Electric Soft Parade: Interviews 2007

No Need To Be Downhearted era interviews with quotes from each, click links to read in full (if available) The Radio Shows also have links to the audio.

In alphabetical order – radio + podcasts in bold: American Songwriter, The Argus, Artist Direct, Base Ad, BBC 6 Music’s Marc Riley, Bristol Evening Post, Click Music, Dermot O’Leary from SXSW 2007, Herohill, Is This Music, Kontrast Radio, Kruger Mag, Lick Online, Music News, Music Snobbery, Perfect Porridge, Pick Up Mag, PlugInMusic, Radio 2’s Janice Long, Revolt Media, Rock Sellout, Round Table, Sound Check, Sound Generator, Tenement Blog, The Fly, The Line Of Best Fit, The Sun, The Sun Podcast, The Times Podcast, Tom Robinson, Under The Radar, XFM Xposure, XFM Scotland plus links to a few overseas interviews.

American Songwriter May 2007.

No Need To Be Downhearted was recorded by the brothers in fragments, starting with bedroom demos that were allowed to breathe – given proper time in the oven, leaving little chance for any tune to come out half-baked. They dedicated quite a bit of time in the album’s production, time to reign in wandering melodies and stray synths. No one tied their hands up this time around when it came to learning ProTools or fiddling with a few bars of a song for hours. The result appears to be another confident step forward, and their first full-length to hit U.S. shelves.

No Need To Be Downhearted arms with schizophrenic orchestration and sticky choruses on takes like If That’s The Case, Then I Don’t Know and Cold World. And with a bobbing tempo round like Misunderstanding, Tom attempts to bring a touch of mystery and sincerity to the pop song template. The album relays a sense of just that: a daydream that lingers for good reason, leaves a footprint of joy, a call to a bit of lightheaded revelry.

The Argus November 2007.

The tour features the new album played completely in sequence, against a backdrop of projections. Thomas says: “I made the projections by taking some old footage and edited it on my laptop to work alongside the album. We replaced the audio with a click track so our drummer Damo Waters is in sync with the screen. The effect is that the band is magically in sync with the visuals”

For the final part of the gig the band approached their fans on their website to ask for favourite tracks from the back catalogue, resulting in an overwhelming demand for early B-side Broadcast (Listen Here) They carefully chose their support acts for this tour from Brighton favourites, including Dear Britch featuring singer Stuart Flynn, who will be joining the band onstage for part of the show.

“Some people into us are into radio-friendly stuff like Keane and Coldplay. We feel it’s our responsibility to introduce people to other stuff”

Artist Direct April 2007.

TW: The idea that a piece of music can take you on a journey for a few minutes, take you out of the everyday and transport you somewhere – that’s what I’ve always wanted to do with our songs. I think there’s massive parallels with music and art, too – the way a painting has a certain initial impact, then depending on your personal reaction to it, those feelings grow or subside. It’s a big cliche, but everything I hear or see can influence me, totally. I’m not the kind of person to switch off the radio if I hear something I don’t necessarily like – even if I hate something, I’ll still be able to find what it is that other people like about it.

Base Ad May 2007.

“We’re definitely getting better as a live band. Until now we’ve been focusing on studio albums but the focus has turned round a bit now and we’re really enjoying playing live all over the UK. The first record was a bit overproduced, the second record was a bit rough and under produced, but I think the new one is just a perfect mix of the two, and hopefully people will agree it’s the strongest record we’ve done”

When asked about success, White surprisingly points out that it’s something they’d love to get on a mainstream level, but says it’s impossibly hard to do. “There are the record buying public, but then there are the rest of the public who just don’t give a f*** about music and don’t buy music, and there are maybe only about 50 songs every year that make it into the public consciousness, and we’d love to be a part of that. The sound of the new album isn’t geared around getting into the charts but we were engineering it ourselves and we just wanted to make a great record”

BBC 6 Music’s Marc Riley – April 2007

The interview transcript is missing – listen to the audio here: ESP Live Audio 2007 (scroll down)

Bristol Evening Post Interview with Alex (scans) Part 1Part 2Part 3Photo

Electric Soft Parade headlined Truck Festival back in 2002 at the height of their major label success and now Truck were able to repay the favour. “All credit to Truck records, they said we’ll help you out, we’ll do an EP or something”.

