Go! Team: No One Sits on the Bench
story by tim mcmahan
Lazy-i: July 26, 2006
The Go! Team
Monday, June 31, 9 p.m.
13th & Martha
Team is huge. You just don't know it. Go to Europe, however, and
they're everywhere. They're big in Japan, too. But here, well,
no one knows them, yet.
is not lost on Go! Team mad genius Ian Parton, who created the
band's infectiously danceable music by piecing together samples
of some of his favorite sounds from sources like Sonic Youth,
Sesame Street, Shellac, old hip-hop, television action-show sound
tracks, and whatever else caught his ear. Just add a fuzzy break-beat
and some tasty rap/yell/cheer vocals and you've got yourself a
hit. Like the scratch-guitar-hip-hop-orchestra-laden-rock-flute
jive of "Ladyflash" from their mondo-successful debut
Thunder, Lightning, Strike. It's a pseudo anthem across
the water where the band is a festival staple, like at Bristol's
Ashton Court Festival, where they performed in front of thousands
just the day before our interview.
But here in
America, The Go! Team is an unknown commodity to anyone but those
of us who watch MTV's Subterranean. The anonymity has the band's
U.S. record label, Columbia, all in a tizzy. "They are very
underwhelmed by us because we didn't meet their expectations,"
Parton said via cell from his home in Brighton.
expected big things from a band that seemingly arrived bigger than
life on the European scene. "We were lucky to bypass the backroom
of pubs," Parton said. "Most bands earn their right to be
big by doing the toilet tours -- that's what they're called over here
-- in obscurity. We never had to play to empty rooms.
feel like we're huge in America, I guess. Amongst people who know
about music and search stuff out, we're vaguely well known, but
mention our name to anyone else and we barely register, you know
what I mean?"
their obscurity partially on the fact that he and the band won't
sell out. "We have a habit of saying no to things like remixes
of songs," he said. "They (the label) gets pissed off."
They also don't
allow their music to be used in commercials -- what the Brits call
"adverts" -- though they've had plenty of offers, including
from the good ol' Golden Arches. "People coincide the release
of a single with the release of an advert," Parton said. "It
impacts the shelf life of a band when you're brought to peoples'
attention that way."
Go! Team are doing all the right things to become this year's biggest
European import, including playing Red Rocks in Colorado with The
Flaming Lips and Ween a couple days before their Sokol Underground
gig, then playing Chicago's Lollapalooza in early August followed
by support slots with heroes Sonic Youth.
How do you go
from playing a festival filled with thousands of fans dancing and
"going mental" to playing in front of a few hundred lurkers
at the Sokol dungeon? "We do the same thing whether in front
of a few people or thousands," Parton said. "I like sweaty
rooms when there's a rowdy crowd right in front of us instead of
behind a massive barrier."
bands earn their right to be big by doing the toilet tours
-- that's what they're called over here -- in obscurity. We
never had to play to empty rooms.."
typical show involves six people, two drum kits and an assortment
of noisemakers, including glockenspiel and recorders. "Everyone's
running across the stage picking up instruments," he said.
"Ninja (the band's vocalist) is like the ringleader."
It's her job
to coax people to dance -- no mean feat when you're in Omaha. Parton
doesn't mind, however, if you just stand there at the show with
your arms crossed. "We do base our gig on how people bump around,"
he said. "But I don't believe in hassling people. If you just
stand around, it's cool. I won't necessarily thrash around at shows,
either. I stand there and check it out. But we always love it when
people are down to it, stage diving and stuff like that. It's a
Parton and the band are busy in Brighton working on the follow-up
to 2004's Thunder Lightning Strike. "It'll still be
sample-based music, even if it's not literally sampled. It will
seem like a sample," he said. "Most people don't know
if it's live or a sample, anyway. I want it to sound cut-and-paste,
with genres next to each other. Public Enemy is a big influence
on this album, with their military style and break beats, but mixed
with a kind of cheeky recorder and glockenspiel. The band will certainly
be playing a lot more on it than the first one. They're all better
musicians than I am. I struggle with bar chords."
32, music and The Go! Team are more of a hobby than a calling. Before
he got the idea for the band, he used make a living traveling the
world filming documentaries about things like street walking and
nanotechnology. "I'll go back to it when I'm too old to rock,"
he said. "Music isn't a career. If you approach it that way,
it'll make you do desperate things."
Published in The Omaha Reader July 26, 2006.
Copyright © 2006 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.