Back in February, Brighton, UK-based sextet The Go! Team released Rolling Blackouts, their 3rd studio release since 2004. We recently exchanged some words with frontman Ian Parton. The band performs at Mezzanine on Wednesday.
You’ve been on tour since February — how’s it going so far? Are you excited to be on the road again?
Really good – its been pretty relentless. We went from the UK, to Europe to the US, then we’re gonna take on Australia and Japan. But it’s still the most fun you could have. Every day is a voyage into the unknown — looking around a new town in the daytime and thrashing at night time.
What are some artists or albums you were listening to during the writing and recording of Rolling Blackouts?
The kick off for this album was to listen to thousands and thousands of records. I did cast the net further with this record — we’re talking 60s psych, African funk, Bollywood, blaxploitation. One thing I wanted to do was to mix a kind of early hip hop street-cornery feel with a woozy Boards of Canada thing. Some songs like “Apollo Throwdown” or “Voice Yr Choice” have an outer space feel to me.
What was different about creating this album?
Quite a few things, I wanted it make it more driven by melody and songwriting rather than shouty girls. We used a massive community brass band for scoring out the music. I worked with more collaborators: Best Coast, Satomi from Deerhoof, Dominique Young Unique, an African gospel choir. I think generally it is more ambitious and wide-screen in its feel, and probably the most eclectic album we’ve done. It spans Ennio Morricone-esque gospel, groovy country, little radiophonics workshop interludes, noisy guitars, wall of sound girl groups, but i think it all sounds like the Go! Team, rather than 13 different groups. It was quite a natural thing, cause I feel like I’m always getting pulled in different directions by music and each day my favorite music is changing.
You have an oldies/60s sound on both “Secretary Song” and “Ready to Go Steady” — where do you think that influence comes from?
On “Ready To Go Steady” I was imagining it to be a kind of first-dance-at-the-prom song. I wish it would become something people would sing when they wanted to start dating someone but it probably won’t! I’m really interested in the classic pop song — not like having a hit, but something timeless and universal. I love the way that Motown has the ability to bring everyone together — me, you, my folks, your folks.
I can really imagine “Bust-Out Brigade” or “Apollo Throwdown” being the theme song for a pro sports teame, like they run out onto the field while it’s being played. What team would you want to have that song as theme? Did you ever play sports as a youngster?
I’m the least sporty person you could ever imagine — I ain’t no jock. The nearest I come is Frisbee. When I was in school, in games lessons I would run away from the ball, so I always think it’s quite funny when people associate The Go! Team with sports. I hear about people jogging to it or listening to it in the gym. Whenever I sampled cheerleaders I was imagining it as a more riot grrl/girl gang thing, rather than a sports thing. We thought about sponsoring a speedway team once — The Go! Team Cobras or something. That would be pretty cool.
How was it working with Bethany Cosentino from Best Coast?
I had written the song “Buy Nothing Day,” and it had a Californian girl group kinda feel. I discovered Best Coast on MySpace and loved her voice — this was about December 2009, so before all the Best Coast hype. The song has more of a jangly girl group feel than anything else we’ve done. It’s all crashing waves, Pacific Coast Highway, and flip-down shades. We never really met in person; it was a trans-Atlantic email-based thang.
Can you tell me a bit about the genesis of “Lazy Poltergeist” — a pretty uncharacteristically mellow tune on a gloriously schizophrenic album.
It’s a bit of an homage to a song called “Providence” on the Sonic Youth album Daydream Nation. I was imaging this song as if it was a haunted piano playing itself. I love the spooky out-of-tune sound. It has a detuned radio mixed underneath too and it was recorded onto a cassette tape. This song is important because it creates more dynamics and space in the album. I wanted this album to have more breathing space than the last two.
Name a song you’ve been obsessed with in the last 24 hours.
“My Cutie” by The Shaggs. They were 3 sisters in the 60s who were kinda forced into the studio by their dad. The musicianship is almost comically out of time and shonky, but there is something really amazing about them. It captures that moment when you don’t know the rules of music yet so there’s something really original and pure about what they did.
Favorite thing to do when you get to SF?
I know it’s obvious but I did go to Alcatraz last time I was there and I really dug it. I love the way it’s pretty untouched and not too commercialized. It was really strange, there was a man there who did time on the Rock signing copies of his book. He didn’t look too happy that his life had been reduced to being the bloke who went to Alcatraz.
Any last words?
A bell ain’t a bell till you ring it.
The Go! Team performs April 20th at Mezzanine. Doors are at 9pm and advance tickets are $20.