Interviews:: Tom White of Electric Soft Parade


We had the chance to talk to Tom White of the ESP and the Brakes before they jumped back across the pond. SXSW, food poisoning, Buck 65. Like their sound, the interview is all over the map, but very enjoyable.

HH:: Hey, Tom. How’s it going today.
TW:: Not bad not bad.

HH:: We are herohill – were a Canadian based music site.
TW:: Oh really. Where from?

HH:: We are actually from Vancouver and Halifax.
TW:: The singer from our other band, the Brakes, he’s from Canada. You ever hear of Stewart?

HH:: Yeah, its way out there. Not much going on in Stewart.
TW:: Oh I know. He always talks about how they had to dig themselves out when he was a kid. And how they are in a valley and get like three hours of sunlight somedays. It’s crazy.

HH:: Ha ha. Yeah, I’m not sure I could handle that style quite yet. So, let’s talk about SXSW.
TW:: Yeah, let’s get on with this. It was great.

HH:: Aside from the trip down I’d guess? That sounded horrible.
TW:: Oh man. I had no idea people read my fucking blog. But yeah, it was pretty annoying. I missed everything. Just puking. I mean, I missed so many great bands. Sparklehorse. Buck 65.

HH:: Yeah, that’s a shame for sure. So many bands. Buck 65 was one you really wanted to see?
TW:: Oh yeah. We toured with him. He’s an absolute sweetheart, and his records are amazing. So prolific.

HH:: Yeah, he’s from the same area we are from. He used to trade kung fu movies with our buddy. Weird to see him so well known on a global level. So did you at least enjoy the shows? How was the reaction?
TW:: From Nova Scotia. Excellent. Well, SXSW is what it is. It’s totally an industry thing, but our last show at the Seat to Street courtyard was perfect. It really was.

HH:: That’s not bad then. You had some weird lineups – the Watson Twins and Redman? But it’s a great time to win over a lot of fans. So, let’s talk about the new record. The biggest change, you guys were pretty hands on with this. The whole DIY thing. How did you like that experience?
TW:: Well, it was kind of a necessity. We had no money, so it was like if we wanted to make a record, you do it yourself. You decide how lo or hi-fi you want to make it. But we had a good idea of what we wanted to sound like, and we’ve been in enough big studios to know how to fatten things up, little tricks. It was really a test of our playing, which was great. We taught ourselves Pro-Tools in the first week, and then just went from there.

HH:: Well the sound turned out nice. I don’t think you could tell it was made on a shoe string. The sound is pretty tight. But after listening, I have to ask you about the whole writing process? I mean, you go from the dance floor on If That’s the Case to an almost Simon Garfunkle sound on Shore Song. And then it jumps into a radio, summer anthem on Misunderstanding. How do you decide what is making the record?
TW:: That’s the vibe we wanted. Every song to be completely unique. We wanted every structure to be different. We wanted to experiment with different time signatures, but not get too crazy. We weren’t trying for any crazy prog shit, we just wanted turns and to attract a musical ear. So you can listen again and again.

HH:: Well, like I said, it’s all over the place, but it all fits together.
TW:: That's our plan. We want to bring different backgrounds together. Old folk, young folk, hip hop, fucking rock. We wanted it to be diverse, but not too extreme. Like you look at a band like, Deerhoof. You totally have to respect what they are doing, but man, sometimes you have to be a critic to appreciate it. We want to find a place on the radio, connect on a simpler level. We want to be able to communicate with people, and then have them appreciate it on a different level later on.

HH:: So, when you are writing, do you ever think... man, this would be better as a Brakes track?
TW:: No, not really. We don’t write much for the Brakes. It’s Eamon’s sound and songs. We write our parts, but the lyrics and chords are his. I mean, it would have to be that way. It wouldn’t work if we started adding our parts. But just like it would be totally weird for us to scream out in the middle of one of our songs. So we've never really found it hard to separate the two ideas.

HH:: So this record is your first big US release. Was it important to get an audience over on this side of the pond?
TW:: It wasn’t really, until we got here. Like our San Diego show, a few people had the EP, and you look out at 200 people, and you realize how fucking big it really is. So now we want to focus on it. We are thinking of moving here for a couple of months, just touring like crazy, hitting the press. You know, really committing. And we just started working with our label, and they are excellent. They have a real proper thing going on.

HH:: OK. Well that would be solid. Maybe a Northwest date.
TW:: Oh for sure. We will be back.

HH:: So last question. Your sound is obviously influenced by a lot of things. So what really turns you guys on musically?
TW:: Not to sound weird, but everything. Even stuff I don’t always like, I listen to and try to appreciate. I really like things like Mission to Burma. Oh and RTX. It’s the new project from Royal Trux. They are based here in California, and I can’t find the record anywhere. It’s crazy. Like Guns N' Roses, but with 21st digital productions. It’s just really weird rock But Alex is more into underground hip hop, you know like MF Doom, Edan, the whole Def Jux thing. Matt our bass player loves it too, like Aesop Rock. But I’m also interested in muscials and old school comedy, like Hinge and Brackett. That whole musical history of Britain. So really, everything.

MP3:: If That's the Case, Then I Don't Know


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