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.