessly popping a lozenge. Cricket jumper-wearing, thick-rimmed glasses territory this ain’t.
ESP’s strength lies in their ability to pull together a variety of indie influences, doing what they do with breezy charm and, yes, guitar solos. The activity on stage as the multi-instrumentalist White brothers switch roles lends energy to the performance. During ‘Silent to the Dark’ Alex picks up sticks and improvises on the toms as Damo Waters, his live drummer, keeps the beat. Clearly confident when jamming out, you get the impression this is how many of ESP’s songs began life.
I would have loved to have heard ‘Why Do You Try So Hard to Hate Me?’ from Holes in the Wall, which doesn’t make it into tonight’s set, but we do get a brilliantly noisy ‘If That’s the Case, Then I Don’t Know’ from No Need to Be Downhearted. The weather outside is filthy, but on this wet Bonfire Night weekend, ‘Lily’ and ‘Red Balloon for Me’ round things out neatly before Tom White sends the fans home happy with the promise that a new ESP album is on its way.
the-fly.co.uk The streamers hanging from the curtains above the stage give tonight’s show an air of a ticker-tape parade. Appropriate considering this is the first tour the Brighton brothers, plus band, have embarked on in more than two years. Fresh from supporting Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, at considerably larger venues than tonight, Electric Soft Parade are a little older, and in some cases a little balder, but time has done little to curb their enthusiasm.
After shuffling on stage with a few nervous smiles, all tension slips away as the band cuts into a bracing blast of a new song. There’s plenty of room at a half-full Deaf Institute on a rainy evening for what is essentially a chance to try some fresh material and get on the road again. But those who chose to stay at home miss a joyful display from a band clearly relishing being back on stage.
The White brothers jostle around, giving each other playful kicks and shoves as they showcase new songs and b-sides. There’s a ramshackle aura about the performance, with false starts and a few missed beats, which only adds to the intimate atmosphere of witnessing the rebirth of a once-great band. At times tonight, ESP display the jauntiness of The Beatles at their most whimsical mixed with ‘Is This It’-era The Strokes. Alex White expresses his disbelief that almost a decade has passed since he released debut album ‘Holes In The Wall’. However, ‘Empty At The End’, ‘Start Again’ and particularly ‘Silent To The Dark’ sound as fresh and relevant as ever – the latter including its traditional extended wig out. Songs from the underrated ‘American Adventure’ are just as good, with their tales of ordinary sadness. Welcome back, then, Electric Soft Parade, a ticker-tape parade on bonfire weekend is no less than you deserve.
Newcastle Academy, 10th Nov: Click here for Photos
Alex White has a new edition of First We Take Manhattan Mixtape Blog: “Hello and welcome back to my blog. It’s been a busy few months, hence the lack of recent updates, but here comes another playlist for your aural delight (I hope). Apologies in advance if you don’t like broadway bulls*** and cheesy 70’s pop music; this edition tends towards that direction” — First We Take Manhattan Blog — Spotify
Thomas White interview on Radio Reverb 20th October – Listen Again: mixcloud.com/jeff-hemmings
Jeff Hemmings on Radio Reverb: This is an interview with Tom which I did quite some time ago (just after the release of A Quick One EP in July) and although one or two bits of it might sound a little bit dated, most of it’s still relevant now so hope you enjoy this.
This is Jeff Hemmings, Radio Reverb 97.2, I’m joined by Thomas White from Electric Soft Parade. We’re going to have a chat with him in a minute but first of all we’re going to play a song from the new EP – the song is called Lily… That was Lily, the new single by The Electric Soft Parade which is out now?
TW: Yeah, came out on the 18th of July. Update: The EP is now on general release in UK independent shops and online, check the stockists list here Your local shop should be able to order it.
What’s the EP called? TW: It’s called A Quick One.
What does that refer to? It’s not The Who is it?
TW: It’s a reference to A Quick One While He’s Away, which is a kind of Who mini opera and it’s a reference to A Quick One records which is the label that put it out, which isn’t our label. It’s a vinyl and download only label based in Paris who kindly are putting out our stuff for the time being, which is very nice.
It is yeah and it’s the first new release for quite some time isn’t it, I think the last album was…
TW: 2007. People seem to lose track of time. I’m quite good with dates but people seem to get very confused. Yeah, 2007, No Need To Be Downhearted.
Yeah and that was 4 years ago and you soldiered on for a couple of years after that but a couple of years ago I guess you kind of stopped doing The Electric Soft Parade didn’t you and concentrated on Brakes and your own project.
