Marching bands and female vocals with The Go! Team’s Ian Parton

ian partonCrashing drums, chunky background percussion, and melodies that will stick in your head for days. Yep, it's another album from The Go! Team. The troupe is back, led by Ian Parton - who despite being the mainstay and songwriter of the band, continues to work the background clogs on Semicircle, out now via Memphis Industries and reviewed on the site last week.

It's a welcome return from the group, who are accompanied by collaborators far and wide - including The Detroit Youth Choir on "Semicircle Song" - but things have changed. Ian explains: "We have three [members from the original band]: me, Ninja, and Sam [Dook], but now we've got Adam on bass, Simone [Odaranile], and Maki [aka Angela Won-Yin Mak], and then two trumpet players as well. So that's the new part, the brassy thing."

"I'm quite interested in the idea of capturing that moment, and capturing those people who wouldn't call themselves a singer," he goes on to explain. "When you start calling yourself a singer, it comes with all these ticks and ideas about what singers do... Should do. It's a borrowed idea, the way you sing things, and it's kind of a bit like off the shelf emotion in a way for me."


"I'm much more interested in capturing that sort of pure idea of a real person. It might be a bit ropey, but that was the appeal of [The Detroit Youth Choir] for me. I knew that there'd be lots of different voices within it as well, so I had those cheeky moments of very indifferent voices and age groups rubbing shoulders."

Despite the reformation and expansion of the line-up, the new members are already well embedded, and ready for life on the road. When we speak in January, Ian is preparing for the band's first gig of the year in London: "We haven't been playing for a while, to be honest. It'll be good to start thrashing again."

The band will soon tour the UK, with tour dates in London, Glasgow and Manchester, amongst others. See the full tour schedule here.

Transferring Semicircle to the stage will be no mean task because of its multiple layers and 'chaos turned into melody' style. "I'm always recording [in] layers," Ian explains. "I do drums, and then trumpets, and then the vocals are the last thing to do. I kind of want it to sound like it’s all just there [and] just happened in the moment. It takes a bit of time!"

With such a complex recording process, you can understand why The Go! Team's chosen studios are well booked out. The marching band theme that comes out of the time consuming yet rewarding songwriting process is echoed throughout the band's artwork, the inclusion of brass, and the rhythm patterns on Semicircle.

"I think it's just being a fan of particular elements," Ian responds when questioned about the inspiration behind the theme. "There are things I don't like about [marching bands] as well, but I think I try to harness the potential of it. The 'sledgehammer-ness' of it, [and] the force when you layer that many trumpets together. It ends up being slightly out of tune and out of time. That kind of 'high school' feel I suppose. I dig that idea, the particular sound of play, and marching drums, with the beater on the bass drum as well, because it makes it all sort of bouncy."

He continues: "You kind of know it's not a normal drum kit playing. And there are things [on the album] like a 'flume-y' glockenspiel. Like [in] a parade, lots of people are playing the same part on a glockenspiel but they're all slightly out of time with each other."

"It's a real balancing act, isn't it? You don't want it to be bad, you know you want it to be good! [That] kind of defines The Go! Team. I've always had this fear of slickness and professionalism, and things being done too well. But, again that's a balancing act. That it doesn't tip into actually at being shit."


Approaching the topic of so-say 'slick' indie, Parton becomes candid, but still admits "things can be groovy; to get things funky and groovy is actually quite hard. So that kind of thing needs attention to detail, but it's not exactly haphazard. I think I've always just been a fan of distortion, and four tracks, and things like that. So, I just think there's too much [slick indie] in the world [and] it's not hard particularly to make things sound pro these days."

"I'm a great believer in taking an angle, [and] taking stances on things. Everything's aesthetic for me, you know?  A band should be aesthetic. You can't sit around and write a song. You have to take an angle."

True to form, you would be hard pushed to find anyone willing to claim The Go! Team doesn't have a particular 'sound' that's followed them throughout the years. Formed in 2000, Semicircle is their fifth studio album to date, and they've not lost their talent for honing into Ian Parton's vision.

"There's obviously something that makes The Go! Team [stand out]," Parton agrees. "There's something intrinsically Go! Team about it, which I can't put my finger on. It's never a forced thing in particular. It's just a natural thing. Hopefully, even though Go! Team songs are instantly recognizable, there are lots of different styles. I wouldn't say like "Mayday" is similar to "Everyone's a VIP", or that "Ladyflash" is like "Semicircle Song", or whatever. It's pretty broad."

Order The Go! Team's Semicircle album, Ian Parton's latest triumph, out now via Memphis Industries, from here.


One Response to “Marching bands and female vocals with The Go! Team’s Ian Parton”


    1. Marching bands and female vocals with The Go! Team’s Ian Parton – Live List - 29/01/2018

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