The Go! Team's debut album, Thunder, Lightning, Strike, has made an impact as quickly and energetically as the title itself suggests, with praise coming from every angle of the British music press. NME, as reserved as ever, labelled them “one of the greatest bands in the world today”. So, who are the Go! Team? Are they yet another indie rock band hoping to resurrect the legacy of Britpop/rock ? “The press do cling to the idea of the classic indie rock band” says Ian Parton, founder member and main songwriter, ”which is generally always 4 blokes with guitars and the idea that, no matter how musical tastes change, you can never beat a 4 chord rock ballad. It's fair enough but I'm not that into it.”
Indeed the Go! Team are about as far away from four chord rock ballads as you can get. You get the sense from Parton that his main concern is looking forward, rather than backwards: “I think what inspires me to do music is seeing uncharted musical territory and trying to get there before anyone else“, he says when asked what inspires him to write songs. Their sound, a combination of samples and live musicianship, has variously been described as Sonic Youth meets the Jackson 5, or a female Avalanches making theme tunes to 70s cop shows. The cop show reference is one that Parton has heard, time and again it would seem. “Everyone always says its like a cop show theme which I don't totally go with”, he says, though he continues ”I'd be lying if I didn't say the feeling of a blaxploitation, a Charlie brown episode or an old survival documentary hasn't affected my musical tastes and lots of people always talk in cinematic terms when they're describing it – normally in a too literal way for my liking”.
There's no denying though that there is a hint of the past, wrapped up in the future, in their music. Much of this can be explained by Parton's enthusiastic love of vintage production sounds: “I'm anti nostalgia but lots of the samples do come from past decades. And I like old production style – slamming sounds to tape so they distort – that's what the northern soul sound is all about. I think people say we're retro ‘cos they associate brass with the past – it’s just that blaring trumpets are one of my favourite sounds.”
Blaring trumpets, blaxploitation and Northern Soul colliding together – do they give an inkling as to where the Go! Team are from? Not really, as The Go! Team got together in Brighton. “Being in Brighton had no effect on this record”, says Parton. “it could have been done anywhere. It really just reflects the kind of music I'm into”. He continues, “I do think, though, music should sound like the country you're from. One of the things I'm least happy about is that I think it [the album] conjures up American images. Partly because of growing up watching American films and TV, everyone thinks of blaring horns as a yankee inner city sound.” You get the feeling from Parton that part of the problem is the identity grafted on to the record by reviews, but it's something he's keen to change on the next album ”using more UK vocals on the new stuff will give it the Team GB stamp.”
The vocals on the album, are provided by 'Ninja' their 'dynamite' singer. There's a strange cross over between chanting and classic 60s girl groups evident, but how important are vocals to Parton in the songwriting? “I guess it’s more using the voice as an instrument to ram home what the instruments are doing. I'm not massively concerned about lyrics – just that they shouldn't be crap and they should be exciting. I love that double dutch chant kinda feel like we're rallying the audience to join in.” But while he's not too concerned with lyrics, the vocals are a key part of the sound: ”I often like a song and then vocals kick in and ruin it. But when you get vocals right they make it 100 times better. I love the idea of vocal teamwork”.
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