Band break-ups can be complicated things but Ian Parton, founder of The Go! Team, is quick to play down the significance of the parting of ways that followed the release of his group’s third album, Rolling Blackouts, in 2011.
As he explains, it was more the case that it was becoming “harder and harder” for some members to tour “because of babies and things like that so I guess we just said ‘We’re not going to play live any more’”.
For Parton, who’d launched The Go! Team as solo project in 2004 before recruiting band members to perform his songs live, it offered a chance to go back to basics.
“I knew that I’d keep doing music,” he says, “I didn’t know particularly if it was going to be called The Go! Team or not. I’ve always been the songwriter for the band, I did Thunder Lightning Strike as a sort of solo thing, I kind of saw it as a continuation of that way of working, I suppose.”
A self-confessed creative hoarder – “I just amass loads of s***, it can be samples or it can be my ideas” – he spent the last four years gradually honing songs into what would become his fourth longplayer, The Scene Between
“Every song is kind of a greatest hits of ideas, each song has my five best ideas in it which could be written yesterday or they could be five years old,” he says of his way of working. “I just remember my favourite bits and try to crowbar them into songs.”
Toned down this time are The Go! Team’s hip-hop influences in favour of poppier melodies.
“It’s picking up where songs like Buy Nothing Day and Ready To Go Steady left off, really,” Parton notes. “I could have gone off in so many directions – that’s the good part about The Go! Team, I suppose, there are so many dimensions to it but hopefully always sounding like The Go! Team – but I was just thinking people never really picked up so much on the songwriting, it always turned into a list of things – ‘if you add car chase horns to Sonic Youth guitars and blah blah blah you get this’ type of thing – but I always figured people never really paid attention to the actual songs.
“I really wanted to put the spotlight on songwriting in the classic idea of it. I’ve got this obsession with melodies and catchiness in a hopefully un-obvious kind of a way, I love things that stick in your head but aren’t really direct, they’re a bit...I always think of the word ‘non-linear’.
“I’ve got an obsession with girl groups and French pop and things like that so I guess those were what I was looking towards, in a way, the perfect pop song type of idea but then the other part of me wants to record that pop song on an answer machine.”
The cutting and pasting of samples from mutiple sources remains integral to the way Parton works. He’s critical of those that lift large chunks of other people’s songs wholesale.
“That gives sampling a bad name, that sort of stuff. When it’s done right it’s a really kick ass art form. Believe it or not this record has got loads of samples in it, a song like Blowtorch actually has got 30 samples in it, you wouldn’t really realise it. It gives it a strange edge to it because each chord is taken from a different place but then I’ve put a guitar over the top of it so it kind of bleeds altogether.”
The search for singers involved “lots of trawling”.
“One thing I realised I needed a choir for it so I worked with a gospel choir that I worked with on Rolling Blackouts, or one song I realised I needed a kind of badass, really bratty kind of thing for Blowtorch and believe it or not that’s really hard because no one sings like that, or I thought I’d put an Asian accent in this one – Atom from Beijing, and just really work back from the song, wracking my brain and thinking what kind of voice would bring it to life.”
What stands out is Parton’s fixation with female voices. It remains the case that Chuck D of rap legends Public Enemy is the only male vocalist to have ever featured on a Go! Team song, back on their 2007 single Flashlight Fight.
“It’s a weird one, isn’t it?” Parton reflects. “It’s the combination of a few things, really – part of it’s that I’ve always got this fear of the NME fantasy indie band, boys with guitars in tight jeans thinking they’re really cool, I want to get so far from that as possible, and part of it’s just personal taste, just loving Riot Grrrl and girl groups and Roxanne Shante and all that kind of stuff.”
The new band Parton has assembled for upcoming live shows is “half old and half new”.
“It’s me, Sam Dook and Ninja who’s obviously a pretty key part of the group, if I didn’t have Ninja back in the group I probably wouldn’t have played live, to be honest, and then we have three new girls – Simone [Odaranile] on the drums, Cheryl [Pinero] on bass and Maki who’s a kind of multi-instrumentalist. It’s like a new band that can represent all sides of the band, from the zingy new stuff to the brass band, b**** out thrash stuff.
“It’s going to be songs from across all four albums, only five from the new record, because I think the thrashier stuff is really important for the live show from my point of view of playing it – that’s the payoff, that’s the fun bit, really.”
The Go! Team play at Brudenell Social Club, Leeds on June 6. For details visit http://www.brudenellsocialclub.co.uk/whats-on/go-team/