Wednesday, July 27, 2005

THE MAN WHO BECAME A TEAM



Unlike most bands, the Go! Team never spent their nights of rare and opportunistic moments recording a label-baiting demo in a stuffy, damp garage. In fact, while the album Thunder, Lightning, Strike was being produced, there was no band at all, or even a team for that matter. Rather, there was a guy, a shy and demur 28-year-old television documentarian who had a collector’s love for vinyl records and the time to search for and compile obscure samples into a celebratory and vibrant mosaic of rock-influenced pep-rally songs, the most effective recreation of youth’s naiveté not found since a Jackson 5 record. In fact, Thunder, Lightning, Strike is so simple sounding and effortlessly enjoyable that if you didn’t know otherwise, you would assume that children were involved in the recording process. During our photo shoot, Go! Teamster Ian Parton reminisces about the time he discovered that his bedroom experiments were being recognized outside of his bedroom. “I was surprised. I think this album sounds like the opposite of commercial success,” Ian says. “It’s way too optimistic and sloppy.”

After first releasing a 7” single for “Ladyflash,” the buzz inevitably encircled Parton’s chaotic-yet-comforting sound, which in turn created more of a demand for the music and the group that was purportedly making it. What made the Go! Team aesthetic so enjoyable was that the songs sounded like outtakes from a hip children’s show, or worn vinyl versions of Blacksploitation theme songs as channeled through indie rock. The only problem Parton encountered was that he had no band and moreover, his label, Memphis Industries had secured the Go! Team an opening slot for Franz Ferdinand on their Swedish tour. Incredibly, Ian copied a page from Rock Band 101 and took out an ad looking for the rest of his group. He had three weeks to find the Go! Team.

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If ever there were a group that could serve as the musical version of The Real World, it would be the Go! Team. The only person missing is the confrontational bike messenger. The current line-up consists of a three Brighton blokes, Sam Dook (guitar, drums, banjo), composer Parton (guitar, harmonica, drums), Jamie Bell (bass) and three multi-cultural girls: Chi, a soft-spoken Japanese drummer who barely, and of course, softly, speaks English, Silke, a German import who serves as the resident indie-rock fan (Silke wears a Sonic Youth sweatshirt during the interview), and, of course, Ninja, the African-British mouthpiece who initially didn’t “get” what the Go! Team was all about (and also doesn’t know who Sonic Youth is). Honestly, a casting agency couldn’t have picked a more eclectic bunch. But Parton insists that his rocking model U.N. was intentional. "It's almost like a social experiment in a way," he’s been quoted to say, "You get people from totally different backgrounds, musical tastes and personalities, and then put them together in a tour bus." And while it does sound like a pitch to MTV for a new series, it’s a noble effort and somehow works. Granted their live performances are occasionally shaky (there’s a lacking organic element) but there's something praiseworthy about seeing a collective of people coming together from different places and different cultures to perform happy and simple music, and therein making a new culture of their own.

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