On the album: “It’s been good to have this record out finally, it’s been about 4 years in the making. It’s an absolute pleasure to have made a record on our own, it’s a massive achievement”. This DIY approach follows in the footsteps of one of the biggest bands in the UK. “When you look at bands like the Arctic Monkeys, they haven’t spent loads of money doing it, they haven’t kow-towed to some A+R guy’s vision of what the band should be, and it ends up being this watered down neutered version of what it once was. Arctic Monkeys are one of the most full-on messy-sounding groups and they’re top of the charts. They’re not exactly trying to do a Westlife song, are they?”

The Arctic Monkeys success has been a huge inspiration. “It’s a pleasure to see bands doing that and it gives you the impetus to do it and just go, we can do this ourselves, and just get on with it”

Click Music July 2007.

Alex on No Need To Be Downhearted: “A lot of the tunes we had kicking around for a bit. Songwriting’s a weird one – I don’t know how it’s done! It’s kind of sappy, but Bob Dylan said all the songs that will ever be written are ‘up there’ somewhere, and they just fall down on you. I do get that feeling a bit – I’ve never really sat down and gone “I’m writing this song, it’s about this, and I’m making this statement”

On producing the album themselves: “I guess it was challenging, but it was more liberating really, as it was something we always wanted to do, but were never allowed to. If you’re in some massive, expensive studio with some big label budget, they don’t trust anyone! They’ll get someone they know in to do it. It was also out of necessity as we couldn’t afford to pay some guy to come and produce it. It happened quite naturally really. It was up and down though, as one day you’re like “oh this is brilliant, it’s a piece of piss”, then you’re slaving over a computer crying “how does this work, I’ve never been trained!” But then you just learn, like speaking a language, where you can have all the lessons you want, but if you go and just live, say, in China, and just get involved, you just pick it up”

“The guy who produced our first album, Chris Hughes, was extremely intelligent, and knowledgeable about music, and had amazing things to say – we learnt loads from him. He had amazing ideas we would never have come up with, and you have to balance it out, and think about it like that. It’s more the ‘suit’ guy telling you what to do. A lot of people who work behind desks in the music industry, at a label, have tried being in a band, and have given up, or failed… they basically wanna get a look-in again and get involved. I don’t enjoy being told what to do by people like that, it pisses me off frankly!”

On playing Vancouver: “I’d never been to Canada, and it’s such a pleasure to get so far away from where you’re from, where you wrote your tunes, where you thought it means something to people, and then to get to Vancouver and you play to a full venue, and people are saying they’ve waited five years to see us. It was amazing – mental to see people singing along”

On BMG not releasing them in the USA: “It’s still a mystery to me! You’d think a label like BMG, with their influence and power, would be able to chuck a couple of records out across the States, but I guess they couldn’t. We were supposed to go and tour there, and they pulled it at the last minute – literally with a couple of days notice. It ain’t my job to sell records, that’s their f****** job, and they couldn’t do it – or didn’t want to. We were on a label that put our records out in Japan, Australia, everywhere inbetween, but not America”

Dermot O’Leary’s show from SXSW March 2007.

Dermot: So, tell me the story, because you literally just got here?

Tom: If I tell you the story, I’ll be really rude about Chicago.

Dermot: Try and tell me the story without being rude about Chicago.

Tom: We basically missed our connecting flight. Y’know, England-Chicago, Chicago-Austin. Missed our connecting flight, so we got a night in Chicago.

Dermot: Which you should be quite excited about right? Tom: Yeah it was alright. Alex: It was pretty good. Tom: Until I had the Lobster Bisque. The thought of it…

Alex: He puked on the plane and all the staff were really amazing actually on the United flight, give them a shout out. They were brilliant. They were like, would you like us to make an emergency landing? I was like, he’s only been sick.

Dermot: That’s amazing. Tom: I think they would’ve, if I’d kicked off.

Alex: I was quite tempted, I’d quite like to order a plane to land.

Herohill March 2007.

HH:: The (album) sound turned out nice. I don’t think you could tell it was made on a shoe string. The sound is pretty tight. But after listening, I have to ask you about the whole writing process? I mean, you go from the dance floor on If That’s The Case to an almost Simon Garfunkel sound on Shore Song. And then it jumps into a radio, summer anthem on Misunderstanding. How do you decide what is making the record?

TW:: That’s the vibe we wanted. Every song to be completely unique. We wanted every structure to be different. We wanted to experiment with different time signatures, but not get too crazy. We weren’t trying for any crazy prog shit, we just wanted to attract a musical ear. So you can listen again and again.

