There’s a new band in town, although they’re quite near the edge of town, apparently. Lounge at the Edge of Town is the latest project by the members of Turin Brakes and Phil Ramocon. It’s Turin Brakes, and it’s not, because it’s many other things as well. This week, we dive deep into the Lounge… Today, we talk to Gale Paridjanian, guitarist extraordinaire of Turin Brakes fame. Read along for his views on the project…
What was it like to work with the Turin Brakes cast, but not as Turin Brakes?
“It was bloody easy and quick . Ed and Rob completely got it straight away and were enthusiastic and riffing with the concept. To be honest, we were aware of the difficulty it was going to have in the future with the TB crossover. We paused and wandered, but they are our go-to music guys as well as friends. The benefits far outweighed the worries. And it was proven in the recording we did.”
It feels like you are paying hommage to various styles of pop music. Eclipse, for example, feels like a James Bond theme song, while Selling the Farm has a very oldschool piano classic vibe to it? Is this something you were aiming for while writing these songs?
“Well, Eclipse came from this riff Phil had at Olly’s, and the rest of the song seemed to just drop out. Olly and I went to the table and pretty much improvised the shape of the verse and lyrics in a couple of minutes. It was very nice for us to be able to turn to Phil and say, for example, ‘we need 2 chords that build into the chorus that Olly can do this to’. And he’d go ‘oh , how about this…’ or like ‘Stevie Wonder would do this’. Anyway, it did start to get BONDy. There was probably something in the press about the new film, and we were aiming high! Plus theres a James Bond poster in Olly’s kitchen! And again, once its BONDy we say ‘Phil, what IS the BOND chord ..?’
“It didn’t start off quite the same but Selling The Farm was a big tip of the hat to Mark Hollis and Phil’s work on Mark Hollis solo album, Colour Of Spring. We did use some references as short hand for getting songs going, I guess. As we were feeling free, we just ran with it, plus there were all the conversations before and after and during writing. Generally, Phil would arrive at mine with at least two bags of strawberries and some kind of Jamaican treat for us to try and we would chat away for ages getting songs up, talking about various notes the singers use, various techniques band used, all the usual music fan stuff. I mean the list of influences would be huge.”
How do you feel the project has been received so far? What were your expectations and is it living up to them?
“In the excitement of whipping the album up on Spotify without having to involve anyone else or schedules and lead up times, I forgot about it not getting reviewed or played anywhere outside of that! But we hope to deal with that a bit after lockdown. Turin Brakes fans seem to really like it, and we’re really thankful for that. And for their ears its probably like a Turin Brakes album out of nowhere with the singer wearing a suit. We did hope that we might be able to reach out to people that perhaps aren’t regular TB fans with this though, we’ll see what happens.”
If you were to organise a gig or tour for this project. What would it look like?
“I would hope that it involves the Hopper character coming on, hopefully on time, being slightly dishevelled and acting like he couldn’t give a monkey’s if people were watching or not. The band would be doing their best to back him up. Drink of choice would be cocktails surely? And anything else he could get his hands on…
How do you feel about this project compared to regular Turin Brakes? Or should we not compare it to Turin Brakes at all?
“Well, for me, it’s lighter… as in I hope to not worry about it too much. The freedom thing with the character that I was saying helps a lot. Maybe let it live free and decide who it wants to become. But there’s also everything that’s influenced Phil on there. He’s a great singer as well and not afraid to sing stuff around for hours, so that is definitely a new element. There’s probably chords in there we wouldn’t normally choose and references we might try harder to hide. As far as compared to Turin Brakes: it doesn’t have a legacy, it doesn’t come from loved albums of acoustic guitar wearing duo-ness, followed by everything that came after. Ideally, it wouldn’t be compared to TB, but that would be impossible.
Do you feel like you are the main driver for this side project with Phil? Or how are the group dynamics in this project?
“I got the sessions started, sent the first email. When it started to go well everyone helped push it along. A lot of Turin Brakes stuff has to start in Olly’s hands or it doesn’t sound like TB. I don’t feel like that with this. Most of this came out of the middle of the room where the 3 of us sat. Anyone could shout out anything and it would change course. And if we didn’t have anything to start with it wouldn’t take long to find something. When Ed and Rob got involved, they were right behind us, riffing away on the idea. I guess I worried that it wouldn’t become anything in the end. I think Rob could sense that I was quite lit up by it so he dived in and got things moving.”
Your guitar work feels a little less prominent compared to the TB setup where it’s on equal footing to Olly’s vocals, if not stealing the spotlight at times. Here it seems to be used very effectively as well, but maybe less prominently. Do you agree with this view? And why did this end up like this?
“Very delicately put! I agree, there’s not much guitar on there. After a month of listening to all recordings I wish I’d gotten all my bits a lot louder but who doesn’t? I thought I would have to stay away from playing slide from the beginning to keep it away from Turin Brakes, and no acoustic guitar solos for the same reason. This leaves me playing along in the background. I was kind of getting my satisfaction from all the other bits coming together. There’s also this thing that if I’m engineering or pressing the Record button, I kinda can’t deal too well with getting deep with the guitar on the demo.”
What is your favourite song on the album? And why?
“Today it would be Bad Dreams or I Know The Day . Bad Dreams is fun and care free. And I Know The Day turned out really good, all up for it and big.”
Would you be interested in playing any of these songs live as part of Turin Brakes shows?
“I was hoping we could keep the two things separate in some way, but maybe that might be the only way we can play these songs in the end.”
What’s next for Lounge? Are there plans for future shows or releases? Or is this a one-off thing?
“At the moment it’s getting a physical release and hopefully a bit of attention after the whole lockdown thing. It would be good to do at least one show with it to mark its existence, hopefully at Wembley Arena or a stadium, don’t mind which.”
Do you think this project is having any influence on the Turin Brakes project?
“I think everything we do in and around Turin Brakes helps ‘the Turin Brakes project’. I mean TB isn’t hiding behind any veneer usually, and that’s the point of it. It’s not conceived, it’s honest, but this will at least give us references to talk about when doing TB. I imagine it will stop us making a Turin Brakes lounge album anytime soon. But wait, didn’t we just do that?….
Thanks to Gale for answering our questions. Stay tuned to Ether Site for the Ether Site review of Lounge At The Edge of Town!