Since their seminal debut album in 2004, The Go! Team have created music that defies definition, whilst retaining a fun-loving familiarity that’s impossible not to enjoy. This year saw the release of fourth LP “The Scene Between”, after a self-imposed hiatus that nearly meant the end for the band. Jimmy Volts caught up with head honcho Ian Parton to discover how this break lead to the creation of one of their best records yet…
Operating as two entities, experimental studio project and formidable live act, The Go! Team are anything but conventional. Their latest album saw the team return to their crate-digging roots, with Parton setting himself four basic rules: Melody would guide the songs, samples would be treated as instruments rather than a basis for a song, the production would vary, and finally, he’d only choose singers he’d never previously heard of.
Explaining the reason behind this approach, Parton shared: “I felt (especially for journalists), the band had been reduced to a list of things, y’know? Car-chase horns + distorted drums = the Go! Team. People thought we were a jam band, and the songwriting side had been overlooked. That’s never been the case. I’ve always been a songwriter. I wanted to bring melody and songwriting back to the forefront again, along with our usual elements of filth and weirdness.”
The result of Ian’s efforts is an unbridled triumph of a record – a glorious vocal-lead collection that picks up where previous single “Buy Nothing Day” left off. Next though, he had the task of rebuilding a divided band with new recruits, as after their previous tour, they had found themselves in hiatus. Some experimented with side-projects, Ninja undertook solo efforts and others settled to start families. Really, it was a blessing in disguise, Ian explains: “I think the hiatus was important. It… re-charged us. I mean, I do miss the old line-up and everything. But that was just how it went, with people having babies and stuff. I think the band means more to us this time round, especially for me and Ninja. We needed a new line-up for this album anyway because the melodic direction needed great singers for more harmonies. I scoured the world searching for the right vocalist for each track. I think we’ve nailed it with the current line up. I like to keep our shows teetering on the edge of chaos, just to keep things interesting.”
The band seem to have well and truly bounced back from the brink, at least as a live act – as for Ian there was a point at which he thought the band had run its course … “It is hard work. There were times when I thought the Go! Team would never play live again. I just thought it was too hard. No matter how many people we’d throw at the band, there was always something more to be done in terms of translating the recordings live. But then I know some people who prefer the sound of the band live compared to the records and some people who think the opposite.”
Ian’s highlighted an important point about the Go! Team there, they’re a band without clique. Their disjointed brand of cut ‘n’ paste collage pop gives them an irresistible appeal that’s so broad and downright enjoyable that they’re as easy to love as they are almost impossible to classify accurately. The fact that they’re uncategorizable could be their secret weapon. Ian muses on this point: “I still don’t know who the average Go! Team fan is. I looked out into the crowd at a gig recently and saw a middle-aged northern soul fan stood next to teenage girls who love what Ninja does. All I know is I love variety, and different voices. I don’t quite know what we are. Are we a hipster band? God knows!”
And who cares? As long as Ian and co. can continue to fill our ears with such delicious musical morsels as they always have!