HH:: Well, like I said, it’s all over the place, but it all fits together.

TW:: That’s our plan. We want to bring different backgrounds together. Old folk, young folk, hip hop, f****** rock. We wanted it to be diverse, but not too extreme. Like you look at a band like, Deerhoof. You totally have to respect what they are doing, but man, sometimes you have to be a critic to appreciate it. We want to find a place on the radio, connect on a simpler level. We want to be able to communicate with people, and then have them appreciate it on a different level later on.

Is This Music December 2007.

A brand-new visual effects backdrop accompanied the set at Glasgow King Tut’s: It was the culmination of a four year labour of love. TW: Some of the footage for those visuals was filmed back in 2002 when we first started touring. I was picking up raw footage for about four years and the last year has been a process of chopping things-up and trying things out.

Tonight was the first time they’ve played latest album in its entirety. TW: Sometimes I’ll get really into an album, but most of the time when you see a band they have their basic setlist with certain songs in certain places. Obviously you don’t want every band to always play the whole record but if you chose the right time and the right album then it really works as a set.

Producing the record themselves was challenging, but Alex points out that their lack of experience didn’t limit their ambition: “The record is DIY but it’s trying to sound expansive and cinematic. It’s like punk – people associate that with three-chord guitar bands like the Ramones but it’s an attitude as well”

Kontrastradio May 2007.

You could fall in love with me at first sight because… I sing.

And you would hate me for… being better at it than you.

The first thing I remember about music… hearing Elton John in the back of our family car and asking my parents why he was singing in a weird voice (it was his cover of “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds” where he does a John Lennon impression!)

For our next album I would love to… use more brass. It suits our sound.

If I can’t make a living as a musician… I won’t make a living at all.

Kruger Magazine September 2007.

Being brothers can be a difficult business at times, but then again sometimes it just happens to be a dream partnership. For The Electric Soft Parade brothers it’s the latter, combining the collective inspiration from a mixed parental record collection – Roxy Music, Shostakovich, Satie, James Taylor, Cat Stevens… and “God knows what else”, they have created a musical force which is seemingly unstoppable.

On BMG: “We were dropped, but we were about to f*** it off anyway. They were people with no interest in making progressive music whatsoever, and that is all I am interested in – moving forward”

Having just come back from a tour of Canada they reflect; “They treated us so, so well. It’s a beautiful country and has extremely intelligent people. We were lucky enough to be traveling in an RV, basically a caravan, and some of the views out the window were phenomenal. We also got to check out Niagara Falls, which was pretty spectacular”

ESP talk us through the new music they think is particularly important at the moment… “Me and Alex strongly feel that Field Music are truly one of the great English groups of all time. Tones Of Town is the best pop record of the year so far and probably the century. They are an incomprehensibly genius band. Why they weren’t nominated for the Mercury Music ‘Prize’ is a farce. There is nothing out there that even gets close to what they have achieved with that record”

Lick Online (scroll down) May 2007.

A: It’s funny because we listen to lots of American music and then you get out there and people who live there are like, “You’re great!” It’s like, f****** hell… that’s amazing.

T: And we were basically a new band out there because we never got to go over for our first two records. Our first label never got us out there. The Human Body EP was the first thing we put out in America properly and then this new record.

T: We had never been in the position where a label had signed us because they had genuinely liked what we did, and didn’t want to f*** with it and just wanted to release it… which was amazing.

Music News July 2007.

Thomas White is not, shall we say, on the cutting edge. He doesn’t own an iPod and prefers to lug a rucksack of CDs around with him on tour. He craves the fresh sea air of his hometown over London’s choking smog, and confesses to feeling like a “sore thumb” next to other artists. He bristles at the suggestion that he is out of touch. “Well, no, I’m in touch with the music I’m in touch with” (He’s eagerly awaiting the new Robert Wyatt album, if you must know) “But I guess if you don’t read the NME for six months you’re just out of the loop. I’m creating my own loop”

He also doesn’t have a very positive view of the music industry. Only 22, he’s already nursing the kind of bitter resentment that would do Morrissey proud. There is an endearing neediness about White that chimes with the yearning earnestness of the band’s songcraft. They would rather have a supportive hug than a large cheque.

