The Go! Team heads to Riverside, Newcastle this month so Damian Robinson caught up with them to talk about their latest album and what they have coming up in 2018.
Your new album ‘Semicircle’ has been released on the back of some exceptional reviews. For any of our readers yet to check out the album, can you tell us a little bit about it?
This album, ‘Semicircle’, is bigger in scale: there are lots of gang vocals, lots of brass stacked up, steel drums, and glockenspiels. I guess it sounds more like the conventional Go! Team sound but with an emphasis on singing and melody and songs. In some ways, I think it’s the best Go! Team record.
The production of the record really struck me on my first listen. What production techniques do you use to make such unique sounds?
There are certain things I’ll always love: sounds warping and bending, distortion on drums; layering brass which isn’t perfectly in tune with itself so it sounds more exciting; mic-ing things a bit from a distance so it might sound like it’s recorded in a gymnasium; having different production from section to section so it makes it quite schizo and tangent-y; using instruments that are rarely used so you have recorders, steel drums, kalimbas – maybe all of these things make it sound Go! Team-y.
When you receive such strong reviews does it make you anxious, say in how you tour the record, or how you follow it up?
No, I still feel like a cult band as we’re not uniformly loved across the board. I still feel like we’ve got stuff to prove even after 15 odd years.
New single ‘All the Way Live’ sounds fresh, funky and new wave, perhaps with a nod to Talking Heads. Where do you tend to be inspired, and what inspired this track?
I guess, in some ways, it’s the most obviously Go! Team song on the record. It samples the rapping from a 1983 album made as a kind of after-school hip-hop project combined with a chunky brass section. It’s another one of those songs of mine which were written by sticking together about 6 different ideas I have hoarded over the years so you don’t know where the song is going next. The emphasis is always on personality, not perfection.
You’ll be touring the UK soon with a visit to Newcastle. Tell us about how the band will set up to recreate ‘The GO! Team sound’?
There are eight of us on stage these days as we have two lady brass players with us – we’re turning into UB40! I don’t know if it’s going to impact on our thrashing, but we’ll have to see. We always had thrashing based injuries before and they’re about to ramp up.
With so much going on in your records, is recreating the sound live difficult?
We can’t slavishly recreate it as I’d need a seven-piece brass section and a choir – it would get ridiculous! Ninja brings a lot to the live shows and writes her own lyrics for some of it. I think the distorted guitar side of the band is amped up in the live thing and we have two drum kits onstage, so it’s a bit of an assault.
Finally, it’s the start of the year and your record is already out. What’s the plan for this year?
Just to keep thrashing. I guess, subconsciously, I’m into the idea of creating a parallel way of seeing things to counteract all the bollocks around at the moment.
The Go! Team plays Riverside, Newcastle on Friday 16th February. Tickets, priced at £17.60 (including booking fee), are available from seetickets.com.