Interview with Ian Parton
26 January 2009
Ian Parton kindly agreed to undertake an interview by e-mail for Titanic Fandalism. Here it is - many thanks to Ian for the following...
TF: So far, how has the writing/recording and sound of the new album differed from Proof of Youth?
IP: Recording hasn't begun yet I'm afraid - I'm in the hoarding stage at the minute which involves listening to thousands of records, singing into my dictaphone, picking the best bits, trying stuff out - it's a lot more work-intensive than just picking up a guitar and writing songs but that's part of the territory. I can tell you what I want it to sound like: the ideal in my head is make it more schizo, and more obviously cut and pastey - more jump cutty like you're switching channels on a radio - also it should be super-melodic but hopefully in an unobvious way. At the moment I have lots of stuff in the running to be included.
TF: Has the production remained ‘in-house‘?
IP: Yeah, we'll probably still do it with my bro, there are still no plans to get any big name producers in - I'd rather give up than work with Mark Ronson. I'd like to use reel to reel players more in the future and experiment with mixing hi-fi and lo-fi in the same song as I don't think anyone's really done that before - so one second the sound could be big and panoramic, the next it could recorded on a dictaphone.
TF: Are there any producers that you’d like to work with, and/or that you could envisage sharing common ground with in terms of the Go! Team sound?
IP: I don't know too much about producers - I
just have a paranoia about people making us more polished but even now with
the classic pressure to reinvent for album 3, I have no real desire to not be
lo-fi. I always hate it when people talk about maturing your sound - it's
bullshit. I think the trick is to be deliberate in what you do.
TF: Proof of Youth featured a fantastic array of vocal collaborations. Is that approach going to continue on the new album and, if so, who will you be working with?
IP: Probably - I like different voices rubbing shoulders and I'm always on the lookout for cheeky voices from around the world - I have my eye on a few people but haven't asked anyone yet so I don't wanna start naming names.
TF: Have you been surprised by any of the results of the recording so far? If so, can you elaborate please?
IP: Sorry, too early to say - I'm just at the "I'll probably use that idea" stage. I think the writing is 90% of the work.
TF: Have any of your travels to China, Korea, South America, Russia etc since Proof of Youth, influenced any aspects of the new album?
IP: I don't think so - most countries have something good musically about them - you know Gainsbourg From France, 70's Italian soundtracks, Bollywood, Krautrock - but it's stuff I've always liked - I've been buying new instruments like an omnichord, autoharp, toy pianos and I think that might have more of an impact on the record.
TF: When in 2009 is it likely to surface?
IP: Impossible to say - let's hope it is in 2009! - it takes a long time - this kind of music. With Proof of Youth we had a few songs which we'd been playing live but this 3rd album is a completely clean slate - there is less / no pressure on this record.
TF: Given the spectrum of music that you‘re into, I'm curious to know what the timeline was for discovering it all - how did it evolve? Is their one particular scene/band that kicked it all off and how/why did that lead into the rest?
IP: I had the usual route into indie music - Pixies, The Smiths, Dinosaur Junior, Spacemen 3, Loop, MBV - I was in a band in school called Riot Sister who I guess were quite advanced for our age as we'd detune guitars and stuff - I had a spell of being into easy listening but only really particular stuff - I was interested in the idea of mixing different types of music together way back in uni and would do feedback over the top of Tijuana trumpet loops. I've had an interest in the incidental music to films within Sesame Street for a while too - not the songs by big bird or any of that nonsense but the music to accompany little films about snow, the seasons, a trip to a peanut butter factory. Here are a few examples:
that feel you can't quite explain - which I think Boards of Canada aspire
to. I guess the basic idea was to mix this cuteness with noise.
TF: With regard to samples, does there have to be a love of the original track before you would consider sampling from it, or is it purely the sample - or sound of the sample - that has to be right, no matter where it's from?
IP: No - often the complete song is a shocker - in fact I prefer the idea of salvaging good bits from shit songs as its furthest away from the lazy Kanye West style of sampling. I think sampling can be an artform when you recontextualize the source material and I like the idea of changing the source with instruments over the top, pitching, stretching etc. I like the idea of confusing the listener so they can't tell what's a sample and what's original.
TF: Is there anyone you'd like to collaborate with - either individually or with The Go! Team?
IP: I'd love to collaborate with an amazing scratch dj and use it in a less obvious hip hop way - I think scratching is under used.