TW: Yeah we did a show… we supported Sparks in London in 2008 and we kinda thought, off the back of that, that would be a good one to bow out on for a little break. We’re not the biggest band in the world, it’s not a big deal, we’re not reforming, me and Alex never stopped working together in different guises. It’s just a matter of having a conversation and saying “let’s do it” again, you know and then this label popped up and wanted to help us out. It’s all just kind of snowballing along again.
You’ve just done a series of gigs at The Albert haven’t you where you played your back catalogue each gig.
TW: That was one of the most draining things we’ve ever done. You look at it on paper and you think one gig a month, even though we were doing odd bits and bobs aside from the show. It was like one show a month is the kind of focus; learn each album and then play them in sequence. You think 12 songs to learn in a month isn’t that much and then a friend of mine got married and he asked me to put together a wedding band for that… things started piling up. By the fourth one where we had to learn 11 brand new songs that none of us had ever played before, it was like “ah christ”.
We’re in a good position in that a lot of bands go straight into the studio once they’ve written a new record and they don’t get chance to play it out live but we’re, for the first time in our career, ahead of ourselves in that sense. We haven’t recorded the new album yet. We’ve got it all demoed but we’re playing out and we’ve actually got a chance to really sift through the material and work out what works infront of a crowd and what people react well to and what they detest.
I went to the gig where you did The American Adventure. That was brilliant actually. That worked really well, I was really impressed.
TW: It’s such a strange thing because that record essentially got us dropped from our label at the time and we really fought to keep it the way it was. At the time it seemed like this idiosyncratic weird record and then the reaction was actually the best out of the 3 nights, out of the 3 old records that we played that was one that weirdly seems to have… I don’t know whether we approached it differently to how we did when we recorded the songs, when we recorded the album for real. I think we’re just a better band to be honest, we can just play better…
You did seem to be having a good time as well which always helps.
TW: With all the mad stuff that was going on, politically, with the band at the time, we kind of neglected the fact that the songs were actually quite fun, it’s like a really poppy album. It’s a mixture of, it’s nice to feel that those songs finally got the recognition, or rather finally got the reaction we’d always wanted. Also kind of sad that we weren’t on a label at the time that appreciated what we were doing. I think it’s some of our stronger stuff.
How do you approach music because you have tasted some success, your first album Holes In The Wall was a big seller, you got nominated for the Mercury Music prize and you got signed to a major label. So you had a bit of success with that and with Brakes you’ve been touring regularly, they’ve had some decent success with their albums as well. But now you’re almost starting again aren’t you, are you just doing it for fun maybe?
TW: Well no, it’s very strange, we kind of took a year or two out and the industry… it keeps changing so quickly and there’s all these things like Pledge and Bandcamp or whatever these things are called; they’re new tools for people to use. In the nicest possible way, we’re not really remotely interested in any of that. We’ve never really been interested in any angle on what we do other than just the tunes. It’s the last thing record labels wanna hear. That’s just who we are, we’re very very old-school people. We make a slight concession to maybe Facebook or something but that’s just out of absolute necessity because such a huge proportion of people are on it.
How do you approach music now because when you were successful at the beginning you were very young weren’t you.
TW: I don’t think our approach has ever changed; we’re still just guys hacking away at guitars in a bedroom essentially. It’s very hard to step outside of it. I don’t really pick apart my approach too much, I try and just do whatever feels natural, for whatever project. So with Brakes, it’s a harder edged thing and it demands more upfront energy and it’s a bit of a harder approach.
With the ESP stuff, the focus is much more on the playing, the melodies, making that really clear, it’s much more cerebral musically.
You’ve obviously got music in your blood, haven’t you. You and your brother Alex, Brighton born and raised aren’t you. TW: Yeah there’s not many of us.
You started pretty young, as brothers you were making music from a young age and originally you had something out as The Feltro Media. How old were you when that was released. 15, 16, something like that. It’s a long time ago, isn’t it, we don’t have to talk about it.
TW: We started doing stuff for real in ’97 so I would’ve been 12 or 13 and Alex was a year or 2 older. We did that for a few years and off the back of that… it was real weird the way we got signed. We sent a demo to XFM Unsigned, the show they used to run on XFM. A label heard it, it was a real kind of fairytale. We didn’t run round labels giving endless demo tapes, it was the first label that approached us, started making the record with us.
That label came from the old-school; Dave Bates and Chris Hughes, they had big success in the 80’s with Tears For Fears and Adam And The Ants and stuff. Their whole way of A&R-ing which I loved, I absolutely adored the way they worked; very very hands on A&R. That was just a pleasure, having people that you trust so involved in your songs and so emotionally involved in how the record’s going to sound.
