By BEN SLOAN – Wednesday, February 5, 2003
Source: Metro (UK)
60 SECONDS EXTRA: Gale Paridjanian is one half – along with Olly Knights – of Turin Brakes. Their debut album, The Optimist LP, was seen as part of the equally lauded and loathed ‘new acoustic movement’ and was nominated for the Mercury Music Prize in 2001. Their new album Ether Song is out next month.
METRO CAF’ EXTRA: I stood next to Olly on the Tube a couple of weeks ago and probably did a very obvious double-take. Do you ever get recognised?
Olly gets recognised a lot more than me. I do sometimes but he gets it once a week. It’s usually when you’re doing your shopping or something. I was recognised in a swimming pool changing room once, which scared me almost shitless. I was totally naked and this guy comes over, as they usually do: ‘You.. er.. are you.. er, I don’t want to be rude – you’re in that band Turin Brakes, aren’t you? I love your album, my girlfriend loves your album, we listen to it all the time.’ And I’m like: ‘OK, thanks, can I put my pants on?’
Are you doing a lot of these interviews today?
Not too many. We’re going to get our photos taken this afternoon, which will be lots of fun.
Do you like all that?
Erm, I’m learning to deal with it. When it first happens, you react to it pretty badly because suddenly you’ve got so much attention from people and they’re writing down what you say and taking photos of you and it feels completely out of your control, but we’ve learned to just turn off. It’s part of the job; you just try to enjoy it if you can and not let it break you down.
Do you remember the first time you met Olly at primary school?
I don’t, because Olly joined a little bit later on. I remember there was this new boy on the other side of the room who was quiet and eventually we were friends. He’s claiming these days that he remembers me because I was surrounded by girls and that’s why he became my friend, but I doubt it’s true.
It makes you look good though.
Yeah, when I was nine. That’s when I was at my peak and it’s been downhill ever since.
When Olly went to film school, you went to Canada. What prompted that?
I was actually playing in a Canadian band that was living in London, and they decided to move to Canada and all things pointed to me moving out of here. My girlfriend had left me and I was working in a rubbish job. In a way, it was a kind of catalyst because it meant Olly and I made loads of recordings to listen to while we were away. And it was those tapes that eventually fell into the hands of Anvil records and became our first EP. Because there was this deadline, we desperately wanted to finish a 90-minute tape of our songs – not for anyone to listen to, just for ourselves.
What’s the first thing to cross your mind if I say ‘new acoustic movement’?
[Affects demonic voice] Evil.
Did you resent being lumped in with that scene?
In a way, because we were just making our record and, when we put it out, people said: ‘Oh, you sound just like all these other bands around at the moment.’ We didn’t think we did sound like them, even though they were good. There was no big bond between us. We quietly, confidently knew there was more to us than just acoustic guitars. In a way, it helped as we featured in a few articles.
You’re a lot more rocky live. Is that a conscious decision to rebel against that tag?
No, that’s the joy of having our band behind us. When you go on tour, you just end up rocking. We never tried to be anti-rock, we just did what came naturally, playing a bit harder and faster when we did it live.
Why are you doing the ‘JD Set’ for an audience of only 100?
It’s a perfect warm-up before our UK tour, and a great chance to become intimate with a handful of our fans.
Is the new album more electronic than the first?
Yeah, we wanted to expand a lot on the sonic side of making an album.
What made you choose Tony Hoffer [Air, Beck] as producer?
We were listening to that Air album [10,000Hz Legend] a lot and wondering how they did the stuff on it. Tony was in town, but we didn’t want to work with a producer. We thought: ‘He’s American; he’ll be a big guy with rings and cigars,’ but we went to meet him and he was just like us. He understood what we were saying and we understood what he was saying. We thought: ‘This could be the guy who can help us out.’
Did you start off on acoustic guitars as kids?
No, they were electric guitars. Olly’s dad used to play Chuck Berry while he was driving us around, so we thought we’d get guitars, and our folks thought it would be a good thing to have us playing instruments. Our guitars were as close as we could get to Chuck Berry. I had a nasty little Stratocaster and Olly had a little Flying-V.
Did you graduate through the series of teenage bands?
I did. I got the impression that our group of friends who played music together, including Olly, would never get to do a gig, so I joined a bunch of bands through the NME and played with them just to get some experience. Olly and I did a lot of punk recording when we were nine years old.
Did you have awful teenage names for the bands?
We did, actually. One was called The Beyond and I think The Beyond had a song called MAD – Mutually Assured Destruction.
Do the pair of you like the same music or does your music come from the fact you like different things?
In general, we don’t listen to exactly the same stuff all the time, but there’s a thread in the music that we do listen to. There have been times I’ve got a new record and told him it’s brilliant and he says: ‘I don’t like it.’ Then when I’ve explained to him why I think it’s brilliant, he listens to it in a new light and then he understands it.
Is it like a relationship?
What, like boyfriend-girlfriend?
Yeah, but without the sex..
Erm, I guess it’s more like a brother relationship. We barely notice each other when we’re around. We spend a huge amount of time with each other. But hopefully it’ll develop into something quite sweet and saucy later on. I’ve got my eye on him.
Has the name Turin Brakes any significance?
No. It’s two completely unrelated words strung together to create a third meaning. At first, we hated the idea of it, it didn’t make any sense to us while we were thinking of our own rubbish names. A month later, it was the only name that had stuck, so we hoped it would mean the music eventually.
Turin Brakes play the exclusive Jack Daniel’s ‘JD Set’ to 100 competition winners, whom they’ll hang out with afterwards, on Feb 15 in Edinburgh. To be entered in a lucky dip for a pair of tickets, e-mail your name to firstname.lastname@example.org, putting ‘Turin Brakes’ in the subject box. Entrants must be aged over 18.