Oftentimes, when a band returns from a 4+ year hiatus, it's expected that they'll re-enter the musical conversation with a new look, a new sound, and usually one or two new members. Not so with The Go! Team. The six-piece Brit indie troupe—heralded in the early aughts for their hyper-energetic, pulsating chants—is back with their fourth album, The Scene Between (out now), and it plays just as good as the old stuff, minus five of its founding members.
Amidst his former colleagues pairing off, having kids, and trying their hand at solo projects, frontman Ian Parton (also now a father of two) dug deep in the archives of his iPhone to unearth previously recorded tracks and old voice memos to tinker around with on his computer and transform into the amalgam of sounds that comprise one of his songs. "It's just a blur for me," he tells InStyle of his production process, which often consists of combining an array of separate recordings to follow a specific, preconceived melody.
For this record, Parton also had the added layer of finding the appropriate voice to pair with each of his compositions, which required searching high and low for the right fit. "That complicates the process even more," he adds. But the reward was worth the hunt: All 12 tracks on The Scene Between evoke nostalgia upon first listen, proving the age-old adage that sometimes you just don't mess with a good thing. We caught up with the one-man show ahead of the album's release. Here's an excerpt from our conversation:
It’s been a while. What did you do during your time off?
It's tough to say, honestly. There have been babies—I've got two now and [former bandmates] Jamie [Bell] and Kaori [Tsuchida] just had one. Plus I’m a really slow writer. I’m not somebody who sits down and writes a song from start to finish. I generally hoard thousands of ideas and pick the best bits. I've got a document full of thousands of ideas that I keep going back to.
You tend to sample a lot of tracks in your songs. Are you ever worried you’re going to get the Vanilla Ice treatment?
Well, mine are really obscure. With this record, I really didn't want to lean heavily on samples—as in the kind of style of sample where you get a cool song and then you loop it and put a rap over the top and call it a song. I wanted to write songs and crowbar in these samples to fit my ideas rather than steal anyone else's. There's one song called "Blowtorch" where I literally belt the song out of cords from a billion different places. There's no chance of anyone ever finding anything there.
I read that you originally wrote "Blowtorch" as an acoustic song. Why the change?
Once I have an irresistible song that can stand up on its own, that's when I try and make it weirder. The melody is 90 percent of the work for me. I get quite geeky about it. I arranged all of my samples into different notes and chords, so if I needed a particular cord, I could go to a specific track.
What made you originally decide to adopt this cut and paste style of songwriting?
Part of it is the fact that I don’t know if anyone’s ever done it before. It’s a quite time-consuming way to say things. I originally had this approach where I was working on the song backwards—I’d write the song and then I'd try and find the voice to match the song, and I’d literally be looking all over the world for it.
You wrote, performed, and produced this whole album on your own. How long did it take?
We were touring up until a certain point, and I do find myself distracted with the kids and stuff, but the truth is that I’m never not doing it. I could be walking down the street and that missing link could come to me then. It’s a never-ending thing.
Listen to “Reason Left To Destroy” below, and purchase The Scene Between from the iTunes Store ($10) now.