Interview with Thomas White at Mudkiss Fanzine

TW: We should trademark that, man! That’s our thing – upbeat, poppy music with this sucker punch of melancholia. I don’t know how else to describe it, but that’s basically every record we’ve ever made.

Here’s some quotes, read the full interview at Mudkiss Fanzine

ANDY: Do you make long term plans for recording or is it a case of you wake up one morning and think, I must give Alex a ring, it’s time to make a new ESP album?

THOMAS: (Laughing) I don’t know what the catalyst for this was, really… I don’t write with anything particular in mind. I write almost constantly, and then things find their way to different projects… some things I won’t play to anyone (Laughing) I had a period of writing that sounded like some of our earlier stuff and I just thought we should do a new ESP record – there’s a lot of people out there who’d love to hear another one. So I had this burst of writing in about 2010 -2011, and then it all just spiralled from there. We went on the Noel Gallagher tour and that generated a bit of interest, we did that little single, ‘A Quick One,’ – the vinyl single – and then we started talking to the label we’re on now – it’s the same guys who produced our first record… so yes, it’s Chris Hughes and Mark Frith, who made the first record with us – they’re now running a label and in fact the guy who signed us to that first label back in the day – Tom Friend – he signed us again, he was working with them, so it’s all the same crew, just ten years on, which is a bit weird.

ANDY: Although there’s a real mixture of moods on the new album, it’s much lighter than your earlier material, particularly musically.

THOMAS: Yeah, I think it is… in the nicest possible way I think we put a lot of thought into who likes the band, what they like about us and what our strengths are… there was a lot of deconstructing what’s been successful about what we do in the past and why, and then applying all that to a new record but I kinda say that in inverted commas, ‘cos it’s not like we’re pandering to an audience or something, it doesn’t feel like that. We’ve been around for so long we can genuinely look back now and take stock of things, and reappraise why certain things worked and why others didn’t. I think our strengths are the vocals and the harmony and, like you say, that kinda lightness… I think we’ve possibly buried that a bit in the past, undermined it with interesting production or whatever. For this record we definitely wanted to strip all that back and just make a light pop record, a very Summery record you know.

I think a lot of this record is realising that, as a band, we don’t need to shy away from what was appealing about us in the first place and that’s something we have shied away from in the past. I think we’re now in a place where we’re a bit more accepting of all of that, and just a little bit more at peace with what people like about us… you get that with a lot of bands – they’re tarred with a particular brush. I don’t mean that in a negative way, they’re just labelled as something and they spend their entire careers trying to outrun those comparisons… I think we’ve finally got to a place where we’ve just thought, fuck it, if people like us for that, we’ll be that pop group people want us to be, you know?

ANDY: There’s a couple of the tracks on the album which refer directly to the personal loss you experienced, are they difficult to write with the obvious emotion that surrounds them?

THOMAS: It’s very hard to de-construct, so I guess the songs are some way of me trying to make sense of it all… they say grief takes, what, three years or something for you to really get through? Still, not a day goes by I don’t think about it… I think anyone who even attempts to write about that kind of stuff is still just trying to make sense of it for themselves. You never get to a point where you go, “right, death, I’ve nailed it (laughing) here’s the blue print for how to deal with it”. The songs are just me beavering away through those emotions or whatever. You say the record’s a light record, but wouldn’t it be a waste to process all that stuff and for the finished record to just come out sounding maudlin. It seemed right that if we were going to pay tribute to someone, or reflect on all that’s happened, then we should do it in a positive way – make something out of it rather than just wallowing.

I think it’s how you choose to tackle it, and I thought for us… I feel like there’s very, very reflective moments on the record, very personal stuff. Yet as a picture, the whole record’s quite light, it’s all very positive, despite the subject.

ANDY: Again, that’s one of the key factors – the melancholic feel comes across without going too dark.

