An interesting snapshot on happenings at the time. I translated these back then to find out more about the band. Reading them back now, they’re probably more enjoyable than the British press. The one thing that stands out, is how down to earth they were at the height of their fame.
French Interview at Route Du Rock: perso.wanadoo.fr/pop-access/pages/international/esp/interview.htm
This summer (2002) The Electric Soft Parade was present at the festival of Route Du Rock but the interview was not able to be carried out on the spot, it was done by the intermediary of the Net. Tom from Electric Soft Parade answered our questions thus.
1. When one speaks about the Electric Soft Parade, one of the initial reactions, is of saying that the group is young. You have enough of these reactions?
They think that we are naive or inexperienced compared with other older groups… the fact of being young does not mean that you are a bad musician.
2. Can you tell us about the album cover? Where does the idea come from.
The cover comes from a photograph in a library. It’s a photograph of staircase in England which we saw in this library. Originally black and white but we decided to colour it in orange. We wanted to keep at that time a kind of mystery around the group, we did not want that our faces appeared on the cover.
3. What are your influences?
When we were young, we listened to everything that came in the house: Elvis Presley, Beatles, Eric Satie, Shostakovitch, all that our parents had.
4. Are you already thinking about the second album? With the pressure after the success of the first?
There is no pressure since we already started to work on the second album and we know that it will be even stronger than the first. We already recorded demos of 10 songs and we are in the studio to work even more on the album.
5. What do you think of the current arrival of groups like The Strokes, or Black Rebel Motorcycle Club?
Each one of these groups are good but they are not it for me. I think that there are better groups about which one does not speak of too much. For example, Goldrush or the 80’s Matchbox B-Line Disaster.
6. Which are your projects after the series of festivals of this summer? (2002)
This autumn, we will do a tour of the English universities and we’ll spend much time in the studio for the new album.
7. What is your attitude with respect to your fans during and after each concert?
It is cool to meet the fans when they come to the concerts. It is good to have an idea of how you sounded while discussing with people after the concert. It is as brilliant to meet new people you do not know, and to have made new friends, to leave with people etc.
8. I think the interviewer asks what he thinks of the French people.
The French are really cool with us. They are honest and very respectful… They are adorable when we play in France.
9. Electric Soft Parade figure in the Guiness Book for the video clip filmed most quickly. Would you like to talk to us about it?
We were involved in a project with Microsoft Windows XP… We made this video, on top of HMV in Oxford Street in London. It was filmed, published by using Windows XP and then put online on the Net in record time. The people from the Guiness Book were present to check everything and voilà!! It will be in the next edition!!!
10. The interviewer asks about The Doors.
I am not really a fan of the Doors, in spite of our name… But I saw Wire playing recently, they are a group which was reformed… In theory, I encourage the reformations.
11. Which question would you like to be asked? And that which you’ve heard enough of?
We would like that one asks us for details on our music, instruments, methods of recording, etc. But the majority of people do not ask this type of question. They want to know what happens on tour with the group. The worse question at the moment, was: ‘What’s Alex’s most annoying habit on the tour bus?’. I never have anything amusing to say…
12. Which song would you have liked to write? And that you would have hated to make?
I would have adored to write “Marquee Moon” by Television. I am happy not to have written “I want to know what love is” by Foreigner.
Interviewer: Let us await the next album impatiently!!!
German Interview at Haldern: webmag.de/junges-berlin/?8243
In April Tom (18) and Alex (20) White published their debut album “Holes in The Wall” (on BMG) and did not only receive praise from the British music press. Colleagues such as Radiohead appeared enthusiastic for the work. “Holes In The Wall” is one of the best debuts of the year, a great Pop album, also nominated for the Mercury Music Prize. They played the summer Festivals, including the Haldern Open Air at the Niederrhein. Here we met for the interview.
Mono: How does one feel, when the “New Music Express” calls one the band, which redefined British guitar music?
