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Stereoboard Speaks To Morning Parade Ahead of Their Glasgow Show (Interview)

Monday, 28 February 2011 Written by Jonny Rimmer
Stereoboard Speaks To Morning Parade Ahead of Their Glasgow Show (Interview)

Hotly tipped for 2011, Essex quintet Morning Parade brought their pumping, atmospheric show to Glasgow for the first time this weekend. Headlining at King Tuts, the Parlophone-signed band were on form for their first headline show on Scottish soil. Stereoboard caught up with Steve Sparrow, lead singer, pre-gig.

You recently signed to Parlophone, a well known and respected label. How did that come about?

A long time ago we were contacted by a guy from EMI, who’d heard our stuff on Myspace. At that point I just thought ‘No Way’; we just weren’t ready. As we did more and more shows, interest began to build. We met our manager Dave (Wildlife Management) before we’d even got a deal, and it was at one of our shows that Parlophone picked us up. I suppose I was just amazed at how well this big label ‘got us’. Their vision for the band was exactly in sync with ours, which is very important.

ImageYou’ve mentioned wanting to put Harlow on the musical map, as it were. Was that a motivation in wanting to start the band?

I wouldn’t necessarily say a motivation. Obviously there are millions of bands who are fuelled by how drab their hometown is. Harlow is essentially a suburb: a satellite town and virtually all of Morning Parade were born at Princess Alexandra, the Hospital there. It’s one of these towns where, you know, the same people are born and die there, and there was a definite sense of wanting to break out. London is only a half hour away on the train, and yet everything is so insulated. That’s not to say there weren’t positives. There was a music scene, which was essentially how most of the band got to know each other. We’d go to gigs at The Square, the local venue, which also served as this sort of Rock School that the council supported.

Did you hit upon a sound straight away? Or would you say the band has evolved significantly?

As I say, the band sort of met through the local music scene and we’d all been in different bands or knew each other from school/college; I knew Phil, the bassist, from school. When we started playing together, we would just jam most of the time. I think there were about six jams that we used to play over and over, and eventually we kicked on and started writing and got ourselves gigging.

In terms of our sound, I’ve always liked the idea of dance rhythms pushing against a 4/4 rock beat, and it’s something we pursued and played around with. When we developed our style, we were very lucky in that Parlophone essentially gave us all the creative freedom we needed. They encouraged us to just work on our song writing first and foremost, and take the songs where we saw fit.

Hopefully you’re not too bored of answering this next question! Basically, which bands influence you the most and why?

I think first of all, I speak for all the boys in saying Radiohead. They always have something to say, and have pushed the envelope again and again. In terms of song writing, I’d say Jeff Buckley definitely. Mews are also amazing. Years ago they came to The Square in Harlow, and they were just something else. I was very used to just seeing the local punk bands or what have you coming on and doing their thing, and then this other-worldly band from Denmark just came along with projections and this massive show. Biffy Clyro are another band, particularly their older material. They are one of these bands who came down our way earlier in their career, back when they were opening with Hope for an Angel! They were one of these amazing bands who just did the own thing and didn’t care what people thought – they’re only three guys but what an eruption they made.

What about more Dance-orientated influences?

Well there’s obviously the Prodigy, from Essex, and also the Groove Armada. Faithless are another one. When I was in my teens, I remember seeing them for the first time and seeing their live show with a drum kit and guitars etc was very eye-opening.

The British ‘Indie Scene’ has become very crowded in recent years. Would you say that Morning Parade offer something new to the table?

It seems that these days if you are white and play the guitar, that means you must be Indie! [Laughs] The definition of ‘Indie’ has obviously changed because back in the day it meant you were on an independent label, and we’re on a major label. Do we offer something different? Who knows? What I can say is that nothing that we do is contrived. We write honestly about real things, about real situations, and I think that’s important as an artist.

Are there any particular lyrical themes to your work?

Writing lyrics was probably one of the things that I’ve personally worked particularly hard on. It’s hard to explain really, they vary. I’ve written from experience a lot, and I like the concept of blowing up tiny scenarios into something much bigger. Of the songs written so far, there’s a definite sense of looking up, and it is often others I’ve spoken to that have observed that really. The lyrics aren’t driven towards any sort of mood, but many are more positive than anything.

You’ve been recording the album at Damon Albarn’s '13 Studios'. What was that experience like? And did you get to meet him?

We recorded the majority of the songs there, and it was the first time that we’d spent a long time together in a studio. It was nice and private, and there was a definite chilled out atmosphere to it all. Jason Hewitt, Gorillaz animator/all round extraordinaire, was only upstairs a lot of the time, which was amazing. We only met Damon Albarn briefly a couple of times, but he seemed lovely.

Have you got many festivals planned this year?

Oh, yes, lots. Obviously I have to stay tight-lipped on a lot of it, but we definitely have some planned. Festivals can be very hard work but they’re very rewarding and always good fun. It’s a different dynamic to your own gigs. 'Under the Stars' (first single) has gone down well in France and Germany, and we’re getting a lot of feedback and radio play over there, so we definitely want to head there.

Do you have a favourite festival?

Not particularly. I know the line-ups can be pretty sketchy to say the least, but I suppose for nostalgia I’d say V Festival, because it was my first festival and it’s down our way.

You’re in Glasgow for the first time tonight, how have you found Scottish crowds? And how has the touring been so far?

Yes, it’s the first Scottish show we’ve played on this tour, and supporting Jon Fratelli in Edinburgh marked the first time we’d even been to Scotland! The audience here are very warm and friendly. They like their banter, and there’s always someone sticking around to chat. It’s been like that all over on this tour, which is helpful because feedback is really important.

The tour has been very overwhelming so far; we’ve played to a busy room every night. My favourite so far would probably be the Bodega in Nottingham. The first time we played there was probably the worst gig we’ve ever played, so to go back there and have everyone singing our songs was really nice

Finally, what are your aspirations for 2011?

Our biggest aspiration is to put out a record that we as a band are all proud of. To record something of value is very important. The music industry can be fickle, so this could be our only album or our first of many. For that reason, when you make a record you want to make one that people will still be listening to years afterwards.

Morning Parade's new Single 'A&E' is out today on Parlophone Records.

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