Big Day Out '06: Ready steady Go!

By Scott Kara

Imagine walking into a school yard with a happy din all around. There are girls skipping and chanting in one corner, home boys and girls hanging out in another, and a bunch of skinny white boys belting out songs on a guitar. That's what the Go! Team sound like.

But band founder, Ian Parton, that's Ian P. to you, says the playfully noisy nature of their debut album, Thunder, Lightning, Strike, is not an attempt to relive his childhood.

"I'm anti-nostalgia and I don't reminisce about my childhood being the highlight of my life either," he says from the band's tour bus, somewhere in the middle of Germany.

"I was trying to make something quite modern out of something old. I'm not a great believer in looking backwards and thinking the good old days were the best, or anything like that. It just so happens that I love the sounds of horns, the glockenspiel, the recorder, or the banjo, and the theme from The Waltons or Midnight Cowboy."

On songs like Huddle Formation and Get It Together there's everything from brazen old school hip-hop to indie-noise rock, and even rousing double-dutch samples.

"I had to tone the double-dutch down a bit," he says, "because I don't want things to be too cutesy and sickly. I'm quite into the feeling of things, like the feeling you get from an old Sesame Street episode.

Or going to a factory. As you grow up you like different things, whether it's Bollywood, Public Enemy, or Charlie Brown music. So [the Go! Team] is like cutting together all the things I've dug over the years really."

The secret to making all these different elements cohesive - because Thunder, Lightning, Strike is a thrilling non-stop ride - is great melodies. "Or else it's just a gimmick," he says.

"The bottomline for me though is excitement. I like to make it manic in some sort of way. Bollywood strings have a climbing violin thing, I think that's an exciting sound. And then Sonic Youth can do a similar sound, but on a guitar. Or trumpets that are all over one another, that's exciting, too."

The Go! Team's 4.45pm slot on the Essential Stage at the Big Day Out will be a must-see then, and a great warm-up for the night-time entertainment.

Parton has always "monkeyed round" with making music from samples, and over the years amassed hundreds of tapes of sounds he has recorded into his four track.

"Most of it's dodgy, but you get to the point where you can play things back and say, 'Hang on, that's all right. Let's use that'. It's that sort of process and it's a long one."

The first remnants of a Go! Team track came about in 2001. But it wasn't until mid-2004 that Parton got a band together. The current line-up is a lolly scramble of cultures and musical tastes. There's Jamie Bell on bass and Sam Dook on guitar (two British geezer friends of Parton's); Chi Fukami Taylor on drums and multi-instrumentalist Kaori (two Japanese girls he recruited through friends); and finally, Ninja (a north Londoner) on vocals.

"I found Ninja on the internet. I put a posting on a message board, which I can hardly remember doing, but I must've done it. She sent me an email back saying, 'Old school rapper found', with loads of exclamation marks after it. She was quite baffled by it [the Go! team's music] but was interested and she ended up being the missing element that tied it altogether.

"We are genuinely from really different backgrounds. Ninja is from a strictly hip-hop background, and she wouldn't give a toss about the bands I'm into."

He thinks she'd hate My Bloody Valentine, which, with bands like Sonic Youth, Big Black and Fugazi, are among his favourites.

"But that makes it interesting because Ninja's coming from a totally different angle. There's us on one side of the stage, you know, us skinny white boys thrashing round with guitars, and there's her in the middle shaking her arse. It's quite a bizarre combination of people really."

He was in his mid-teens when he started listening to "good music" like My Bloody Valentine rather than Simple Minds and "all that toss".

"MBV just made sounds out of a guitar which nobody had ever done before or has done since. They totally nailed their sound, a wall of warped guitar. It was unbelievable."

So for Parton, it's both a surprise and a privilege that reclusive My Bloody Valentine frontman Kevin Shields has remixed the Go! Team's Ladyflash and Huddle Formation into one song.

The track will be on the Step & Repeat EP that's out soon.

"I've never heard of him doing anything like that, except for a couple of bands. He really chooses who he wants to work with, and he largely doesn't do anything.

"I mean," he continues excitedly, "I was in school bands and we ripped off MBV, and detuned our guitars and stuff, so if somebody had told me when I was 16 that Kevin Shields was going to be remixing my songs I wouldn't have believed them."

LOWDOWN

WHO: The Go! Team

WHEN: Essential Stage, 4.45pm_5.30pm

WHAT: Indie noise rock meets old school hip-hop meets schoolyard fun.

LINE UP: Ian P. (founder/guitar/harmonica), Ninja (vocals), Chi (drums), Kaori (multi-instrumentalist), Jamie Bell (bass), Sam Dook (guitar)

ALBUMS: Thunder, Lightning, Strike (2004)

NEW RELEASE: Step & Repeat EP, out late January

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