Featured band: Electric Soft Parade 

added: 9 Jul 2007
interviewed by: Newsdesk 

Featured band: Electric Soft Parade -  - Printable version
"I think technology should have just stopped about ten years ago!"

Music News meets Tom White...

Tom White is not, shall we say, on the cutting edge. He doesn't own an iPod and prefers to lug a rucksack of CDs around with him on tour. The vocalist for Brighton-based indie pop outfit Electric Soft Parade craves the fresh sea air of his hometown over London's choking smog, and confesses to feeling like a "sore thumb" next to other artists.

He also doesnít have a very positive view of the music industry. Only 22, he's already nursing the kind of bitter resentment that would do Morrissey proud. Adorning the bandís MySpace page is a quotation from Hunter S. Thompson describing the business as "a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free and good men die like dogs".

"It's a funny quote, isnít it? I agree with everything that it says."

The bandís disillusionment stems from the success of their 2002 debut 'Holes In The Wall', which won them that perennial poisoned chalice, a Mercury Music Prize nomination, and the attentions of industry giant BMG Music. The relationship appears to have been mutually unfulfilling, with lacklustre follow-up album 'The American Adventure' failing to recoup the labelís outlays.

"I think the people we were working with could have treated us better," White muses. "But BMGís a faceless corporation, isnít it? You canít expect support on a personal level that we need as people. Weíre that kind of band. We need people supporting what we do. You want to feel like the people working for you are your friends."

There is an endearing neediness about White that chimes with the yearning earnestness of the bandís songcraft. They would rather have a supportive hug than a large cheque. Which is just as well, since the days of record company largesse are long gone. The band are now with Oxford-based indie label Truck, and new album 'No Need To Be Downhearted' was made on a budget so small they were forced to sleep on the floor of the barn where they were recording.

But White is delighted with the result. "For me it's our best record yet." Heís right Ė from the disarmingly whistlable shuffle of latest single 'Misunderstanding' to the blistering electro-rock riffery of 'If Thatís The Case Then I Donít Know', itís a triumph of melody and accessibility.

But White admits to feeling adrift among the current crop of indie bands. "Iíve never really felt musically part of any scene." Itís perhaps a measure of ESPís isolation that they were the only musicians of their age group to take part in a charity tribute night for Billy Mackenzie, the mercurial frontman of cult '80s post-punk band The Associates, who committed suicide in 1997.

In a line-up largely comprised of Mackenzieís contemporaries, including members of British Electric Foundation, Heaven 17 and Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, Electric Soft Parade performed a cover of Mackenzieís solo torch song 'Blue It Is', which is the B-side to their new single.

"None of the young bands were up for doing it. I just wanted to show his family that heís still having some kind of impact. Iíve only really known the Associatesí stuff for a year or two. Then I got into Billy Mackenzieís solo stuff. I wanted to represent the young 'vanguard'."

Unfortunately, the older generation didnít take too kindly to the intrusion of these impudent upstarts, and much backstage bitchiness ensued. "We turned up and just got shit off everyone. We were the only band who didn't know him when he was alive, so everyone was just like, 'I knew him more than you!'."

There is something haplessly tragicomic about a band who canít seem to find acceptance anywhere, even when they are doing a good turn. White leans in ruefully and whispers an abject admission:

"We played Glastonbury this year and I just didnít know anyone on the bill. It was bizarre."

But he bristles at the suggestion that he is out of touch. "Well, no, I'm in touch with the music I'm in touch with." (Heís eagerly awaiting the new Robert Wyatt album, if you must know.) "But I guess if you don't read the NME for six months youíre just out of the loop." He smiles. "Iím creating my own loop."

'No Need To Be Downhearted' is out now on Truck

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