PARLOUR TRICKS are one of my favorite local New York City bands. They have been since I moved here three years ago to work in music and help fans discover bands like them. They’ve just got that ability to get their unique sound and confident presence out there for fans to enjoy like few others can. So obviously Pancakes & Whiskey was stoked when they agreed to come on and do a Whiskey Session for one of their newer singles ‘The Storm’.
Lily, Angelo, Brian, and Darah were also kind enough to stick around for a while and talk about what their unique sound is all about, recording new material/re-arranging old material down in Nashville, and which one of them is the worst roommate when they’re away from home.
P&W: How’s your CMJ week going?
Lily: Great. I think this is my favorite, it’s definitely our lightest CMJ as far as things we need to do and it feels great.
P&W: You changed the band’s name to just ‘PARLOUR TRICKS’ and got rid of the ‘Lily’ part.
Lily: Yup, I left. Then came back as someone else (laughs)
P&W: Why the name change?
Lily: It’s really that’s how we refer to ourselves, and that’s how other people refer to us. It just felt like a natural move for us… the most anti-climactic name change ever. Most people haven’t event noticed really.
P&W: No one’s rioted over the change yet?
Lily: No some people have asked me after seeing us all perform a show if I’ve left the band, which is interesting haha it’s like “am I not here??”
P&W: Now you guys have released a few singles in the past year, ‘Love Songs’ and ‘Belle Gunness’, is that the plan you guys are going for right now or is it just something to give fans between albums?
Lily: We’re releasing things slowly and strategically and ultimately we would love and plan to put out an EP or an album. Finding the right timing and the right way to package it is something that is coming right along with us.
Brian: We spent the better part of 2013 recording a lot of material, and something that we’ve noticed is that once you release something, no matter if it’s one song or thirteen songs, the immediate question is what’s next? So we just spent a year working on these songs and if we released them all at once we’d have to go right back into the studio.
Lily: Really the feeling of releasing one song at a time has been really refreshing and it’s been great getting a good response from people who actually listen to the song. It seems like these days people will put out the EP and fans will listen to the thirty seconds of each song on iTunes, but don’t actually listen to a full song. With singles I feel like people can take three minutes to listen to a song, since that’s the only one available. It’s really special. We’re going to keep doing that for a minute then next year we’re gonna release something larger. We don’t want to blow this particular load just yet!
Brian: We’re saving this load, for the right time.
Lily: Sorry I can’t talk in public. That’s why I’m not in the band anymore right??
P&W: You’ve changed the way you perform some of your older material and your newer songs in the sense that you’ve sped up some tempos, you’ve added a drum machine to the arsenal, Brian uses synth machines on some songs- It’s certainly a different sound than the more Americana/roots sounds you guys started the band with. What brought about that change?
Brian: I think it’s the recording process that we went through. We got hooked up with a producer in Nashville, this guy named Emery Dobyns, who’s amazing. I think he saw an opportunity in us to take where we were at with a very raw sound with heavily distorted guitars and much more on the rock side of the spectrum with the powerful three-part harmonies on top, and to add a few more modern, electronic elements like a synthesizer and drum pad. He helped us turn our sound into something really different as opposed to just a rock band with three part harmonies. We’re happy that we took a lot of risks in the studio, got way outside of our comfort zone with pretty much every song, and really pushed ourselves to do something different.
Lily: I think where we were at the time starting to work with Emery about a year ago; we were so ready for something, where we all felt like we were teetering. We didn’t exactly know what it was but we were a little tired of what we were doing and knew something wasn’t sitting right internally and wasn’t sure what it was. Then by sheer happenstance we got hooked up with Emery and it opened up possibilities that we would not have known hot to get to on our own.
P&W: How long were you in Nashville working?
Lily: We’ve gone about four times to work with him for ten-day stretches.
P&W: Do you feel getting out of the city and going down to Nashville brought out little intricacies and bits of songs you worked on down there that you would not have gotten working here in the New York? Was there any sense that your music became a product of the Nashville environment?