TF: What was the last great record you heard?
IP: The best song I heard last year was a completely forgotten 60's song by Betty and Karen called 'I'm Not Satisfied' - I'm thinking of doing a cover of it. I recently found another nice theme to a schools programme called 'Take Another Look'.
TF: You've worked in
documentary/film making in the past - is that something you hanker to return
IP: I wouldn't say a hankering but I will probably have to return to it cos nobody wants to see an old man in a band - I do have an interest in well-made documentaries (I worked on some trash) and they still do exist - I don't know for how much longer though.
TF: Do you see any comparisons between making music and documentaries?
IP: There is definitely a parallel between editing and making this kind of music - when you put 2 different things next to each other - sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.
TF: Is soundtrack work something that you've considered/been offered or would like to do?
IP: I'm open to the idea - I was asked to write a song for the film 'Speed Racer' earlier this year but I didn't bother as it looked like a lousy film and I knew that whatever I did it wouldn't be right. I think I've approved about 3 Go! Team songs on different films - I've never seen the finished thing. There's a new film starring Ellen Page (from Juno) called Whip it - set around roller derbies - they asked to use a song the other day.
TF: Any plans for further Go! Team documentaries or other film/DVD related projects?
IP: No major plans - Sam in the band is always filming stuff on a camcorder so some of that stuff might crop up one day and I've got lots of new Super 8 stuff that's pretty nice - it would be nice to make a video for every song on an album and release a companion DVD - but that's expensive.
SONGS FOR SURVIVAL
TF: The Go! Team recently contributed 'Templates From Home' to
the Songs For Survival compilation. I read in a few places that you were a
big fan of the Tribe documentary series - how did your involvement with the
project come about and is there any further collaboration, in any form,
planned with Bruce Parry?
IP: They approached a lot of bands for the project - I listened to the field recordings from the show and there was one bit I thought I could use plus I was a fan of the show so I gave it a shot. I did actually get to meet Bruce a few months back when we interviewed on the Radio 4 Today programme and he is a nice bloke - exactly as he is on Tribe.
TF: Do you know if the Babongo people got to hear any of the tracks that used their samples and what their response was?
IP: I don't think they have - I was wondering about that. They're pretty hard to reach but I'd love to hear their thoughts.
TF: Did working on the track influence anything about/on the new album?
IP: I've bought a Kalimba recently - which is an African thumb piano - and I like the sound of that so I figure that sound will crop up a bit on new stuff (I did a Papercuts remix recently which also featured it) - plus coincidentally I've become interested in African funk and the idea of interweaving melodies like Steve Reich which have an African feel - but you've gotta make sure you don't become too Damon Albarn about it.
TF: What was it about Kate Ferrier’s and Ceri Amphlett’s artwork that you connected with The Go! Team’s music? How did you come across their work?
IP: Ceri was an illustrator friend, Kate Ferrier's work was in a Brighton university degree show and I figured her collage style could work.
TF: Have any other artists caught your attention recently?
IP: I'm always on the look out
and have recently been looking at a graphic design website
they have lots of vintage graphic design stuff that's right up my street. I might have a go at doing the next artwork as
I'm a bit of a frustrated
graphic designer and then I've got no one else to blame. I hoard old books
and magazines with an eye to artwork.
TF: Yokoland’s sleeve and James Slater’s video for Grip Like A Vice were very different in look and feel from the rest of the Proof Of Youth era artwork/videos as well as earlier releases. Was any further work intended with either party at the time or did you see them as one-offs?
IP: I wanted Yokoland to work on the album artwork but it didn't work out - we've worked with James from Goodtimes on 3 videos now (Ladyflash, Grip and Marcie) and he's one of the few people that gets it - its very handmade and hand drawn rather than computery. Bob Jaroc - who does our onstage visuals - is another person I feel speaks the same language. He probably loves Super 8 even more than me.
TF: The slogans inside the Thunder, Lightning, Strike sleeve reminded me of the Situationist slogans of the 60s which McLaren/Westwood adopted/adapted in the 70s. Was either an influence?
IP: Not them in particular -
I think riot grrl
fanzines are more of an influence - particularly the inside of Huggy Bear
sleeves. I love that scratchy Xerox look. I keep books full of slogans and
phrases dating back to 1990 that I usually raid for song titles and lyrics.
TF: As a final thought, please could you leave us with a new slogan?
IP: A bell ain't a bell until you ring it!