THOMAS: We should trademark that, man! That’s our thing – upbeat, poppy music with this sucker punch of melancholia. I don’t know how else to describe it, but that’s basically every record we’ve ever made (Laughing)

We both want to do another ESP record pretty quick though, definitely within the next year or so, make that a more regular thing. We can’t wait six years – it’s just not sustainable if you do it once every six years (Laughing)

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Transcript: Electric Soft Parade on BBC 6 Music 20th June

Marc Riley BBC 6 Music 20th JuneListen Again

MARC RILEY PART ONEMARC RILEY PART TWO
MARC RILEY PART THREEMARC RILEY PART FOUR

SONGS: IdiotsOne Of Those DaysSummertime In My Heart
Brother, You Must Walk Your Path Alone

M: They’ve only been here about an hour and a bit but I’m delighted and thrilled to say we’ve got the return of The Electric Soft Parade tonight. Hello guys. ESP: Hellooo. M: Really good to see you. Everybody but Alex, I have to say, is a little bit green around the gills. You were on the pop last night. He’s buzzin this lad here, he’s been driving and he’s been on the coffee all day. T: He’s been on harder stuff than just coffee. I didn’t know whether I was allowed to say Red Bull on air. M: Well you’re not but I am. I’ll probably get the sack for it but that’s alright. Of course you’ve taken your shades off now Thomas but I couldn’t help, it was a bit like an expostulation but I just had to shout “proper rock star” everytime I saw you. T: Every time. I’ve taken them off now though just for you Marc. A: He’s an improper rockstar right now. M: Oooh steady it’s only quarter past seven.

M: So you were at Rough Trade weren’t you doing an instore last night. Both: Yes. M: Can you do a trolley dash. Did they let you get a big trolley and just run round and take everything you can get in 10 seconds… A: Back in my day, when we started, that’s what we used to get. You used to get a bit of freebie action. Once you’d finished it they’d go, go and spend your money. Alas no. M: Not anymore no. It’s times of austerity. A: They gave you some water, that was very nice of them, it was very hot so that was much appreciated. M: You can ask for no more. And you were in the mighty Rough Trade obviously. A: Quite right. M: So you’re gonna do four tunes for us tonight. A: Apparently so. M: That’s the good news, the bad news is that we’ve kind of stolen one off Gideon Coe because you didn’t have time to pre-record it before so we thought, we can’t waste it. Sorry Gid. He can repeat them anyway can’t he. So the first of the four tunes that Electric Soft Parade are going to do for us tonight is… A: Summertime In My Heart. M: New single. Fab.

Summertime In My Heart

M: Effortless and really really brilliant, Electric Soft Parade live in session with what is the new single, Summertime In My Heart. Really great. So yeah, three more if you don’t mind fellas.

M: Electric Soft Parade back in the room, hello guys. Proper rock star! What tune are you gonna do now for us then. T: We’re gonna do the first single we put out off this record, it’s a song called Brother, You Must Walk Your Path Alone. And this one goes out to my class down at Brighton City College. They’re listening in, it’s the end of the course and they’re having a right old party I’d imagine. M: How old are they? T: Around my age, a little older, a little younger. M: They’re old enough to drink then. T: They’re old enough to have a lot of fun on the last day of term as it were. M: Good on you lot and you’ve got a famous teacher. T: I didn’t mean for a second that I take a class. I mean I’ve been going to a class. M: Really? I’m not blowing smoke up yo ass but what can you learn? T: It’s interpersonal skills, helping skills, counselling. Heavy stuff. Lovely class though, this one goes out to you guys. M: OK excellent.

Brother, You Must Walk Your Path Alone

M: Truly sumptuous, Electric Soft Parade live in session; Brother, You Must Walk Your Path Alone. So one of you guys, will you introduce the rest of the members of the band please. A: Please do, Tommy boy. M: He’s Tommy boy obviously. T: My name’s Thomas White, to my left we’ve got a mute keyboardist with no microphone trying to communicate something to someone else wearing a pair of earplugs with headphones over the top. M: He’s called humpty dumpty, I think he wants to remain anonymous. Is that what we’re saying. T: Nonsense. Alan Grice here on the keyboards, my dear brother here Alex White on Fender Jaguar, a little midi keyboard type affair and vocals, Heather Urquhart on guest vocals, she’s up with us today singing on a couple of tunes. H: Hi. T: Mr Damo Waters on the drumkit. Longstanding chap of steel Matthew Twaites on the bass guitar. M: He’s very quiet today. A: He’s subdued. T: As you said green around the gills. M: I was specifically talking about him, you’re dead right. T: And Mr Andrew Claridge on various beautiful guitars. M: Yeah absolutely, I’m slightly jealous of his talent and his guitars.