Tom: That is already a little strange and also not completely correct. But it is beautiful to get as much respect. The fact that we were nominated for the Mercury Music Prize is better still, because it shows that the record industry recognises what we’ve done. That is more important, than something the NME writes.
Alex: The NME changes its opinion also rather fast. One month you can be their favourite, and the next month you are copied.
We don’t really worry about what’s in the press… If our concerts go well or badly, we notice that and don’t need anybody to tell us. It is beautiful, if the people like you, but one should not make oneself dependent on it, because then it becomes dangerous.
Mono: Tom, you wrote most of the songs on your album, only one song is by you both together. Do you write the songs alone.
Tom: Songwriting is for us somewhat very personal. One of us writes a piece, then we bring it in together. Even for the song, which we wrote together, we wrote a part for everyone alone and joined them then. We never simply gejammt (jammed?) and developed a song. However I would gladly try that once.
Mono: Everyone’s surprised at your age?
Alex: It is clear that people are surprised. But we’ve made music since 13 or 14 years.
Mono: You played support for The Who and Ian Brown. They are also heroes or idols for you?
Alex: Yes, definitely. It is strange, if you meet such people. We didn’t really become acquainted with The Who, we played the concert, but with Ian Brown we have a very nice relationship. He is simply Ian to us… It was also exactly the same with Martin Carr of the Boo Radleys. We are both large Boo Radleys fans, and when we met him, it was great, but they are also only completely normal people. You learn that these people are simply only normal people, and no large rock star, which knows an answer to everything.
Mono: What is your next goal? The Mercury Music Prize?
Tom: I do not know whether it would be so good for us.
Alex: It is not so important to us to win prizes.
Tom: It would be simply very beautiful to make a few good records… It would be beautiful to have made a few good things and be respected for it.
French Interview: rockzeweb.free.fr/interviews2.php?id=16
Nscrovax: What did you think of the festival “T In The Park” (Rock’n’roll Ze Web had sent a special correspondent there)
Alex: The festival was very good. We never played as well and the public was fantastic. I remember the journey through the Scottish mountains…
N: Which are your sources of inspiration?
A: We are not really influenced in our life, but musically, it is the opposite, anything can have a great influence: a painting, a color, a film style… can inspire a song for us. We take as a starting point all that we see, all that we hear and all that we read.
N: Which are your preferred groups?
A: We listen to as much music that we can and have really very varied tastes. Our preferred groups at this moment are Queens Of The Stone Age, St Etienne, The Boo Radleys…
N: With what would you compare “Holes In The Wall”?
A: It is a difficult question. Tom likes the paintings of Joseph Albers, especially an abstract painting representing a yellow square.
N: Your preferred songs on HITW?
A: Start Again, It’s Wasting Me Away, Red Balloon For Me.
N: What do you think of the current rock’n’roll revival with groups like The Strokes, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club…?
A: How long will it last? It can be a right momentary fashion. It is not like punk which came from “the underground”. This time the revival of Rock n Roll does not come from the houses of discs (record companies?) and marketing strategy.
N: Do you know French groups?
A: I like Phoenix but I do not know of the others.
N: And the French public, what do you think of it?
A: It is really good. We did a tour in France and played festivals and we really liked that. The public is cordial, friendly and takes part much during the concerts. People created sites on us to exchange their opinions and information. That touched us really much.
Spanish Interview at Benicassim
“Hello, I’m Tom”. The drummer and main composer of The Electric Soft Parade responds from Brighton. In the morning he answered questions from journalists from New Zealand, Korea, Lebanon, Emirates, Omán and Bahrein. In the evening they wait for another six journalists, in this occasion Swedish and Italian. Not bad for a boy who when “Nevermind” arrived at the stores was only seven years old. Forty minutes later, when we took leave, I feel like ten years older: it is difficult to believe that he has fulfilled his dream without reaching the legal age to buy a beer.