I think we were really lucky because I don’t know any label that would operate like that; it takes full focus all the time from everyone at the label. Everyone was really working together on the record. It took a long time to make the first record but I think it’s probably one of the last records… I don’t know of any band that has that, I don’t know any bands personally who are signed and A&R’d in that way, real old-school…
There isn’t that development money anymore.
TW: No. I keep having this conversation with people; where is the next OK Computer going to come from. Not that I’m remotely a Radiohead fan, I don’t mind them, I’d never listened to them. It’s a different era when a band was allowed to get to their third album. To be fair, Radiohead’s first two records are kinda grunge, they weren’t groundbreaking at the time, they were fine, they had a hit with Creep, that kept them going. But the point is, they were allowed to get to album no.3. I don’t see that happening with anyone.
I can think of countless famous artists who probably would’ve been dropped… TW: In today’s climate.
People like Bob Dylan for instance. I think he sold about 3000 copies of his first album. There was a big debate at his record company, “shall we give him another chance or shall we drop him”. TW: Wow, I never knew that, amazing.
But he had a mentor, he had somebody who batted for him. TW: Someone fighting his corner. That’s the old-school nurturing of an artist. Throughout pop history it’s often the 3rd or 4th record where an artist hits their stride and really knows their craft and all the rest of it; all the cheesy A&R phrases but they ring true.
We’re in the studio this coming week (interview was recorded in July) recording another EP for the same label. We’re testing the water a bit. I think we’re going to go down the route of releasing 4 or 6 track EP’s, not spending a huge amount of money or time on the recordings and just keep the songs coming. We’ve worked out a way how we can do videos really cheap and we can tour really cheap. So we’re just going to keep going. There’s a lot of love for the band and a lot of people know about the band. It’s just about reaching them. As more and more people hear that we’re back on, we’re getting more and more offers and stuff. Like I say, it’s snowballing, who the hell knows. But the plan is really, do a few more EP’s, maybe a couple of one-off singles and then aim for a fourth record next year.
Good stuff. Well it’s good to see you guys back. Definitely one of my favourite bands. The Lily EP (A Quick One EP) is out now.
Good old-fashioned seven inch, yeah. TW: B***** h*** yeah, sorry I mean yes.
TW: Next February is the 10 Year Anniversary of our first record. So we’re going to do an extravagant one down here (Brighton) and play the whole record. We’re going to try and persuade Eamon to reform his first band, Brighter Lunch, who haven’t played since 2001; Eamon Hamilton, Matt Eaton from Actress Hands, John Farmer and John Griffin. People who haven’t been in a room together for ten years. We started out as massive fans of theirs, they’re like a proper band. We were in awe of them and they split and then Eamon kinda had a couple of years in the wilderness and Brakes got together so… we’re going to try and get them together for February.
I’ve got an old demo of Brighter Lunch so I’m going to dig that out. TW: Really? Dig it out, they were great man. A kind of weird mix of funk and country and punk…
A bit like Brakes. TW: Some of the songs were embryonic versions of what became Brakes songs.
Fantastic. Well thanks very much for popping in. We’re gonna play another track off the EP. What’s the name of this song?
TW: This is one of Alex’s which showcases his absolute love for Chicago – the band, not the city. It’s called Number One.
That was an interview conducted a couple of months ago but thought I’d play it out on air now because they are doing a gig in Brighton, they’re playing with British Sea Power at the Concorde 2 on the 1st of November and doing a tour of the UK and as Tom said in the interview, hopefully a big gig in Brighton next year.
Note: Whatever appears past here is an advert and not posted by me.
Electric Soft Parade will be the support for Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds on their debut UK tour!! Edinburgh and London confirmed so far – more to come. The first run of shows have already sold out, but we’ll keep you posted as and when others get booked: Electric Soft Parade Facebook
Electric Soft Parade on Radio 2: Interview Transcript below.
We are joined by Thomas and Alex aka Electric Soft Parade, hello guys.
A: Hello, how you doing. T: Good morning.
Good morning? Might be to you musicians, yeah. The time you roll out of bed, god knows.
T: How you doin’ Shaun? A: We camped here last night, just so we were here in the morning.
Just nipped off across the road for a livener?
A: Oh yes. Little glass of orange juice in the afternoon. T: Lady petrol.
Is that what they call it? That’s what musicians do I suppose isn’t it. It’s the afternoon, the sun’s over the yard arm. Badly Drawn Boy slipped over for a light livener as well.
A: Well it’s that thing of, you don’t do anything all day, you do stuff in the evening but you sort of prepare it at 4 O’Clock or something, you soundcheck and you’ve just got to fill the time.
Pubs are lovely places to hang out.
T: We were lucky we walked in to the particular one we did because Mr Timothy Spall was in there. A: Just hanging out. T: Just in there… random. Amazing.