M: OK so the album, Idiots, six years between the albums, a bit of an obvious question, but what does it take to fire up Electric Soft Parade. Is it like you’re sat there in the pub one night and you just go “brother, we gotta make a record”. A: Infact we were gonna call that song “brother we gotta make a record” but we thought don’t be ridiculous. It’s a natural thing, it’s not like we think oh let’s wait 6 years. Things happen, things change and record labels disappear and reappear again and various things like that. Lots of other projects on the go and all that sort of thing. It just felt about the right time, we hooked up with the guys that did the first record, the sort of team around that – the production team, just spent a bunch of time doing it and here we are… it’s just how long it took I guess.

M: You always keep busy don’t you, you’ve been back in and out of the studio with lots of different groups. And it’s called Idiots which I read one of you did say the Idiots in question are you two. A: Well, I think it’s open for discussion. T: You said that didn’t you. A: I think I might have said that. M: It’s not open for discussion though unless your going to have a conversation with yourself. You said it Alex, what do you mean?

A: I think we’re naturally self-deprecating English people, that’s the nature of it and I like that self-reflective thing, it’s all a bit silly and “come on”… I like all that. M: I’m sure you’ve probably beaten Prince to that album title. I’m sure he sits there and thinks “I’m an idiot, I like playing practical jokes on people, word’ll get out eventually, I’ll call my next album Idiots”. T: I said onstage the other night in Bristol, I think we need to establish ourselves as the Stewart Lee of indie, I think that’s a good analogy. M: I think your delivery was slightly Stewart Lee then anyway. T: It’s just the nature of how we deconstruct things… there’s no similarity whatsoever to what we do, essentially.

M: I was talking to Alex before because you being a proper rock star, you were just walking about doing interviews… A: Signing autographs, whatever. M: Alex said to me, one of the touchstones for the album would be, in the concept of the record itself and the sound of it, Rumours by Fleetwood Mac, would you agree with that Thomas. T: There’s a little bit of it in there… there’s a lot of Steely Dan on the record, a lot of Chicago, a lot of Robert Wyatt, a lot of The Clientele, they’re a massive influence on a lot of songs I’ve been writing recently. M: ELO get an honourable mention as well. T: The track Mr Mitchell which is obviously about Andrew Mitchell, it’s so obvious… M: Why do you even say it, don’t patronise me mate… T: You’ve met the great Andrew Mitchell, right. So that track, we had Mr Blue Sky as the blueprint for it and obviously it’s a completely different song again, a lot of those references, a lot of that very clean 70’s pop type stuff.

A: I think the Rumours reference, the idea was it was a record that was undeniably a great record, whether you like it or not. M: You’d admire it even if you didn’t sit down and listen to it. A: You don’t have to love Rumours to accept that that’s a great piece of work and important. That’s kind of what we were going for. M: And it’s getting namedropped more and more that particular album, as is ELO, I think it was Jason Lytle from Grandaddy who was the first person to own up and say actually excuse me, I like it… I saw ’em in 1975, just wanna make you jealous probably. Did it work? T: Terribly jealous. A: That’s pre Xanadu… M: It wasn’t the big Beatles sounding stuff but they were good. A: Eldorado’s a great record actually, early 70’s. M: I tell you what I have got in my bag, I shouldn’t say it on air but I’ve got 10cc’s Greatest Hits, I saw them as well, twice in one night.

M: We’ve got Electric Soft Parade live in session, they’re doing two more tunes for us, one right now. So the third tune will be? T: This is the title track from the record, this is Idiots.

Idiots.

Wow that was fabulous, epic. Electric Soft Parade live in session with Idiots, I was going to come out of the end of that and just go “idiots” but I couldn’t, it was just that good, really brilliant… we’ll have one more in a short while, work those suckers to death ‘eh. T: Nice one Marc.

