Monday, September 8, 2014

thunder, lightning, strike

The Go! Team captured lightning in a bottle with the cartoonish cheerleading raveups and flashback breakbeat soundscapes of this exuberant exclamatory pastiche.  The project was the brainchild of Ian Parton:   "I’ve always had a strong sense of what I like.  To me if something’s good then it’s always good. The Go! Team is all my favourite things – from ’60s girl groups to art-rock to electro – rammed together to make something new… It’s about the way you accumulate things...I like the idea of a band being a way of seeing the world and everything should fall into that… and I’m a sucker for group female vocals.  I always think about girl gangs when I write a song. Like they’re taking to the streets with baseball bats...I’m not trying to inspire nostalgia or capture the teen market. To me it’s about the graininess and feel of old archive,’ he smiles. ‘But I knew you’d try and put a filthy spin on things!...I didn’t set out on a quest to make music that makes people happy.  I’m not thinking of the Coke ad where everyone’s linking hands. To me it was about excitement and originality, and I think happiness is a by-product of that. I just wanted to make music that would really kick ass and I could imagine skidding around corners to ... The first album was literally done in a kitchen in Wales with six microphones and a bunch of dodgy vinyl."

'Thunder, Lightning, Strike' was recorded in a garage in Swansea and mixed at Fortress Studios in North London.  Ian's brother Gareth assisted in the post-production, re-recording of vocals, and digital transfer that took place after the group secured a deal with London independent label Memphis Industries:    "It's Ian's original concept and on the record it's pretty much him playing everything apart from the samples.  He's been mucking around with it for years and years. The original demos he did were with an Atari 1040 running Cubase and an S1000 sampler in about 2000. But ever since I've been working in studios he's been popping in doing stuff similar to the Go! Team...We'd set up the desk in their garage and have tie lines going up to the kitchen where he'd record the drums.  He'd be pressing Record and then running up and down the stairs. Frustrating way to do it, working on his own, but he had to do that for a while to get the original demos done. I would go down and help him set up — mic the kit up and then leave him to it because I'd be working on something else and he'd be down there for a week...Ian had an Otari half-inch eight-track and an old Soundtracs desk. He'd stripe timecode and have the samples running — bits he'd nicked from charity-shop records or whatever. The drums would go down live and then be bounced to one track and he'd use the other seven tracks to fill with whatever he could...It's supposed to sound spontaneous and fun, like a band jamming in a room. It's not supposed to necessarily sound like these are samples and these are live instruments and it's all glued together. It's an absolute mish-mash...It's not just lo-fi and cobbled together, it's deliberately sounding like that. The vocal samples are quite often taken from VHS, the rappy cheerleader stuff is from straight-to-video films. And 'cause they sound fucked, you'd kind of have to make everything else sound a bit fucked around it. The mono thing is intentional as well. If you've got a bunch of samples and you start panning them around, it starts sounding quite fake. The Northern soul samples in there, there's not a huge amount of bass on those records, so that was the kind of angle we were going for ... On the original version, all the vocals were samples.  But because it went out on a small indie and we thought it wouldn't do anything, none of the samples were cleared. It's not a good thing to do because in the end it's a big pain in the arse. The label didn't really have any choice, they weren't in a position to do what the Avalanches did, to take a year to clear all the samples. It was a case of 'Let's just put the bloody thing out and see what happens.'...The next thing, it started getting a bit of attention and we hadn't made any contingency plans for having to recreate it without any of the samples. If I'd have realised at the time, I'd have stuck down mixes without the samples on...Most of them are stuff you'd never ever pick up on. It's snippets of charity-shop records that were deleted. People come up to me and go 'Oh yeah, that's the sample from Bob Dylan,' or something. But it's not. There's a few higher-profile things, but they tend to be cover versions of higher profile acts, like the strings from a cover version of... something or other."

The rerecorded version of the album features Jamie Bell on bass guitar,  Sam Dook on guitar;  Chi "Ky" Fukami Taylor on drums;  Ian Parton on electric guitar and harmonica;  Silke Steidinger on various instruments;  and vocals by Ninja (Nkechi Ka Egenamba) and a troupe of teenage girls from south London.  'Thunder, Lightning, Strike'  hit number forty-eight in the UK and was nominated for the Mercury Prize.  Ninja considers the broad range of styles brought by the different members of the live incarnation of the band:   "Sam and Jamie, they’re English guys who like the guitar, sometimes folk music. You’ve got Silke, and she’s a multi-intrumentalist. You’ve got Chi, you’ve got me, I’m from a hip-hop background, and then you’ve got Ian, who’s from a noisy guitar background. We’ve got Northern soul, rock, rap. … It’s a melting pot."

"We came here to rock the microphone"
The single became their biggest hit, going to number thirty-seven in Ireland and twenty-six in the UK.

"Huddle Formation"

"Feelgood by Numbers"

"Get It Together"

"Junior Kickstart"

"Bottle Rocket"

"Everyone's a V.I.P. to Someone"

'Thunder, Lightning, Strike'
full album:

"Panther Dash" (The Go! Team/Paul Cooksey) – 2:50
"Ladyflash" (The Go! Team/Davy DMX/Holland/Dozier/Holland/Smith/Davis/Miner) – 4:16
"Feelgood by Numbers" (The Go! Team) – 1:56
"The Power Is On" (The Go! Team) – 3:14
"Get It Together" (The Go! Team) – 3:28
"We Just Won't Be Defeated" (The Go! Team) – 2:45
"Junior Kickstart" (The Go! Team/Macdermot/Rado/Ragni) – 3:32
"Air Raid GTR" (The Go! Team) – 0:39
"Bottle Rocket" (The Go! Team/Ninja/Ellis) – 3:32
"Friendship Update" (The Go! Team) – 4:00
"Hold Yr Terror Close" (The Go! Team) – 2:18
"Huddle Formation" (The Go! Team/Ninja) – 3:11
"Everyone's a V.I.P. to Someone" (The Go! Team/Neil/Nyro) – 5:08

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