That made your afternoon didn’t it? T: It absolutely did.
You’re on Radio 2, you’re speaking to a Sony Award Nominee. T: Yeah we heard that, Scott Matthews is a very lucky man.
Before we forget, we must mention why we played A. That song (Elton’s Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds) and B. The Eastenders drum fill at the end. A: It’s a classic fill.
Now from what information I’ve been given… T: I think I can guess this, I think I know this one.
You guys have a bit of form with those particular pieces of music because when you were young boys isn’t it true that one of you picked out the Eastenders theme tune on a piano. T: That was Alex.
A: I did yeah… well it’s the eternal question for me because I have perfect pitch (DJ: I’ve got good relative pitch but not perfect) A: Probably more useful actually because I can’t turn it off. I can be drunk in a club hearing some track and go “the DJ is playing it a bit too quick” or something, I can just hear that detail in it tonally.
But it’s that eternal question, basically my parents heard me playing this tune; working it out and going “that’s a wrong note, oh no I’ve got it, there you go”, working it out when I was about 3, so they say. But my question is, would I have developed as a musician the same way if they’d just gone, “shut up, we’re watching Eastenders”. Would I have developed the same way – I don’t know.
It’s an interesting philosophical point but then of course, Tom, you being the typical younger brother, you got a little bit competitive at this point. T: Yeah I got all jealous.
DJ: “He’s getting loads of attention for that so I need to pick up a Ukelele or something”. T: Or a tiny Martin guitar. DJ: It IS tiny, it’s almost Ukelele sized, the guitar that Tom is playing today. But also, that version of Elton John, Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds; that was something that was played, was it, when you were very young?
A: We had The Best Of Elton John – I’m sorry – The VERY Best Of Elton John with the blue cover. T: Ah! With him with the sunglasses and the weird hat. A: And he does that song that you just played. All the rest of it he sings his standard Hollywood thing then he does this weird sort of nasal voice, it sounds like an impression. My Dad was like, “well that’s John Lennon, he’s doing John Lennon, it’s a John Lennon song” and we were like “who’s John Lennon?”.
My Dad went “right, this is ridiculous” and went and bought the Sgt Pepper tape and brought it back that night from work and we sat as a family and he just went “you’re listening to this record now!”. We just listened to it that day. I was probably about seven or eight.
DJ: It’s one of those things, it’s the ultimate indoctrination isn’t it, The Beatles especially if you’ve got a child with any musical bent whatsoever; hit ’em with The Beatles and it’s like… T: It’s just a whole world. DJ: A portal, isn’t it. With my little boy, when he was 18 months, I got so sick to death of showing him these Baby Einstein DVD’s that I just popped on the Elvis ’68 Comeback Special just on the offchance that he might like it and he was transfixed.
A: Another interesting reference there because we might be dipping into a little excerpt from that particular show at some point in the next few minutes. T: Is that where he debued that song? A: It was written specifically for that performance.
T: You’re tying up all these loose ends. A: It’s beautiful. DJ: I can’t believe I was only nominated for a Sony and didn’t win one. A: Nominated, what do they know? I’ll have a word, don’t worry.
Let’s cut the chat for a minute; we’ve let the cat out of the bag but we are going to play something from Elvis a bit later on. I say we, I’m not. Do you mind if I just put in a little vocal in the background? A: Whistle?
What are you going to play for us first boys?
T: We’re going to do a track called Lily off an EP we put out last month (watch the video)
DJ: This is Electric Soft Parade with Lily.
DJ: Big chord finish, yes! What you’ve experienced there listeners was two kinds of ESP, The Electric Soft Parade but also the ESP between two brothers. A: Oh yes, ESP. We don’t look, we don’t need to. DJ: Extra Sensory Perception. That’s gorgeous. A: Thankyou. T: Thankyou Sir.
DJ: From the new EP, which is out now. A: Out now – A Quick One EP – named after the label that released it, very kindly. T: And a little nudge at The Who. DJ: That’s what I thought, are they doing something off A Quick One… T: While He’s Away.
DJ: There’s going to be another EP out before the end of the year, is that right? A: Yes indeed. While we’re here and people have noticed we did one so we thought we’ll do another one. Might as well do it if people are up for it. We’re doing a kind of Rock EP next. DJ: Are you? A: ROCK! T: It’s kind of ridiculous, it sounds like 30 Seconds To Mars crossed with Big Star.
DJ: Is that Jared Leto? I became emphysemic then just thinking about Jared Leto… A: It’s pretty painful isn’t it. DJ: He makes me breathless for all the wrong reasons. T: It’s all just about tuning your snare drum as high as it’ll go and screaming.
