INTERVIEW: A Festival, A Parade | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Although things may have only started for the Newcastle alt. rockers last June, there is absolutely nothing about A Festival, A Parade that signifies inexperience. Their upcoming EP A Piece of Meat, An Irregular Heartbeat has the distinction of being a debut release that doesn’t sound like a debut at all. Not many bands can hop into a studio five months after they’ve formed and knock out something that sounds this solid, and this may have something to do with their experience within the music scene: singer and guitarist Joe Allan cut his teeth as a solo act, bassist Ollie Winn co-runs promotional-powerhouse Beyond The Wall, whilst guitarist and sonic architect extraordinaire Reece Spencer and innovatively hyperkinetic drummer Liam Tellum are members of the post-rock outfit Shades.

Their experience has allowed the band to mould a concrete philosophy of what they want AFAP to be, and create the kind of music they love. Winn perfectly exemplifies their mind-set: “We’ve got a hunger to not stay in one place for a long time, and get out of Newcastle as much as we can. When you start expecting something, that’s when you start to fail. You’ll get too complacent and you’ll flounder.” Spencer interjects: “If there’s a lot of people in one place who love what you do, it’s easy to get too comfortable and not strive. I love Newcastle, but I don’t want to supress myself either.”

AFAP simply isn’t an extension of Allan’s solo act, it’s a beast of a whole new nature

For Allan, AFAP is the culmination of everything he’s been working towards since his days as a solo musician. “I’d wanted [to be in a band] from the very moment I started writing songs, it was always just a case of not having the right people around.” It’s evident that, within AFAP, Allan’s more in his element. In A Peace of Meat…’s standout track I’ve Made My Peace With It All, his voice perfectly harmonises with Spencer’s intricate melodies and Tellum’s relentlessly technical and otherworldly drumming. Meanwhile, Winn’s smooth, funk-tinged bass is the calm amidst the storm of complex noise. In two and a half minutes, it’s proven that AFAP simply isn’t an extension of Allan’s solo act, it’s a beast of a whole new nature.

Allan takes lyrical influence from bands such as The Twilight Sad, Frightened Rabbit and The National, but the musical influences are far more diverse; Spencer cites post-rock, classic punk, Thurston Moore and Brand New’s Vincent Accardi as influences, whilst Winn takes inspiration from jazz and Joy Division. Tellum, meanwhile, is a complex and unique drummer, his rhythmically diverse patterns tear up the rulebook ruthlessly, being both militant and mathematical. You simply cannot pair their sound up with that of another band.

Their sound is borne out of experimentation. “Joe comes to me with a progression, I fuck about somewhere on the neck and find something that sounds fitting, I work off him a lot.” The rhythm section are just as driven by experimentation, as Winn explains: “Tellum’s algorithms and mathematics are so technical, the stuff he comes out with is unbelievable, it’s so hard to complement, and you just have to let it be at the forefront.”

It seems the new band environment has been liberating for Joe’s song-writing. “When I was doing my own stuff, it was just lyrics and a single guitar part, but now it’s only the beginning.”

A Festival, A Parade launch A Piece of Meat, An Irregular Heartbeat at The Cluny 2, Newcastle on Saturday 19th March.

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