FAULT Magazine Online interviews the electric ‘Parlour Tricks’




FAULT: Let’s start at the beginning. Where did you all meet, how did the band come together and what made Parlour Tricks into the band that it is today? 

Parlour Tricks: We met in college. I had started writing songs suddenly and was curious to know if they were any good, and what they’d sound like with a full band. So I started playing with my friends Terry, Brian and Angelo. We played some truly awful gigs around the city. Everyone does that; its the ritual sacrifice of becoming a band.  After a few months I realized that I was writing every song with three-part harmony in mind, and after some well-intentioned attempts by the guys to sing, we knew we had to add two more people. Chicks.  I wanted women’s voices. The addition of Morgane and DeeDee, two singers whose voices I’d admired at school, was the game-changer.  I consider their entrance into the band as the real Beginning.


You used call yourselves “Lily & The Parlour Tricks” and now you’ve gone for a shorter moniker. What was the reason behind that?

Mostly practical. “Lily & The Parlour Tricks” is a mouthful. Whenever we’d say it to someone, they’d ask us to repeat ourselves.  Also we found that bookers were very quick to put us on the same bill as other “[Girl’s Name] & The [Band Name]” bands, even if we didn’t fit together musically. I bet a lot of them didn’t even listen to us, they just assumed what we sounded like based on our name. We were being pigeonholed. It was tiresome.


You just released your debut album Broken Hearts/ Bones in June. How much time did you spend working on it? How far back do some of these songs go? 

It took about a year and a half, but when we started we didn’t know it was going to be an album. We were making some demos for a record label we’d been in development with. We had no idea of the relationship we’d end up creating with our producer (Emery Dobyns) or the connection we’d have with Nashville, where we’d been sent to record. After the development deal fell through, we kept going. Over the course of 2014 we went back 5 times, often with songs I’d just written which we’d never played together before.  Only a few of them had been with us for a while, like “Little Angel”. The rest were pretty new, or newly re-arranged. Many of them were written after I got a phone call from Angelo a few days before we were set to leave for Nashville – he’d call and dare me to have a new song done before we left. I worked well under pressure. We got three or four songs that way, including the title track.


Now that it’s been a while since the release and you’ve had time to let everything sink in, do you feel contempt with the overall response that you’ve had from the people that listened to your album? Do you feel that they’ve taken away from your record what you aimed to put out there in the first place? 

Contempt?  No, never.  We’re pretty honest with ourselves about this business and about managing our own expectations.  We didn’t aim to put anything out there but music we think – we hope – is listenable. I know that sounds like humble bullshit, but it is that simple. We weren’t trying to make a larger statement or anything.  I loved writing these songs. We love playing these songs. We’re proud of our work and also acutely aware of the fact that this is our first offering – it’s just the beginning.   We want people to take from this record what they will. Whether they love it or hate it, whether they like two songs and could toss the rest; that’s all OK by me.  But the reaction has been good, so far.  We can’t wait to release it in the UK.


How much input do you have on your visuals? Lovesongs and Requiem are old videos of yours, but could you tell us a bit about their backstories?

We had all the input since we made both videos by ourselves.  “Requiem” was shot in Nashville. We’d drive around in the mornings before going to the studio, pick a random spot in the city, set up a camera on a tripod and do this dance that Angelo and Brian had “choreographed”  backstage at a show once when they were bored. It started as a dance video, but quickly devolved into a learn-to-dance video when we realized we weren’t the best dancers… We sent the footage to be edited by our friends at Afloat Design Group and they added the magic.   “Lovesongs” was also shot in Nashville a few months later. The concept was looser; aliens doing karaoke? For better or worse I think that’s the best way to describe it.  We borrowed a green screen and some lights, got some body paint, stripped and just rolled with it. Didn’t think too much. Sent the footage to Afloat again and they made it so pretty.   We have new videos in the works that we can’t wait to share. They will be very different than the last two.


Do you find it easier or more difficult being in a 6 piece band as opposed to the usual 3-4 members? Like how’s your songwriting process when you have to brainstorm with 6 other people? 

I’ve never been in a band with 3-4 members so I couldn’t say. We’re an easy group of people. We all know and respect our roles.   I’m the songwriter; its my responsibility to have the songs mostly finished when I bring them to the other five members. Together we take as much time as needed to flesh out the arrangements, and some songs take more time than others.  But it’s never contentious or anything. We try stuff, we listen to each other, we’re honest when we disagree. At the end of the day if we can’t reach a democratic decision, I make the final call.   Had we not been set up like this from the get-go maybe it would be more frustrating, but as it is we’re pretty lucky. We work well together.  If it wasn’t fun, we wouldn’t do it.


What do you feel are some of your most prominent music influences that you can also deduct quite easily from the record itself? 

While we were recording we were listening to a lot of Francis & The Lights, Chance the Rapper, Kanye West, St Vincent, and The Chordettes song “Mr. Sandman” on repeat


If you could have the opportunity to collaborate with any musician/songwriter/producer or creative of any kind, whom would you go for and for which reasons? 

Brian Wilson as producer. There is no greater wizard when it comes to vocal harmony.


You’ve got an upcoming London show at Birthdays. What can we expect from it? Do you feel that your album can be translated smoothly into a live show? 

Yes!   The music from the album translates easily but we approach it a little differently. We’ve been playing live so much longer than we’ve been recording. There’s a lot of raucousness onstage that you just sometimes can’t get across in a record, and that area is our comfort zone.  It’s sweaty and loud and fun.  Making our audiences dance is of paramount importance.   We can’t wait to play in London. See you there.


What’s your FAULT? 

My one-and-a-half year old nephew knows how to say “Elvis”.


Words: Adina Ilie