DJ: But Alex is it actually sometimes painful then to be a musician if you’ve got perfect pitch, if one person has got just a slight… do you feel like walking up to somebody’s bass? T: You understand it better than most people, that’s exactly what it’s like; soundchecks and guitar tunings, any frequency that is slightly out of whack.
A: I don’t have it so bad, I can adjust, I can try and ignore it I guess because you don’t have a choice a lot of the time. There’s Opera singers that are tuned in to absolute pitch as they call it. They can’t sing if it’s slightly out, they can’t sing in tune. DJ: The whole Orchestra; “That’s it! Scrap this!”
Ben noticed this when we were listening to the EP downstairs; he maintains that it sounds a little bit like Jim’ll Fix It, the theme tune, the beginning of the song sounds like the beginning of the theme tune to Jim’ll Fix It.
T: Have you guys got it there, can we hear a little snippet? (“we haven’t got it actually”) A: Come on, BBC, you should have it, it should be on archive, what’s up with you?
DJ: I can do a vague impression of Jimmy Savile which is a different thing. I would’ve said that you’re a little bit too young for Jim’ll Fix It. A: Do you know what, I wrote a letter to Jim’ll Fix It, this is a world exclusive, I’ve never told anybody this. I wrote a letter to Jim’ll Fix It when I was about eight. I was obsessed with the News, I don’t know why. I was obsessed with Nicholas Witchell. T: Make of that what you will. A: No not in any weird way I just loved the way he read the news. He’s now some Royal Correspondent but he was my man, he was the news guy for me.
I wrote to Jimmy Savile: “Please fix it for me because I want to read the news with Nicholas Witchell” and I genuinely believed that if I just wrote him a letter he’d probably go “yeah we can do that”.
DJ: (impersonating Jimmy Savile) “We’ve got a letter here from Alex who’s in The Electric Soft Parade and he says that he wants to read the news with Nicholas Witchell” (A: Imagine if I’d been in Electric Soft Parade, 8 year old: “this is our new single”) A: So that never happened but one day… DJ: Those dreams were dashed.
It’s nearly 10 years now since you guys first burst onto the scene. T: It’s more than 10 years since our first single. It’s 10 years next February since our first record. DJ: Because I remember playing Silent To The Dark, which must’ve been the end of 2001, start of 2002. A sort of hackneyed and obvious question but a lot happened at once didn’t it. You got a Mercury nomination, World tour, you were on Jools Holland and all this biz. Is that just “great, it’s happened, thank god we’ve had that experience” or is it difficult for a very young band to have that experience so young because you think “I’ve got to replicate that, I’ve got to try and reach those heights again”.
A: I think different people handle it differently. Some people just go mental and can’t deal with it. It’s such a mill, isn’t it, such a weird sort of experience; being in that world at that age. I wouldn’t change any of it really to be honest. It’s brilliant. There’s been ups and downs but we’re still here. We’ve got no money and no support really from anyone at the moment compared with back in the day. We had this big record label and a team of 50 people working and just money… just endless funds to do things. Now it’s kind of a bit more homespun. But people remember that thing if you’re a big band in their heads and they sort of take you a bit more seriously.
I know a lot of musicians in Brighton, friends who’ve never had a deal, they’re twice as good as we are but they’re just not respected in that way. We’ll always have that. DJ: It’s a benchmark. A: We don’t trade on it, every band says that, but I think this is our best stuff now, I think we’re at our best, we’ve got the live band really good, we’re really comfortable doing what we do.
DJ: Do you think as well with what’s happened to the music industry in the last 5 or 6 years, it’s kind of been decimated by a lot of different things. A: The whole thing’s changed. DJ: In a sense it means that musicians coming into it now, have in a good way, less expectations. It’s just nice to be able to play music for a living rather than maybe when I was a kid it was like, “yeah, we’re gonna get signed and then we’re going to be multi-millionaires”.
T: The whole formula’s disappeared, it’s not the same. A: I think it’s good because when we started out you get signed and there was this team of people laid on to do all the work basically and you just sort of turn up and say hello, that’s about it. Whereas now bands are a lot more savvy to the social network aspect of everything and all the rest of it. They’re a bit more clued up about the industry – having to do things yourself and not rely on publicists and whoever it is to do stuff for you. I think that’s a good thing really because it puts the power back and the workload back on the band.
T: All the stuff that a label would spend the first year of a band’s career doing, a band can now do before they even get signed, for nothing. A: Absolutely.