Interviewer talks about the NME issue “Nevermind The Strokes, here’s Guitar Britain” which featured ten bands, The Electric Soft Parade among them.
A difficult task: to recover the pride of British pop, hurt after the year of glory of The Strokes and The White Stripes. Hardly a month later, appeared the enthusiastic review of their debut. “The debut album of the year”
Tom: Yes, there’s people who say that, but in general they are giving us time so that we grow and develop. We are not hyped as powerful as The Strokes.
You like? Tom: Clear that yes, they are brilliant. But I would not like to be in his pellejo (place?) The objective of all bands must be to improve with each record. What are they going to make to surpass their last twelve months?
And what do you think of the supposed “new scene” of British rock?
Tom: In that article there were very different groups, from nu metal to punk pop. I see certain similarities with The Music or The Coral…
The debut of the year? To respond to the question the NME raised is not easy. What is clear: most outstanding is their promising future. Because if before twenty Tom White and Alex, his older brother, have been able to write a handful of songs like the ones contained on Holes In The Wall, what will they do in future? The Whites offer their particular vision of the history of nineties pop; Ash (There’s A Silence), Grandaddy (This Given Line), Radiohead (Holes In The Wall) or The Verve (It’s Wasting Me Away).
Everything on “Holes In The Wall” flows with as much naturalness that seems that they are comfortable much more with the music than with the words.
Tom: It’s true: the quality of my lyrics is very below my music. It is a pity, because there are many groups, like Pulp, that I listen almost only for the lyrics. I hope that when I have more experience, the words leave me with more naturalness. You know a thing? I have always thought that music is something more instinctive, does not matter that you are young and inexpert, but to make good lyrics you must have lived much.
He requests time to mature and to become a lyricist to the level of their music. And he is right: at the present time, most of their verses are simple… Although this is something that can also be attributed to records by much more experienced artists. In addition, many people thirtyish would kill to reach the good sense Tom White demonstrates.
How do you take to the relation with your fans? Because on the Internet I have found some followers quite obsessive…
Tom: Much respect to the people who are interested in our music, although I believe that to idealise somebody is wrong. For example, a girl gave a rarest poetry tape to me. It’s ridiculous situation that somebody dedicates as much time to a thing! In any case, I feel much more uncomfortable when they come up to me in a room of giant hotel, as happened to me in Norway. They do not realize I do not need all that shit to feel well.
How will you know that, in a given while, you begin to need those things to live?
Tom: It’s not anything bad to prevail and to have money: the problem arises when you are accustomed and you consider something normal. If one day I get up and I discover that I have constructed a tennis court in my dormitory (bedroom?) “Tom, something’s gone wrong”
And what will happen if all this finishes suddenly?
Tom: I hope that nothing. In addition, I believe that you could not be happy with too much money and too much fame: it is not a natural way to live life.
In Tom’s opinion, the applause of people, adds nothing to his life nor to his music… I share with him his rejection to follow your life based on what one assumes you must do. After forty years of rock, people think that it is essential to have an expensive car.
Where you see yourself within five years?
Tom: The dream of my life would be to produce a record for Guided By Voices or The Folk Implosion.
Respecting the great ones – Things have changed in the life of Tom. He remembers the concerts in which they supported two of his legends: Ian Brown and The Who.
Tom: With The Who it was a little miserly: they arrived, they played and they went without saluting to us. But Ian Brown was an enchantment. Why a so important man and with as much talent wants to speak with me. Still I am not customary to these situations. I always remain with idiot face. I am with Noel Gallagher saying to me “Tom, man, have listened to your album” (Laughter)
Tom: I do not support that people say (about music) “there is nothing good…” There are thousands of interesting groups to listen to!
For that reason, if something disturbs Tom it’s less and less time to search carefully in second hand record shops in search of some hidden jewel.
Tom: Now I can have all the records that I want and that causes it to lose part of its enchantment. Before I had to get the money, go to the store, decide what record to buy… To have everything you wish takes away a great part of the attractiveness of things.
