We first knew of Michael Parrett as a member of fellow UK beat brother Paul Orwell’s band, The Nightfalls. He seemed a
likeable enough lad and a top guitar player to boot, so when we found out that he had started to record his as-yet-unfinished debut album, with Paul Orwell in the producers seat, we couldn’t
resist the chance to listen to some of the new songs. His first single, "Money Loving Hippie" , has influences flowing fast on the Michael Parrett train – from Marc Bolan, Ray Davies to bla bla
bla – comparisons and name-drops become irrelevant once you realize you are also listening to something, and someone, who digs the journey they're on. We've had the privilege of hearing 5
songs from the sessions so far and what a killer bunch of tunes they are.
The 21st Century "new wave" of musicians is a focused, often mop-topped, breed where the musician is the
songwriter, co-producer, manager and tax evader – where the musician organizes their own release, video, artwork, their own press, and often their own venue and tour. It’s an age where the
Musician can again say what they want to say – because there is no giant corporation left who cares enough about music (or the threat of it meaning something) to print what a non-illuminati'd
musician says anyway (or is that what twitter is meant for?). It’s an age, nay, an epoch (yes we just said “nay” and “epoch” in the same sentence) ripe for British music to enter a new season.
Sound the evolution!
But, as Chilean poet Pablo Neruda once said, a philosopher looks foolish standing under a volcano – so it’s time for us to stand back, and time for you to press play on the music of Michael Parrett… let the new wave roll on… and the volcano churn...
Were the songs for the album written and built up over a period of time – or were they “hot off the emotional press?”
Ha! Well it’s bit of both actually. I tend to write songs in batches so I’ll write 4 or 5 in a week and then spend ages trying to force something that just isn’t working! These songs have come from a range of emotions. There’s a lot of sadness and anger in there, I get wound up by how society is going. It frustrates me how people don’t engage their brains anymore and are just looking for their 15 minutes of fame. Kids are spoon fed so much information and don’t know what they’re supposed to be. Adults too, actually. In the 60’s, 70’s , 80’s and even 90’s people were always fighting for something. There were counter cultures and movements and they were important and they shaped and defined decades. What’s happened since the turn of the millennium? Look around, everyone’s staring into their smart phones and ranting, but not actually doing anything. Yeah well done mate you’ve singed a petition.
Where were the songs for the album recorded?
The songs were/are being recorded at my friend Paul’s studio. He produces and arranges the songs and we work really well together.
Do you have a name for the album yet – inspirations or contenders?
I’ve got loads of ideas knocking about but first and foremost I’m trying to make the best album I can, that’s the most important thing. I don’t think spending too much time trying to think of an album title is a good idea. The content is what matters. But there is also songs of happiness on there! I ain’t that much of a miserable sod ;) I also write when I’m in love, when I’m happy. I write about personal battles. There’s a range of emotion, I like to think there’s a lot of hope on the record.
What was it like being produced by Paul Orwell compared to playing together in the Nightfalls?
We’ll sit down, listen to a load of obscure 60’s vinyls, open a bottle of JD, smoke a thousand cigarettes and chill the f**k out. Then we’ll listen to The Beatles, then I’ll play a bunch of my songs on an acoustic and they’ll all sound sh*t cos we’ve just listened to The Beatles!!! Hahaha. But in all seriousness though, Paul’s a genius. In my opinion he’s one of the best producers in the UK at the moment and the fact he does it all in his tiny studio in Essex is amazing and a testament to the talent he has. He brings my songs to life and gives them colour. It’s so much fun to record with him and I think he’d agree with me when I say that apart from being on stage it’s when we’re loving life the most. Playing together with The Nightfalls is obviously a lot different to recording, not only do we do Paul’s solo songs, he also brings great ideas for covers. Never your obvious cover choices, but they seem to just work. Paul, Charlie (the drummer) are always having a giggle, and we can’t wait to get back out on the live scene. Paul and I also have a long time joint project called ‘Victims’ that we haven’t got off the ground yet. So many ideas, so little time!
What are your plans for a tour of the UK? Do you have a band lined up for any future live gigs?
Currently my plans revolve around finishing the album and getting the next couple of videos out there. I’m shooting the video for ‘Chequebook Charlie’ in late April so that should be out end of May. Ideally a label would put a single out on vinyl to support the track, I’ve had quite a few people contact me asking when MLH is out on vinyl but unfortunately I can’t tell them! It will happen though. After another couple of video releases and an official release or two I will be ready to drop the album. How this will happen is not yet clear, I’ll either self-fund it or work with a label. Either way it will be out before 2017. Unfortunately there are no plans for live shows at the moment, but that might change. We could basically just re-jig the Nightfalls/The Shoots, keep the same personnel and do my tunes. There’s a group of us, including The Shoots vocalist Lord Essien who are all friends and love the same music and fortunately can play a bit too.
Ray Davies wrote about Well Respected Men, Damon Albarn wrote about Charmless Men and now Michael Parrett has written
about Money Loving Hippies… Someone call an Oxford Professor with a scowl – & see if he can find Darwinian evidence of an inherent gene in the English songwriter that likes to poke ironic
pins in the eyes of hypocrisy.
Where did the idea for Money Loving Hippy come
Funnily enough a friend just come out with the term one day in passing and it amused me. I made a mental note of it and thought it would make good subject content for a song at some point. It was about 6 months later when I was throwing some chords together playing some 12 bar blues that it came back to me and the rest is history. The whole thing didn’t take long to write at all, I knew what I wanted to say and the melody seemed to fall into place naturally. It’s basically a song that sets about those people that always have so much to say without actually saying anything at all. The people that jump on bandwagons, that pretend to be into love and helping each other – but ultimately are only out for themselves. The hipsters. You know the types I’m talking about… They’ve got no imagination!
Did you discover any good 60s inspired music (either old or new) while you were in the Mediterranean recently?
Well I did try! I went into a record shop in Verona and asked the bloke in there for obscure 60’s Italian bands but he just
directed me to all this prog stuff and prog ain’t really my bag. Everything else was pretty standard. I did discover a cool record when I was out in Germany though. I was wandering around
Munich and found a record shop and saw a record called Beat 69 by John Deen and The Trakk and took a chance on it. There’s a few really great tracks on it. Check out the song ‘I’ll Show you’,
it’s got a whopping 6 views on YouTube so you know it’s good! Or if you want something pretty psychey then their track ‘Man’ is pretty cool (and weird).
What thoughts do you have about the music being made in the UK at the moment? What inspires and what deflates?
Well from what I hear the charts are absolutely tragic. It’s all ‘Rapper X Ft. Slutty bird’ and suchlike. It all just sounds like someone’s building a shed. Then you have this new trend of taking a classic rock song and covering it on a piano with what sounds like a 6 year old girl singing it. Mental. What’s that all about? The corporate nature of the music industry has really killed it and saturated the market. It means that genuinely talented songwriters and bands don’t get the exposure they deserve. You’ve got X-Factor and The Voice, and people lap this stuff up because they don’t use their brains anymore. They get this stuff rammed down their throats every Saturday night and they think that’s the best on offer. Fortunately the internet does have it's plus points (even though it’s meant making any money out of music is now nigh on impossible). It allows for music lovers to search out the type of music they love and that’s a really great thing. It’s kinda difficult to say what inspires me in the UK scene at the moment as I don’t listen to much new music at all... Recently I’ve been on an absolute freakbeat binge!
So there is some of the in’s and out’s with Michael Parrett – Voicin’ on the voice, Xing out the X factor and freaking on the beat binge. The British music volcano rumbles on in the distance - ready to erupt with the tune of a dial. Stand back.