M: So you’ve done some dates already but I’ve just had this through from Mark, fantastic session tonight, only 13 hours til tickets go on sale for their October gig at London’s Bush Hall. T: Well he knows more than we do. A: Can you get us one ‘cos I’d quite like to go to that. M: I can see that you’re playing on the 20th of July, you’re playing at the Truck Festival. T: And the night before we’re playing a very very special show supporting The Levellers on their first Brighton show for about 15 years, which is a big deal. M: On the 20th you are playing the Truck Festival as I say but you’re playing on the Virgins and Veterans stage, where do you fall into the… T: Interestingly enough Al had a period of writer’s block and came out the back end of it and wrote a ton of amazing songs, they were too expansive and long and weird for the new ESP record, if I may say so myself. A: You may certainly, I think you’re right. T: And he’s formed a band around that called Interlocutor so at about 3 o’clock in the afternoon that band will be playing, I play drums. A: We’ll be playing as virgins. T: As virgins and as veterans, ESP will be playing about 9.30 in the evening. A: Literally same stage. T: Does that answer your question. M: It really does, probably a bit too indepth.

M: I noticed before and I never realised because I am a bit daft… T: Bit daft… M: Chris Hughes produces your record or some of them. A: Indeed. The first and this last… T: He did the first one way back in the day, he runs the label that we’re now signed to and produced the new album. M: I didn’t realise we were talking about Chris Hughes, of Adam and The Ants and he’s worked with so many different people. An absolutely amazing producer. T: I think our first run in… we didn’t know him at the time, he produced the first Gay Dad album, they’re a much derided band but for many members of this group myself included, that first album’s just an incredible record. And I think they got tarred with the brush of having a divisive name but actually it’s an amazing record, Chris’s attention to detail’s just all over that record and I think on everything else we’ve done with him. M: Producing Adam Ant pop record’s is pretty amazing, Robert Plant and Paul McCartney. A: And he co-wrote Everybody Wants To Rule The World. M: Did he really, kerching! Much respect is due, great producer and a great record and a great band, I’m blowing smoke up yo ass now. T: You keep swearing, we’re not allowed to swear.

M: Do you wanna do one last tune then? T: This one features our dear friend Heather Urquhart on vocals and I want to dedicate it to me and Al’s friends Duncan and Jadine down on Langdale Road in Hove. M: Don’t give out the number. Good work, ok get to it.

One Of Those Days

M: Bit of class from start to finish, Electric Soft Parade live in session, One Of Those Days. You’re great, thanks for coming in. A: Appreciate it. T: It was worth it.

Q + A with Alex White at CMU

Brothers White

Q + A with Alex White at CMU – Click the link for a very long interview, here’s a few quotes:

Being brothers we were never really ‘apart’ as a group, and actually having most people think we’d split up, or weren’t doing any more records, was quite liberating in that we were able to work on upwards of a hundred songs for this new record and work our way through to the very best stuff at a pace we were comfortable with.

The songs were formed over a rather long period, some coming in a while back, but most probably came in an inspired burst of Tom’s writing in the last year or so. We had an initial meeting with Helium, the label that we are now with, in which Chris, the label boss and producer of the album, made the point to us that though there was some excellent stuff we had written, he wanted to get back together with us and make a ‘great’ record, a classic. With that thought in mind, Tom was inspired to go back to the drawing board and really push himself. During this period he wrote ‘Summertime In My Heart’ and several other of the bigger pop tunes on the record, responding directly to Chris’s desire for the ultimate pop record.

The actual work on the album started over a year ago, and gradually we worked through everything with a tooth comb until we had what we as a team deemed the right result. It really was like making a film or something, rather than just getting in a room and playing. It took the best part of a year to get right, and in my view it’s a perfect piece of work. Given the time spent on it, and the time away in between sessions to refocus, it’s been a privilege to get to work in this way, and to really make sure we had something we were proud of and that people would enjoy.

The natural disposition of the writing in the band has tended towards more pop based ideas and sonics, based on what we’ve been immersed in over the last few years. Always big pop fans, we decided to let this be our pop masterpiece!

Hopefully the sound is more refined and more ‘mature’; I don’t know, personally I hate all those words, it just makes the stuff sound dull. Actually I’m very proud of this record and I think it’s a genuinely great thing, which is more than I can say of any of our other records. That itself is an achievement in my view, when one can truly be happy with what one envisages and what one actually creates.