White admits to feeling adrift among the current crop of indie bands. “I’ve never really felt musically part of any scene”. It’s perhaps a measure of ESP’s isolation that they were the only musicians of their age group to take part in a charity tribute night for Billy MacKenzie, the mercurial frontman of cult ’80s post-punk band The Associates, who committed suicide in 1997.

In a line-up largely comprised of MacKenzie’s contemporaries, including members of British Electric Foundation, Heaven 17 and Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, Electric Soft Parade performed a cover of MacKenzie’s solo torch song ‘Blue It Is’, which is the B-side to their new single (watch here)

“None of the young bands were up for doing it. I just wanted to show his family that he’s still having some kind of impact. I’ve only really known the Associates’ stuff for a year or two. Then I got into Billy MacKenzie’s solo stuff. I wanted to represent the young vanguard”

Unfortunately, the older generation didn’t take too kindly to the intrusion of these impudent upstarts, and much backstage bitchiness ensued. “We turned up and just got s*** off everyone. We were the only band who didn’t know him when he was alive, so everyone was just like, I knew him more than you!”

There is something haplessly tragicomic about a band who can’t seem to find acceptance anywhere, even when they are doing a good turn.

Music Snobbery April 2007.

We got some things wrong in the past, so on this album we got it right. We sounded too conscious of what we were doing. We wanted to sound a certain way. This one we kind of just let it out naturally. We started (recording) in the beginning of 2006, just a week at a time. Misunderstanding was written in 2003, so it just evolved until something real.

I think an album should be a lot of things. It should really take you on a journey. I didn’t want to start (the album) off with a rock track. I wanted to show that there are different sides to this band.

It’s hard to make rock music and have some space in there. We try to make it clean so that your ears can get right in the middle of the mix. We never really nailed those types of tracks before so I’m glad we got it right on this one.

It was up to us to make songs that could be played on the radio. Any band can say that they can make their own record, but to make a record that stands up against the Bloc Partys of the world, that to me is a major achievement.

Perfect Porridge (scroll down) March 2007.

One of our favorite parts about ESP is the studio production that ties together all of your songs. For example, we love the instrumental Floydian soundscapes on Misunderstanding. You guys aren’t afraid to be experimental. How does that make you stand out from other rock groups these days?

Thomas: Personally, the idea is to make a record that first, will play on the radio. You want a song people can get into their heads easily, but also if you want to dissect the track and take two or three listens you can. So you make a pop record you can basically play for anyone, but someone else gets right to the drum sounds or to the guitar or arrangement and is like, wow.

In the UK we’re kind of old news, been round the block a few times. In the States we’re still starting out, and I don’t know if we were mature enough for the States before. The new album is the best stuff we’ve ever done, and it’s cool for it to be the first thing we put out here.

Pick Up Magazine (interview scan)

TW: “I think there’s a honeymoon period between bands and the press during their first year, where they get lauded and loved. If I could do it all again, I wouldn’t do a single interview, I’d have a complete media blackout for the first five years of a band’s career”

“You’re not thinking about the agenda of some label. Maybe that’s short sighted. You’re constantly nurtured into a rock n roll band and expected to behave like a rock and roll idiot but the minute you step outside these lines all hell breaks loose and it’s f****** game over”

The boys went out to the studio for weeks at a time and just used the gear that was there. TW: “We both learned how to use Pro Tools in the first week and then away we went. We just made a f****** record”

There’s some real gems here like Misunderstanding, ESP’s most bona-fide potential radio hit to date, a mix of Weezer romance that oozes melody. Followed by the lonely and masterful arrangement of Secrets, it’s clear the Whites have come of age.

TW: “Mark Frith, who produced our first record, came to our gig the other week and said all you need to make a good record is a Pro Tools rig, a few good mics and a dead room. And that was literally all we had for this. We just compressed everything a bit, fed it into Pro Tools, and that’s the record. If only we’d been allowed to do that before”

PlugInMusic April 2007.

A man came to me in a dream. He was riding a Flaming Pie. He said “It shall be Soft Parade with an Electric”

In my opinion No Need To Be Downhearted is our most cohesive, accomplished work to date. I think we’ve achieved what we set out to achieve on our first two records: in a time when so much music patronizes the listener, we wanted to make a massive pop record that still challenged the listener at every opportunity.

Radio 2’s Janice Long July 2007.

Janice: Yes! That’s the new single from Electric Soft Parade, Misunderstanding, which is from the album, No Need To Be Downhearted. And that’s the oldest track on the album?

