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Interviews Andy Parle - February 1997 - The Tufts DailyAlexis Rivera
Brit Pop is dead, or so says Blur's Damon Albarn. With Blur's new single from their upcoming album sounding like a lost Nirvana track; Oasis' Noel Gallagher doing vocals on the Chemical Brothers' Setting Sun EP; and a host of British techno and trip-hop bands garnering attention on both sides of the Atlantic, it certainly seems like Brit Pop, or the sound that has become associated with bands like Blur and Oasis, is dead.
One band willfully backing that statement is Space, a Liverpool four-piece whose quirky debut album Spiders has stayed at the top of the British charts and is now doing well here, due in large part to the single "Female of the Species."
Space, now together for over three years, is embarking on a two-month American tour. Because of the success of "Female," the tour was lengthened, an event that surprised Andy Parle, Space's drummer. "I'm really surprised about the States, because to be honest with you I really thought we wouldn't appeal to America," says Parle, in anticipation of the band's show tonight at Bill's Bar. "Especially with that grunge thing, and stuff like that. I really didn't think we'd have a chance."
He said that success hasn't been limited to the States, however. "We've done quite well in the UK, had some singles, did some tours. And in Asia, we're especially known. Spiders is doing well there, or so I'm told."
Space has a varied sound, and influences like Black Grape and Frank Sinatra come to mind, but Parle says Space's members have other eclectic tastes. Keyboardist Francis Griffiths listens solely to techno, singer/bassist Tommy Scott is open to anything, and guitarist Jamie Murphy's the same, "a mixed bag, he likes stuff from Led Zeppelin up to the Prodigy." As for Parle, he's a fan of British trip-hop artists like Tricky and Portishead. "That's where I get most of the ideas for my beats from. Tricky's new album [Pre-Millennium Tension] is brilliant; it's never left my CD player."
Parle proceeded to comment on the wave of new British retro bands, whose sound is dull and unoriginal beyond belief. "I don't like them, bands like Ocean Colour Scene. It's retro, but a sad retro, isn't it? Don't get me wrong, I've got albums of the Small Faces, but that doesn't mean I'm ever going to emulate that, or want to -- those were good albums for what they were at the time."
Although the Beatles' two new songs from their Anthology series were standard fare, Parle believes that if the Beatles were currently a young band, their sound would be very different. "If the Beatles were going today, I think they'd probably sound like the Prodigy. If you look at the Beatles' first album to their last one, they were all different, they moved with the times. That's why when I hear people now trying to copy their sound, I feel quite sad really. That's why I turn to people like Tricky, because he's trying to break new ground all the time."
Refocusing on his own band's music, Parle discussed Space's insistence on recording B-sides, a practice foreign to many commercially-focused American bands but popular with British groups. "When we release something, especially off the album, we know people are going to have that track from the album, and just putting that track out with a new mix of it, we think that's a bit of cheating," he says in his thick Liverpool accent. "So what we always do if we're taking a track off the album, we go back in the studio and do two or three B-sides."
Remembering his youth, Parle voiced his approval of B-sides. "When I was a kid, buying punk records, I always used to look forward to the B-sides, because you'd always hear the A-side on the radio anyway."
When asked how a British band can make it big in America, Parle's response, although humorous, was also dead-on. "How? I don't know. It's like the Sixty-Four Thousand Dollar Question, probably Billion Dollar Question. The best way I see is to be original, different, talented, willing to tour. For us, we never wanted to be like the other Brit Pop bands; it's never been a contrived thing. I don't see any Brit Pop bands who'll make it big here at the moment. Obviously, we're over here, and we're going to need a lot of luck, and hopefully we can. God knows, it's a big place."
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