DJ: On’t T’Internet. T: Did you say T’Internet? DJ: You should try it people. You type WWW (dot) and then you put just about anything in there and there’s a page comes up. It’s weird and brilliant. A: Like a book page? DJ: You can read it or you can click on things, sometimes a video comes up. It’s mad, you should try it.
T: Has anyone ever worked out how big the internet is? All I’ve got to go on, I think it’s on Brass Eye where someone described an area of internet the size of Ireland and I’ve never heard anyone other than that refer to the actual physical size of the internet.
A: Have you seen the map of the internet? T: It looks like the universe.
DJ: I printed it off once, it was a lot of pages. You couldn’t cancel it, it just kept coming. But just to go back briefly, we were talking about the very start; Eastenders, Elton John, The Beatles. What other music informs your playing, what other touchstones are there for you.
A: From the very start, personally, again it was Jimmy Somerville. I’m not joking. I was obsessed with the song Read My Lips (TW: He was great, he’s still great) there was a single out in the early 90’s. I was so obsessed with him, my Dad took me to see Jimmy Somerville. He (Thomas) was too young to go. I was ten. My first ever gig I went to at The Brighton Dome. He was a big gay icon, there were all these 40 year old gay guys just kinda like: “why is a 10 year old kid here”, what’s going on? And me like “why are all these people looking at me, I love Jimmy Somerville”, shutup.
DJ: I did enjoy Don’t Leave Me This Way (A: Communards yeah) T: You Make Me Feel Mighty Real. A: They’re all covers though aren’t they.
They talk about seeing cast members of Aufwiedersehen Pet. T: It’s kinda weird because I watched that film, Still Crazy, I watched that the other day, he’s fantastic… A: He’s great in that. DJ: I interviewed Guy Pratt the other day in the back of a taxi, the bass player for Pink Floyd and people like that. Now he’s a stand up comedian. He let slip that he actually wrote Ain’t No Doubt with Jimmy Nail. T: PRS rollin in.
DJ: Speaking of PRS, someone who needs a little bit of PRS is Elvis Presley. No longer with us, that’s the sad truth. But we touched on it before, the Elvis ’68 Comeback Special. Obviously big fans of the man.
A: We worked with a friend of mine, Sam Devereux years ago. I was in the scouts and he was a bit older than me. He was quite obsessed with Elvis and kinda wanted to be him and he worked out that I could listen to records (the perfect pitch thing) listen to things and appropriate the arrangement pretty quick. So he’d play me these things with 50-piece Orchestras and just go “play that on the piano” and I’d have to get all the parts in on the piano. It was a really good education actually.
So I got into Elvis through that, just kind of never looked back. Amazing. He’s so overlooked as a performer and as a singer. Just a classic individual.
DJ: You’re right. He’s culturally everywhere but musically, what he did, he’s sometimes overlooked. A: I’m sure it’s been talked about a lot but the Winehouse thing, it’s exactly that. She has this aura of stuff around her and actually, she’s a really good singer. Let’s not forget that. It sounds really obvious but let’s go and listen to the records and respect that because that’s actually the point. Not the drugs, not the tabloid aspect of it. It’s about the tracks and she can do it. DJ: It’s about the music.
DJ: Well you boys are about to play one of my favourite Elvis tracks. It’s from the ’68 Comeback Special, it was written especially for the ’68 Comeback Special. Who’s going to be Elvis here?
A: I’m afraid it’s me. T: ALVIS! A: I usually don a pair of shades… DJ: It’s a shame you’ll never get to hear my verson of it but there you go. A: Oh come on. T: Can we have a little snippet? DJ: (sings) I’m more of a “pub Elvis”. A: That’s pretty good. I kind of just do it as me. You have to imagine the Elvis bit I guess.
DJ: So here we are, this is Thomas and Alex, Electric Soft Parade’s version of If I Can Dream by Elvis Presley (watch the video)
IF I CAN DREAM Acoustic
DJ: (as Elvis) Thankyou very much. You did him justice man. You did him justice guys. T: Cheers Shaun. DJ: We’ve got him in mind now, the black background, the red letters, the white suit. A: That’s it. T: That’s the one. DJ: The great story behind that is they wrote that about 2 days before the live broadcast – The ’68 Comeback Special. A: It was rush written exactly for it but it was a reaction if you do the maths, the dates, Martin Luther King was shot very recently before and certain bits were verbatim quotes from the I Have A Dream speech (watch the original)
DJ: Beautifully done, Thomas and Alex of The Electric Soft Parade. The single Lily and the EP A Quick One are out now. There’ll be more from the boys. Keep your eye and ear out later on in the year. Apparently, you’re playing at The Pure Festival at The Garage on the 24th of September.