TW: Pretty much. Janice: Been around for a while? TW: Good few years. Janice: Various productions of it yeah. TW: It kind of evolved.

Alex: I read a thing. It was Leonard Cohen in Word magazine going on about how you can’t force a song. Hallelujah took 5 years to become Hallelujah, and everyone going on about what an amazing song it is, it’s so simple and everything but actually, it took him that long just to get round to being able to present it, just kinda letting it happen and not forcing it.

Janice: It’s Cold World, and it’s Electric Soft Parade, who are playing live. No Need To Be Downloaded… No Need To Be Downhearted.

Alex: We’re changing it right now. TW: Don’t need to download it, just buy it.

TW on supporting The Twang: They just treated us well, it was the first time a band’s ever personally kind of gone through the agent and gone “we want this band to come on tour with us” and I guess it was the first chance they’d had to choose the support and do that size tour. And we’d actually seen a bunch of months ago on their first NME piece, there’d been a shot of them in one of the bands bedroom or something and there was a little Holes In The Wall advert on their bedroom wall. Infact they turned up in our dressing room on the first night and started singing our tunes at us. It was pretty scary really.

Revolt Media April 2007.

What does ESP sound like, other than the much-used indie-rock label?

Alex: “It’s hard to review yourself, but if you like pop music with a twist, ESP might appeal to you. We admire bands like Super Furry Animals, Guided by Voices, basically, bands who are not happy treading water, who want to push the boundaries, mix styles and influences, evolve, and who want to always be pushing and testing themselves. That is what we create with ESP – music that is at once out there and still pop”

Electric Soft Parade definitely has a diverse sound within the genre of indie-rock. This is reflected in the influences Alex cites, from “Nina Simone, Guided by Voices, MF Doom, anyone playing jazz in a dark bar, Chicago (especially Harry Truman), Field Music, Bernard Hermann, Actress Hands, Restlesslist, the Beatles, and The Blueprint by Jay-Z. Everything, I guess. Basically, music that challenges me”

ESP signed with BMG records, a major-label, after the critical success of their first record, Holes In The Wall, but was eventually dropped, as are most visionary bands. Alex responds to the issue with, “Ah, the age-old debate! Being on a major showed us how those people think and how they do business, which was invaluable. But as a band who loves auteurs and people who are looking to push the boundaries of music, we’ve always looked to indie labels for inspiration”

What keeps the guys from ESP grounded? Alex: “It’s the concept of music itself. You could have two guys who’ve never met, can’t speak the same language, know nothing about each other and have totally opposite lives and beliefs. Put them in a studio or on a stage, and they’ll make a sound together. The possibilities are endless – that is what keeps me motivated. Beyond any fad or passing trend, music is a way of uniting people and always will be”

Rock Sellout March 2007.

You’ve been a strong proponent for other Brighton-based acts like The Pipettes & Actress Hands. Do you feel it’s important to support your local music community?

TW: Of course. There was no-one there in Brighton to help us out when we started, so we’re damn well gonna give people a leg up if we have the chance.

Round Table July 2007.


Steve Lamacq: Tom White, I think you should start with this because you’re a Super Furries fan, are you not?

TW: They’re one of my favourite bands of all time. What can I say, they know what they’re doing.

Steve Lamacq: They share an appreciation of well appointed melody, but at the same time, very much like Electric Soft Parade, there’s always a bit of a twist, whether it’s in the lyric, or in the music.

TW: They’re just constantly inventive, Sean O’Hagan probably arranged the strings on this, I don’t know if he did but he’s done the last couple of records, he’s a total influence on us as well, The High Llamas. They know what they’re doing. Classic pop, they’re just nailing it every time. Every album, they’ve hit a standard since the beginning of their career. They can do no… Ten! Simple as that.

Sound Check April 2007.

The Electric Soft Parade was dropped after the 2003 record The American Adventure, which never actually came out in America. The band didn’t record again until The Human Body EP (2005) What took so long?

TW: Basically, no label would touch us. In England, if you get dropped, it’s not like a fresh start. People view it as though you’ve been tarred by that brush, so it was quite hard for us to get any gigs. We were finding it hard to see a way back into the industry, the public eye. But Truck Records offered to put out an EP. We recorded the EP in like a week or something, and they put it out and Better Looking Records heard it, and offered to put it out in the U.S. We knew we wanted to make a third record and by that time, the business side of it was sorted out and it was clear sailing. We got in the studio and did it cheap, just engineered it and produced it ourselves.