In one interview you said that you introduced yourself to music with your fathers records: classical music and The Beatles or Bob Dylan…
Tom: Mainly listened to the Velvet, the Beach Boys…
But in a list of your favorite records, there is only one not from the nineties, “Marquee Moon” by Television…
Tom: It’s that the records of the nineties are most important for me: I listened to them at their moment, I went to the store the day they came out. The 1967 records do not sound so fresh… With exceptions: when I bought “Marquee Moon”, it seemed to me to be listening to a record recorded that same day. It is the best guitar record in history!
Groups such as The Strokes cause Television to sound novel. Listen to “Is This It” and “Marquee Moon”. Television sounds fresher than the music that’s made today. When I listened to “Veterans Of Disorder” by Royal Trux for the first time… For me it was something new, although it was inspired by records from the past.
Which is the last record that has produced that effect for you?
Tom: Without a doubt Trail Of The Dead. It’s the best record of the year until now.
And your favorite record of all time?
Tom: For example, the first by the Dandy Warhols. But also I would have to mention “Loveless” by My Bloody Valentine, “Darklands” by Jesus and Mary Chain… Wait a little while…
A voice urges Tom so that he hangs up the telephone: the editor of the Italian edition of “Ragazza” is on the other line. He haggles over two minutes more to him and he requests of me a few things: that I speak to him of the Festival of Benicàssim, in which they will play this summer, and describe the beaches of Almeria: “Some friends have been that way and desire has entered me to visit them”
Something more? Tom: If you want, I answer the question that I would like that you had asked me. In what group would I like to be if The Electric Soft Parade did not exist? In three: I Have It, Quasi or the support band of Elliott Smith.
I have left one last question: in a world in which there are groups as good as those that you have mentioned in this conversation, what contributes The Electric Soft Parade?
I do not like these type of questions because I do not have facility to answer them. But I will say to you that we have most importantly: good songs with good production. Now that music’s been for a little while so bad, I like to think that we can do something to fix the situation… But nobody thinks that we are going to save the world!
French Interview from Frequence Rock April 2002
You changed names at the beginning of your career. You thus passed from “The Soft Parade” to The Electric Soft Parade, in particular for legal reasons. Do you like your current name better?
There are many reasons which guided this change, in particular the fact that we started to be systematically compared to the Doors.
Famous musical magazine NME presented you as “the group which perhaps saved English pop”… How is it that you are not on very good terms with them? They however helped you to launch your career?
It was their choice to support us or not. It is obvious that the fact of having been under the spotlight of the press enabled us to have a better diffusion of our music. Notice, I like New Musical Express, but not because of the fact that we appear there sometimes (laughter)
At the time of the MIDEM 2002 in Cannes, did you take that like a single opportunity or rather like a commercial obligation?
No, it was brilliant! We met lots of cool people. It was really a superb experiment which enabled us to learn much from things.
Interviewer asks about Electric Soft Parade opening for The Who at the Royal Albert Hall
Yes, it was not bad… but we were not especially attached to the place as such.
Many groups however dream to play there…
Even if we had played with them in a pub, that would have been similar. The dream was The Who, not the Royal Albert Hall!
You maintain a close relationship to groups whose members are also young? I think for example of Strokes, JJ72, MUSE or Ash.
Not, not really. Our manager also deals with The Strokes but… they were never met.
You recently declared that “the music was not really related to specific texts (lyrics) but it reflected rather a pure emotion” Does that mean you do not attach importance to the texts (lyrics) or rather that you do not have a total message to transmit?
It is simply because we do not want to preach to people (interviewer mentions Bono) Exactly, we do not want to annoy people with political messages. With my direction, it is more intelligent to suggest emotions… The imagery is the most significant thing, it is sure.
Which question don’t you like that people ask you?
I hate that people ask me questions about the texts (lyrics) of my songs… Besides that, I like all the questions!
Thank you very much, Tom! Cheers man!