We chat to The Go! Team about coming back together for new album Semicircle...
The Go! Team are a band like no other.
The brainchild of Ian Parton, the project started life as his own personal project, blending screeching Sonic Youth style guitars with hip-hop beats and obscure samples.
Parton's hopes for the project weren't huge, which is why when their 2004 debut album Thunder, Lightning, Strike started picking up great reviews and momentum, Parton had to not only put a band together to take it out live, but re-record a large chunk of the album as many of the samples hadn't been cleared.
The band, which included rapper Ninja and former I'm Being Good guitarist Sam Donk, became a permanent fixture up until 2015's album The Scene Between, which featured Parton teaming up with various guest vocalists. Now though, the band is back and they have a new album to talk about.
We spoke to Parton about getting the band back together and the making of new album Semicircle...
How did you want Semicircle to move on from what you did on The Scene Between?
"The Scene Between was an exercise in trying to write the classic bridge building song - with lots of melody and singing to try and bust out of the idea that The Go! Team songs are just chanting over cop show music. This album Semicircle is bigger in scale - lots of gang vocals, lots of brass stacked up, steel drums, glockenspiels so I guess it sounds more like the conventional The Go! Team sound but with an emphasis on singing and melody and songs with lots of tangent-y sections. In some ways, I think it's the best The Go! Team record."
You brought back Sam Dook and Ninja for this album, why did you decide to do that?
"Well, The Scene Between was just a moment in time where we stopped operating as a band briefly. I never wanted to operate as a lone performer behind a laptop as that would be terrible. I always want to be a band - and particularly live they are more important than I am and they are better at playing their instruments than I am! - I'm just the songwriter and I'm the one with the patience to sit there listening to thousands of records for months on end."
Which song on the album took the longest to get right?
"None of my songs are written in one sitting like a singer-songwriter. Sometimes as in the case of a song like 'The Answer's No, Now What's The Question?', the chorus was possibly 10 years old and I’m waiting to find the right verse for it..."
And which came together most quickly?
"I normally write songs by hoarding ideas and then sticking them together to see if they flow together and ‘Mayday’ was one of those nice things where the lyrical idea of a love emergency coming together with the morse code working as a musical thing - so it became this big coherent thing."
You’ve got the Detroit Youth Choir on the album, how did the collaboration come about?
"I always write songs and then think what kind of voice it needs - sometimes Ninja in the band will sing on things and she is super cool but other times I need much more of a choir thing or different kinds of accents."
"For lots of the songs I was imagining a community choir - I didn’t want to go for a gospel choir as they might oversing and be too pro and I didn’t want to go too young as that would have been too sickly - I figured teenagers was the way to go and I just approached one in Detroit cos for me it kinda encapsulates everything I’m into - lady soul and noise."
What kind of album is this lyrically? Is there a theme tying the songs together?
"Contrary to lots of peoples idea about The Go! Team the lyrics are pretty on the down low. 'Chainlink Fence' is about trying to salvage a relationship and Plan Are Are Like A Dream You Organise Is' about missed opportunities. I guess I like that bittersweet thing."
When did you settle on the title of Semicircle?
"It's just one of those nice zen words - but I thought subconsciously it seemed to suit the album because I’m often imagining people physically arranged in semicircles singing and playing trumpets and sousaphones."
Were there any titles in contention?
"I always struggle with album titles as they are such vague things. I keep books of slogans dating back to the 90’s so when it comes to that time of naming things I always raid these books - ‘Sportsday Streaker’ is one of those slogans maybe I could have used that..."
What are your plans to take the album out live?
"There are eight of us on stage these days as we have two lady brass players with us - we’re turning into f****g UB40!! I don’t know if it's gonna impact on our thrashing but we’ll have to see. We always had thrashing based injuries before and they are about to ramp up..."