How old were you when you started playing together?

TW: I was 9 or 10 and he was 12 or something, playing at home. I was on guitar and he’d be on the piano, playing Elvis songs and Beatles songs. That evolved and we started playing with other dudes from our school. Then we started playing pubs and proper shows in Brighton when I was about 13. And let me add, being served at the bar when I was like 13 or 14. That’s just bad. When I was 16, we got signed. That was our first deal. It wasn’t like we started and we got signed straight away. We did a bunch of records just putting them out ourselves, printing up CD-Rs or whatever, doing like 100 copies and selling them at shows in Brighton. Then I wrote a bunch of songs for what would become the first ESP record in the UK.

Sound Generator July 2007.

Alex on the Brighton scene: It’s weird seeing bands around us going down a certain route… spending a recording budget on a tour bus for a few dates in the states while the Soft Parade/Brakes tour was literally just us, in a van, cramming in gigs. Everything we got then was positive, every bit of money was great because we didn’t spend any on the tour in the first place. These other bands… don’t seem to understand that when you spend that money it’s not yours to spend. You get to a point where you’ve got to sell half a million records just to get to zero so the label say ‘Right, that’s it, we’re dropping you’.

Alex on Downhearted: To get into this you can’t just fast forward to that – you’ve got to go with it and go on the journey of the record. Not that it’s a big, prog, epic thing, but there’s other elements to it, you know?

Tenement Blog September 2007.

“I can tell you now, Alex will be weed-poppered out of his little skull all weekend, and therefore won’t be fit to drive a shopping trolley, let alone a tour-bus filled with half of the Brighton and Hove contemporary music scene”

“Basically, if you get through a festival without having watched The Kooks or contracted dysentery, you’ve won… F*** 02 and f*** V. F*** ’em all. Apart from the God-awful line-ups blighting most modern festivals, you’ve now got to put up with garish Photoshop nonsense blasting you in the face all day while you try and work out what song your favourite band is playing from a mile away. Simple as this: no one gives a s*** who ‘made this festival happen’. Advertising and corporate sponsorship should have no visible place at any festival; a festival that allows this to happen has missed the point entirely”

“Our new LP is by far and away our best record yet – it just encapsulates and defines better what we tried (and failed) to do on our first two”

The Fly (interview scan)

At 22, you really shouldn’t be recanting tales of tours with Oasis and playing with Sparks on the Jonathan Ross show. “I just feel like we’ve grown up. I think with our older stuff we sounded a bit naive in hindsight. And now we know what we’re doing”

In latest album No Need To Be Downhearted you can certainly sense a sharpness of focus – an irrevocable impetus that courses throughout the entire record.

“We probably wouldn’t have been able to get away with what we’ve done on BMG. With the first two records we just got caught up in all that industry bullshit”

“I feel a lot closer to the process now. It’s like I’m getting to that point where you truly switch off your conscious brain and let your subconscious just flow… that’s what songwriting is!”

The Line Of Best Fit July 2007.

ESP was always a going concern. We’d been s*** out by the major label industry, and needed to pay the bills while we worked out a new Electric Soft Parade album and a label to put it out. We’ve actually played shows every year since 2001. People have s*** attention spans, and I guess unless you’ve got the Kooks marketing budget behind you, it doesn’t really register with the majority of the public – what can I say? Sucky industry.

On Downhearted: Personally I think it’s far more ‘upbeat’ and ‘sunny’, or whatever other meaningless, redundant terms hacks use to describe our music, than our second record. Influences varied from Shostakovich to Throbbing Gristle to RTX to Elliott Smith to MF Doom.

On US audiences: They’re certainly not as passively cynical about us. Something that has gotten wearing to a point over here. In America there’s very little room for post-modern bulls***, or whatever you want to call it. People like things on a very understandable level, and generally have no time for clever-clever trendy English bulls***, which is why I think we go down well over there.

The Sun April 2007.

Sun: How has the music industry changed since you started? TW: It’s changed a lot and you don’t need the big labels or thousands of pounds to plug a record to get on the radio. DJs have got a lot more freedom and people just pick up on songs whether it’s from MySpace or YouTube.

Sun: Why the album title No Need To Be Downhearted? TW: It came from a lyric from a Fall record, the first line of the Middle Class Revolt album. We just thought it was a good title for an album.

The Sun Podcast August 2007.