T: We did actually have some remarkably good news for us. We are allowed to talk about this, a world exclusive. We have the incredible honour – we’ve basically been chosen to support Noel Gallagher at the first run of shows he’s doing with his High Flying Birds. We’re confirmed for Edinburgh and London so far. They’re all sold out (please check the ESP Facebook for further show announcements)
DJ: Well listen, enjoy and thanks very much for coming, Thomas and Alex. A: Thankyou very much for having us, cheers man, appreciate it. DJ: Thanks guys.
It hasn’t sunk in yet; that the ESP returned. Before they did, I hoped it would be with an EP, as with The Human Body in years gone by. My dreams eventually came true as I knew they would. The term ‘indefinite hiatus’ was once attributed to them, I think on their Wikipedia, I don’t know who wrote that, maybe the band themselves.
I can’t say “frustratingly there are no reviews” because with The Electric Soft Parade, that often means a 50/50 split of positive/negative on the same page (yes, I’ve read them all) Although an acquired taste for some, once mastered, there are many delights to discover. Update: a brilliant French review linked below.
To enjoy this EP you don’t need to spend a penny, it’s streaming around the internet i.e. Soundcloud, Official FM and Spotify to name a few. It’s so good to see their new material out there this time on download/vinyl since CD’s are all but dead. More info on how to buy the EP here: A Quick One
So they’ve returned and although that’s exciting in itself, they’ve brought with them the much missed Melancholy to soothe and surround you. Thomas White has released three albums since they disappeared into the ether; I Dream Of Black (Drift) The Maximalist (Cooking Vinyl) and Yalla! (Youtube) but all that time has slipped away as if No Need To Be Downhearted was only yesterday…
They have a re-ignited passion for what they do; something you can’t fake. They mean it now as much as they did in the early days, they have that same hunger for creating something new. All they’re asking of you is one simple question; will you fall in love with them all over again? Will you? Or, would you at least Like them?
This is the bit where I get to play the LILY video on repeat…
For all intents and purposes, they could be young men in an obscure cult band (forgetting their early success) These days that is exactly what they are. They belong to the fans, there’s no gloss, no over-production for mass consumption. There’s just honesty.
The Lyrics and music fit seamlessly on Lily; it’s the kind of song that given airplay, would win people’s hearts. Maybe that will happen in future after the new album’s released. The song is a heartfelt plea; “penned late last year by Thomas, a tale of hope and exasperation”
At the time of writing there is no further comment about the lyrics so it’s up to the listener to discover their own meaning. Thomas details his intrigue with a girl – or is it a boy – “you’ve an itch that you just can’t scratch, a body and life that don’t match” (intriguing) The tale is told to an uplifting musical backdrop as if the song alone could rescue Lily from despair.
Lily, you’ve an itch that you just can’t scratch
A body and life that don’t match
I’ve no mind where you’re bound
Lily, what’s the use in pretending
As if our lives are ending
I just pray you’ll be sound
So take yourself to the nearest doctor
Give it up ‘cos you know he don’t want you
Do it sensibly as hard as it may seem
Give it up ‘cos you know you’re a gonner
Lily how the hell d’you do it this time
Took the rules and bent them out of line
You’re out of your mind
Lily, I’ve advice that you should heed now
On why’s and where’s and who’s and how’s
And when you come down
Take yourself to the nearest doctor
Only he’ll be the one who can help you
Do it right away and start another day
That is all I’ll say
Beautifully confident vocals with a guitar line to match. The video as captivating as the song itself… monochrome with snatches of colour just as the Lyrics give slight hints of hope.
There’s a nice French review up and I’m inspired to get stuck into writing about first hearing If I Can Dream back in the 80’s, in the living room with my Dad, both of us staring in awe at the screen as I discovered the best song of my life. The passion in his voice as he sang like his life depended on every word. Jump forward so many years to today… ESP’s cover has that exact same feeling – revamped as Beatles heavy rock – originally from the Elvis ’68 Comeback Special but what a song to come back with, for both of them. ESP covering this song isn’t something I’d ever have dared dream about.
With their own music, ESP have a talent for good, oldfashioned songwriting. They’ve always seemed older than their years. Maybe because they were brought up on music from a different time. I’ve never heard this song covered before and I need never hear another cover again because nothing could top this. My favourite band covered my favourite song, what more could I ask for.
More than that, I’ve missed Alex, on vocals at least (he belongs to the TW solo project but here, he’s center stage) His fast footsteps in the video remind me of John Lennon walking through Central Park (and his message; Imagine all the people, living life in peace) There’s a sense of hopeful urgency.