Angelo: I think we could feel Nashville’s pace, but it was more like us being more on a retreat- living in a house together and avoiding New York’s energy, going with the slower pace of Nashville, which is still really vibrant. There’s less stress on us down there to get things done.
Lily: Living together was another factor. We always rent a house when we’re there.
P&W: Who’s the worst roommate?
Fingers begin to point to Brian, as his self-esteem begins to lower.
Lily: Just kidding! Haha but he sleepwalks.
Brian: Yeah I sleepwalk like a crazy person
P&W: Is it a Weekend at Bernie’s kind of sleepwalk?
Brian: No I’m actually really fast and athletic when it happens
Angelo: Last time he was playing a keyboard that wasn’t plugged in
Lily: Although Angelo has stuffed materials of the house in my suitcase before that I’ve almost accidentally brought home. Brian’s definitely the worst though.
Angelo: It’s not his fault
Lily: Often he’ll be dreaming and he’ll just get out of bed, put his clothes on, get his keys…
P&W: Well it’s bad form to sleepwalk in your underwear
Brian: I gotta look good either way! I’m trying to do a thing here.
P&W: Do you guys feel that you’ve carved out a niche fit into the LES/Williamsburg music scene, while still finding a way to stand out?
Brian: It’s so bloated here with types of music. It’s so oversaturated with so many genres and everyone’s trying to stand out. So I don’t know if we’re standing out any more than anyone else. It almost makes you ask what the Brooklyn sound even is, because there’s not, there’s just too much of everything.
Darah: To say yes to your question- the idea of how we’ve evolved with the sort of evolved with the more modern elements we incorporated, it seems like the LES scene is in general a synthesized sound. Yes it’s kind of bloated but I think we still fit in that pocket.
Brian: Angelo said once that we tried to make a pop album a kind of failed, but we ended up with the product that we’re happy with. This new music is our attempt at catchy pop songs. I don’t think they’re radio pop, but it’s still cool.
Darah: We’re not trying to do anything we’re or inaccessible.
Angelo: Working with Emery, he gave us license to do what we wanted to do in our guts.
Lily: Like the gatekeeper in allowing us to really try what we wanted.
P&W: So what’s the plan for the next six to eight months?
Angelo: Hopefully we’ll do more videos like the one that just came out for ‘Love Songs’.
Brian: Yeah the videos are getting to be really fun, I think we’re getting into a good flow with those.
P&W: Do you think you’ll ever do a ten-part ‘Trapped In A Closet’ R. Kelly kind of video?
Angelo: That’s a really good idea… thank you.
Brian: You have no idea how much R. Kelly influences what we do.
P&W: Like just make a ten-part video to ‘Love Songs’ and just keep adding random verses and themes that had nothing to do with the original song concept.. maybe even add Brian’s sleepwalking in there.
P&W: You’re playing the Buzzchips/MyFreeConcert showcase tonight at the new Living Room, excited to see anyone on the bill with you?
Lily: We are. We’ve actually got a lot of friends on the bill so it should be fun.
P&W: Have you seen the new venue yet??
Lily: Yeah, I love the unfinished look to it, which may not be on purpose but still pretty cool.
P&W: The ‘Love Songs’ video came out a week ago, what was the concept behind it?
Brian: It was pretty collective. We had a proper meeting about it and pounded it out during two days off in Nashville for some ideas to flow.
Lily: We wanted naked, green screen, body paint, singing…
Angelo: And Brady Bunch
Lily: Yup! Brady Bunch as well. Actually the AirBnB house we stayed in just happened to have a bunch of green screen, clamp lamps, and camera equipment in their closet!
Darah: They’re definitely making some movies in that house
P&W: Already in the house? What are they filming there??
Angelo: Probably softcore porn with outer space backgrounds
Article by: Tom Shackleford
Video: Gabello Studios