Sun: What were your influences when you were growing up then.

T: Elton John, Elvis, The Beatles, Sparks, Bowie and then Super Furry Animals, Royal Trux, RTX, Mission of Burma.

A: Oasis were a big thing, Blur and Oasis, that whole thing. I wasn’t really into that music when that all kicked off, when they had Roll With It and Country House. T: Saint Etienne.

Sun: So what camp were you? Were you Oasis or Blur?

A: Well this is the thing, we weren’t into it at all. I was into older music; The Beatles and Elvis and stuff like that and then that was all on the tv and I was like “I guess I’d better check this out”, kinda just got into both because I didn’t care either way. I didn’t have an allegiance; “I don’t care about stuff like that”

T: Both those singles are probably the worst singles both bands put out; Country House and Roll With It. Shocking.

The Times Podcast July 2007.

What kind of state of mind were you in with the recording of a lot of these songs.

T: Out of necessity more than anything we ended up having to engineer ourselves and learn how to use Pro Tools basically. The first week or so of studio time was us feeling our way around and working out how to plug mikes in, and how to mike up drums and stuff.

A: It was pretty uncluttered in terms of state of mind. When you’re on a major label, there’s a whole team of people you’re answerable to. They come down the studio and check it out and give their two-pence worth or their hundred grands worth. It was like we’re making the record not just on our own terms but on our own time, on our own money and everything. No-one was saying it needs to be done by this date or anything. It was up to us.

P: So this downscaling has rather suited you then.

T: It’s what we came from. The first record was pretty much all demoed in my bedroom just on 4 track, a lot of the finished versions that ended up on Holes In The Wall have elements of the demos in them and were built from that and put into Pro Tools and then added to. It’s how we’ve always worked but to keep it on that level and not to end up in a big studio… we did it in Oxfordshire and mixed it in a little place in Brighton called The Metway.

P: Apart from Dolphin Derby the rest of Brighton Pier is quite rubbish I think.

A: Just broken ghost trains and things. P: Broken Ghost Trains, that sounds like one of your songs. A: It is now, definitely. T: I think you could describe our career as a broken ghost train. In certain respects.

A: We played in our house since year dot. He’d be on a guitar, I’d be on the piano just singing Beatles tunes. I nicked Hunky Dory off my Dad and Abbey Road and a load of sevens he had for Twist & Shout and all the original seven inches.

P: I hope you’ve looked after them. A: I DJ’d with them actually. They’re in a record box. P: I can almost feel their value plummeting. A: They’re to be listened to, it’s not a museum piece yet. Give it a hundred years maybe.

Tom Robinson July 2007.

A: The Electric Soft Parade thing just kind of wound down naturally really, we got dropped and stuff…

TR: Let me stop you right there. You got dropped? Who dropped you, how? (disbelieving)

A: I’m not going to start naming names here but you know, when you’re on a label that has the sort of artists you’re alongside like Christina Aguilera and people like that, you’re a bit screwed if you’re not selling a lot of records.

TR: Big record companies, why do they do that thing? (astonished)

TR: Did you always know that you’d be in a band together?

TW: We kind of played exactly what we’re doing today, round the piano at home I’d have an electric guitar but no amp, just like this cheap Gibson copy thing, and we’d play Elvis tunes…

A: Before we knew what a band was we were playing in a band. It was basically working out Beatles songs. Got this 2 inch thick Beatles song book and just went through it, that’s how you learn music as far as I’m concerned.

Under The Radar July 2007.

UTR: Besides the recording techniques, which on the first album were more synthetic and on the second album analog, what other significant changes do you see in the latest album?

Tom White: The new record is as close as we could get to a middle point between the approaches we used on the first two. We reined in the experiments of the second, though hopefully not too much, whilst trying to achieve the slickness and the futurism of the first. I think we succeeded.

UTR: What do you think it is about the American music landscape at the moment that is more conducive to No Need To Be Downhearted being released here, considering it’s your first official full-length release stateside?

Tom White: Americans don’t seem to need to be told to like something. If they dig it, they’ll come right up to you and shout it in your face, whereas English folk seem far more driven by what some magazine might tell them to listen to.

XFM Xposure – July 2007 – XFM Scotland – May 2007

You can listen to the audio here: ESP Live Audio 2007

Overseas Interviews

Magic Magazine (French) Click for scan Spex.de August 2007 (German) Motor.de July 2007 (German)