When Elvis sang it, there was desperation in his voice. You can’t say the message is naive because you want to believe it – you have to. Even if change doesn’t happen in our lifetimes. Maybe after we’re gone the day will come when all human beings can live without fear. Maybe that place is where we all go one day. It’s probably true but while we’re here we need something to hold onto.
His vocal is more matter-of-fact than Elvis because it’s 40 years later than the original; shouldn’t we have change by now. Instead of some countries refusing blindly to support basic human rights (hard to believe that includes Europe) Elvis knew the subject matter more than anyone, he knew about the prejudice towards a white boy daring to sing the blues
I couldn’t write about this song without reliving many emotions but it’s a link to my past when I really needed to hear Lyrics like this; music is always there for you and reminds you you’re not alone. There’s so much power in this song and a message more relevant now than ever.
There must be lights burning brighter somewhere
Got to be birds flying higher in the sky more blue
If I can dream of a better land
Where all my brothers walk hand in hand
Tell me why can’t my dream come true?
There must be peace and understanding sometime
Strong winds are promised that’ll blow away the doubt and fear
If I can dream of a warmer sun
Where hope keeps shining on everyone
Tell me why won’t that sun appear?
We’re lost in a cloud with too much rain
We’re trapped in a world that’s troubled with pain
But as long as a man has the strength to dream
He can redeem his soul and fly
Deep in my heart there’s a trembling question
Soon I am sure that the answer’s going to come somehow
Out there in the dark there’s a beckoning candle
While I can think, while I can talk
While I can stand, while I can walk
While I can dream, please let my dream come true
I can only dream that I could have discovered Elvis through hearing this song; imagine how mindblowing that would be…
Often Thomas takes on more of the promotion duties (i.e. radio interviews) but whenever an ESP interview’s announced and Alex isn’t there, my heart drops because to me, ESP is both of them equally.
Alex has another song on the EP; Number One. The press info states; Alex’s Chicago-esque piano stomp – sets banal self-help-book lyrics to the simplest, most economic melody, and of course, chord changes to die for.
Thomas joins on vocals towards the end and the song builds to a crescendo. It’s a tale of independence; wanting to do things your own way and how hard it can be to carry on. It’s the story of ESP; they’ve never had it easy, they’ve worked hard to prove their credentials time and time again. But keep going they have – the Brothers White are most definitely back, there’s no missing that orchestration…
Did you hear the noise they made
Coming in loud and out of fate
I forget it’s been a year
I wake up and it’s August here
Keep moving, keep trying – why
Everything seems to pass me by
Yes I am aware that you make it wrong
But how can you move what’s made of stone
You can’t go on letting it slide
It isn’t good enough to try
Nobody listens to you then
It only matters how it ends
I’m going out and coming home
I never wanted to be shown
I want to find it by myself
Why don’t you just go somewhere else
Do you have the time these days
To think of things that go to waste
Stiff upper lip and soldier on
Cliches ringing like the sound of beats on a distant drum
Keep living, keep plugging away
So much left to begin to say
Half finished thoughts and moments lost
How many times can you say because
I’m getting tired… Oooooh!
Thomas multi-tracks himself into a barbershop choir on the Van Dyke Parks cover Orange Crate Art, creating a work of beauty with vocals alone; “recorded at home for a laugh, it immediately sounded too good to keep secret”. Often his work has a hint of the choral about it but you haven’t heard anything like this before…
If you have a minute or two please write a few words on the new EP and spread the word on your Blog/Facebook/Twitter etc. You can also share this Blog but I’d love to read your thoughts too…
Share the Electric Soft Parade Facebook page everywhere you can – if they hit 5,000 likes by September 2011, they’ll give everyone who helped out a link to a free download EP of demos, rarebits and newbies: Electric Soft Parade Facebook
A Quick One EP And now to 2011. After a chance meeting, the band are currently working with A Quick One Records, and the first fruits of this union are ripe and ready now. ‘A Quick One’ EP does just what it says on the tin. First up we have a song from each of the brothers. ‘Lily’, penned late last year by Thomas, is a tale of hope and exasperation set to an ascending, mind-bending chord progression, not unlike mid-period Fanclub, just… weirder. ‘Number One’, on the other hand – Alex’s Chicago-esque piano stomp – sets banal self-help-book lyrics to the simplest, most economic melody, and of course, chord changes to die for. The second half of the EP is taken up with two covers – a complete re-rendering of Elvis’ ‘If I Can Dream’, ripped from its’ gospel roots and firmly transplanted into a drone-rock future, and an A Capella reading of Van Dyke Parks’ ‘Orange Crate Art’; recorded at home for a laugh, it immediately sounded too good to keep secret. The band will be playing shows throughout the rest of 2011, releasing new music via the internet, polishing their act and readying themselves to record the LP of their lives…