A Festival, A Parade are dropping their new EP ‘Stay Away From Me’ tomorrow (Friday 26th October) with Newcastle indie faves, Tipping Point Records (pre-order here).
An exploration of alt rock’s varied intricacies via autobiographical tales of change and consequence, it arrives prior to a massive support tour with Sam Fender that'll see them explore venues all over the country this autumn.
Vocalist Joe Allan talks us through his band's new release, which you can also hear in full below, a little early.
‘Cold Shower’ was the first track we wrote from the new body of songs that would go on to form the ‘Stay Away From Me’ EP. For a while, we’d been making music that was full of intricacies and a lot of math-rock sensibilities that can often be a lot to take in. We wanted to make our return to the North East music scene after a long writing break with something that was as bold, pulsating, and loud as possible, and to that end, we made ‘Cold Shower’.
Lyrically, the song is centred around a film noir style villain, who’s on the warpath. In parts, there are some moments in 'Cold Shower' that are transferable to everyday life, and the idea of not being walked over by others, but for the most part, it’s just a song about a twisted baddie on the hunt for revenge. Unlike the majority of our musical output, we had the backbone of this song before we had any lyrics.
The most important thing for us was to make something that was bold and energetic to kickstart the next wave of material for A Festival, A Parade, and we think we’ve succeeded with this track. We open our live show with it at every show we play, and it’s proven to be a very powerful introduction to the band everywhere we go, as well as a local favourite.
‘Pocket Knife’, accidentally, comes hand-in-hand with 'Cold Shower', as it’s another all-guns-blazing moment from us which is centred around an insufferable individual getting their comeuppance, although, unlike 'Cold Shower', this song is actually written about a personal experience of mine. We chose the song title ‘Pocket Knife’ as I’d read somewhere that carrying a pocket knife around is a well-known omen of bad luck, which is what this person used to do.
With this track, we’ve really laid all of our musical influences on the table and covered a lot of bases; there’s big, loud instrumental breaks typical of our favourites Mogwai, interspersed with clusters of brooding vocals influenced by the style of The National (the group that influenced our band name), alongside various bleeps, glitchy samples, and a spoken word piece (performed by John Nellist of NE band ‘Behold A Pale Horse’) reminiscent of Bon Iver’s ’22, A Million’, which we were all obsessed with around the time when we were writing the EP.
Fundamentally, ‘Pocket Knife’ is a dark, energetic rock song, but there’s something for everyone in there. We think the combination of this track and Cold Shower makes a very bold statement, and sets the tone perfectly for the rest of the EP.
This track is my personal favourite on the EP, and possibly the song I’m most proud of out of everything we’ve done so far. This song is a very personal account of the rekindling of a friendship, between two childhood friends that took an unfamiliar turn. It’s basically an unconventional love story, and perhaps our most emotionally driven offering to date, alongside the EP title-track.
The title ’Sex Dream’ stems from an inside joke between me and a colleague, it’s a little misleading, but we stuck with it as we all think it’s kind of funny! Again, it’s another tune that bridges the gap between our mathy, intricate background to a more fast-paced, alt. rock direction. Through working with Paul Gregory (Lanterns On The Lake) on this record, we were lucky enough to be able to experiment with new instruments and textures that we hadn’t previously explored. For example, on ‘Sex Dream’, there’s this beautiful, slightly detuned piano underlay that was recorded on Lanterns’ baby grand, that contributes to our more expansive sound.
We’ve had ‘Sex Dream’ in our live set for a few months now, and it's going down really well, playing it live is both incredibly fun and cathartic. It’s a personal standout on the EP for us, and we think people will really enjoy it.
After a handful of pretty emotionally heavy numbers in the first half of the EP, ‘The Vineyard’ offers a bit of a release for the listener in the form of our most hooky and accessible track to date.
This track was inspired by an extended period of time that Reece (Spencer, guitars) and I spent in Berlin last year, particularly around Weinbergspark, a small park full of greenery hidden in a busy area of Mitte, Berlin. We passed through the park both during the day and at night throughout our stay, and it was amazing seeing an area populated by families having picnics and dog walkers through the day transform into a hangout for young drinkers and creatives. It was crazy seeing the shift from this half-asleep little area full of nature turn into a makeshift nightclub when the sun disappeared.
We embraced both sides of the park; chilled out there through the day and took in the scenery, and sat with a big bag of amazing German cans and listened to LCD Soundsystem there at night. We were blown away by such a small pocket of an enormous city, and the fact that it perfectly embodied the city of Berlin as a whole. So much so, that we were compelled to write a song about it, that chops and changes between dainty and dreamlike, as well as raucous and lively.
It’s about as close as we’ll ever get to coming out with a ‘little ditty’, which also pays tribute to a really special place to the band. People have responded really well to 'The Vineyard' so far after we put it out earlier this month, and we think it works really well within the EP.
I think it’s fair to say, off the back of our influences, that ’Stay Away From Me’ is a song we’ve always wanted to write, but perhaps have been a little scared to in the past. It’s a total clusterfuck (in the most positive sense possible) of emotions and dynamics which bypasses the conventions and expectations of a typical rock song.
Lyrically, the song reads like a bit of a diary entry, written by me in a particularly dark time in my life, which thankfully, I’ve come out the other end of now, but it’s still very important and cathartic for me to get these pretty inward feelings out into the open, in an age where there’s still a bit of a negative stigma among some narrow-minded communities surrounding men talking about their feelings.
As with most of my lyrics (and most of my influences’ lyrics), I use loads of metaphors and ambiguous phrases, with the intention of creating something that anyone can listen to and apply it to their own situation in order to feel something. I think this track does this more-so than anything else we’ve ever put out.
I don’t want to talk about the closing minutes of the EP too much, as we want people to experience it alone, first hand without giving anything away. But, to put it eloquently, it all goes south during the final moments of ‘Stay Away From Me’, and we can’t wait for people to hear it. We feel like it’s a perfect and apt way to bookend the EP, this chapter of the band, and 2018 all in one. We can’t wait for everyone to hear it, and to find out what we’ve got planned for 2019…
A Festival, A Parade's EP 'Stay Away From Me' is out 26th October. They hit the road with Sam Fender from 29th October.