Across the album, I’d say there are feelings of love, of expression of one’s feelings, of discovery and reflection, of loss and all that brings, and mainly of total, unashamed honesty. There’s a lot of pretending in music in my view, and it’s a pleasure to sing lyrics that are totally from the heart and unapologetically straight and honest. We lost our mother to cancer a few years back and while it was a devastating time, I think she would be very proud to hear the words in these songs that relate to that experience. The raw expression of love and death that comes through in these songs is some of the truest emotion I’ve ever known people around me to be able to convey. It’s very humbling.

Frankly, as long as there’s an audience for it, and even if there isn’t, we’ll probably keep doing albums sporadically until we die or get sick of it, neither of which I can foresee with any clarity. I feel like we genuinely add something to the music scene that others cannot and it’s worth seeing where that takes us for a while longer yet.

Electric Soft Parade at The Green Door Store, 17th June

Videos by: youtube.com/user/KrudsterVideo PlaylistGreen Door Store Review at The Argus: “Gentle tracks with instantly recognisable opening riffs included Brother, You Must Walk Your Path Alone. Blissfully timed, the short tracks left you yearning for more”

Idiots – title track from new album IDIOTS.

Brother, You Must Walk Your Path Alone – single from IDIOTS album.

Summertime In My Heart – single from IDIOTS album.

One Of Those Days – track from IDIOTS album.

Mr Mitchell – track from IDIOTS album.

Never Again – closing track from IDIOTS album.

More Videos: Silent To The DarkCold WorldLose Yr FrownEmpty At The End

Electric Soft Parade on Marc Riley 20th June

Marc Riley @ BBC 6 Music Thurs 20th June, 7pm – “Hello again to The Electric Soft Parade – all the way from sunny Brighton – good job. The new album, the bands 4th, is out this week and is called Idiots. It’s been 6yrs since the release of the last album 2007’s No Need To Be Downhearted. The brothers Thomas and Alex will be bringing their live band with them for the session and we couldn’t be more pleased”

IDIOTS Album Reviews

IDIOTS ALBUM REVIEWS Click link – Here’s some quotes from the latest ESP Mailout:

DAILY EXPRESS: “They return with a truly sunny disposition. Summertime In My Heart and The Sun Never Sets Around Here highlight their harmonies, almost Beach Boys-like in precision”

NME: “The album thrives when the Brothers White play to their strengths. These include restrained power pop, as on unfuckwithable opener The Sun Never Sets Around Here, and woozy slow-burn epics like The Corner Of Highdown And Montefiore”

MAIL ON SUNDAY: “Absurdly talented… Brother, You Must Walk Your Path Alone glides along on a Bacharachian melody; The Corner Of Highdown and Montefiore builds to crashing heights; and Never Again provides an elegant closer… I wonder why they’re not more famous”

Here’s some quotes chosen by Thomas White:

THISISFAKEDIY: “…glorious songs that combine an understated charm with a rich melodic quality – the wonderful sound of The Electric Soft Parade belatedly coming of age…”

ROCKSUCKER: “…whether set to “craft” or “adventure”, IDIOTS is a procession of musical sweet spots from start to finish… one of 2013’s most exceptional albums…”

BRIGHTON MUSIC BLOG: “…rammed with brilliant, sunny guitar pop tunes – a great comeback for the White brothers…”

MUDKISS FANZINE: “…even in the more sombre moments has the capacity to uplift… I seriously doubt you’ll hear a more beautiful record all year…”

Q MAGAZINE: “…they can still pitch harmonies like Shane Warne can a cricket ball, and write melodies that fly straight off the bat, as on Summertime In My Heart”

Burtski Subotniks Radio Show Parades Its Softness

LISTEN AT MIXCLOUD HERE — ESP Website: electricsoftparade.co.uk

The Electric Soft Parade, Brighton’s premier band, born and raised in Brighton, one of the musical combos that we are most famous for. They release their latest album IDIOTS (out on 17th June) I caught up with the lads at the weekend and did a little radio interview with them so this is Tom and Alex of The Electric Soft Parade with the odd grunt from Clanger.

Hello it’s Mikey here, I’m with the almighty, all conquering Electric Soft Parade. It’s a Sunday, they’re just chillin, they’re getting ready, they’re rehearsing for their new album.

Tom, new album, new guitarist, what excites you the most?

TW: Clanger’s… what the **** am I gonna say? Clanger’s **** really… can I say that? That’s just ruined the interview straight away.

OK let’s put it this way. What do you feel about your new album, it’s called Idiots, are you excited about it?

TW: Yeah as one review already put it “it’s rare you get an album named for the people who won’t buy it”.

Tell us about it; direction?

TW: It’s probably the least fashionable thing we’ve ever done. And it sounds like a mish mash of a lot of very technical seventies kind of very muso seventies pop. And it’s got the least production of any record we’ve done. It’s got the most complex musicality so it’s a mixture of those two things.

Are you playing it live at all?

TW: Yeah you know we’re playing it live…

For the benefit of my dear listener, tell dear listener where he can listen to you live.

TW: This coming Monday (17th June) at The Green Door Store in Brighton, Bristol the next day, The Louisiana and then the 19th up in London we’re doing an instore at Rough Trade East.

Brilliant, excellent. There’s a new guitarist, sadly Andrew Mitchell, just for geography because he’s up in the North of Scotland, we’re down on the South Coast of England; Clanger has taken over the guitar. Clanger how do you feel?

C: I don’t do interviews.

Yes you do – I’ll jump up and down on you…

C: OK. I feel good.

You just can’t shut him up. If I could get a word in edgeways. Now we should go from the taciturn to the melifluous, this is Alex White. New album, what do you think of it?

AW: I adore it actually, as it goes. I think it’s fantastic, I’m very proud of it. I’m happy to say that.

Excellent. What for you is your favourite track?

AW: My favourite track, I guess probably Idiots, the title track, ‘cos it’s a very personal song from Tom and I support every notion in it and I also feel like it’s one of the most collaborative on the record. Some of them Tom just brought in and we played them and others we actually made together and that is one of those. So I think that’s a genuinely collaborative effort.

Brilliant, fantastic. Did you self-produce it?

AW: It’s actually produced by Chris Hughes who’s the drummer in Adam And The Ants and a guy called Mark Frith who’s his wingman. They’re an amazing team. It’s sort of self-produced and produced with them but really the production credit should be with them, they did the record.

Brilliant, thank you very much Electric Soft Parade, welcome back, all the best for the new album, thanks for talking to me. Monday at The Green Door Store it is.

The Electric Soft Parade – Summertime In My Heart

Taken from the LP, “IDIOTS”, out June 17th. PRE ORDER: Helium | iTunes | Amazon | Live Dates

IDIOTS Album Reviews News from Official Mailout (sign up here) Here’s the new video for the second single from our imminent fourth long-player, “IDIOTS”. The title of the track refers to an emotional sense of summertime, rather than the Great British one, or lack of… It’s basically about that first flush of love, when just holding someone’s hand makes you feel like you’re walking on air. We recorded it during a rare heatwave, last summer, out in the West Country. So it’s hopefully imbued with as much unselfconscious optimism as humanly possible. We took dips in the studio pool and walked around the gardens strumming a guitar. Sunny vibes all round. This summer feels good right now and we live in hope that it will continue! The album is out on June 17th. We’ll be gigging throughout the summer playing select shows and festival slots. Hope to see you very soon. Love, Thomas and Alex White / ESP

I gotta say that it often feels
There’s someone watching over me
I don’t pray and I certainly don’t preach
Maybe it’s just wishful thinking
You gotta take the rough with the smooth
If you’re prepared to tell your own truth
It certainly don’t make me look cool
And maybe it’s just all this drinking

But when I look in your eyes
Suddenly it’s summertime in my heart

I took the first bus into town
And simply threw myself around
It wasn’t big and it certainly weren’t sound
But my did I feel free and easy
And in a while I found my feet
A million miles away from me
There all along but I just couldn’t see…
I just needed TLC

But when I look in your eyes
Suddenly it’s summertime in my heart
And when I hold your hand
Suddenly it’s summertime in my heart

Bless you with all my heart, my soul, my love
I give you it all