On Tuesday 6th December, Theme Park return to Birmingham for the first time in several years – and they’re armed with brand new material from their forthcoming record. We fired some quick questions at them about their musical journey so far and memories of Birmingham…
You’ve been in the game for quite a few years, what have you learnt about music and songwriting along the way?
Oscar: I’ve learned that it’s most enjoyable to look for what’s good in all kinds of music. I never thought I’d like a country song until someone played me ’Til I Get It Right’ by Tammy Wynette, and it was like ‘ah!’. I think it’s best to tread that line between being a snob and a yes-man; to try and be a generous critic. As for songwriting, I’d say be patient if an idea deserves it. A good song might take 30 minutes to write, it might take 3 months.
Who would you say have been your musical influences from the very beginning?
O: Two who spring to mind are Talking Heads and LCD Soundsystem. Two groups who don’t seem hamstrung by genre or taking themselves too seriously. I mean, they’re clearly seriously great musicians! But it sounds like they’re having fun, and that’s fun to listen to.
There’s a noticeable, more static and vintage vibe to your new music, would you say there’s a particular reason for this?
O: That’s an interesting one! I guess there’s a complex interaction between your tastes and ‘modern’ trends. Some days you might want to make a song that sounds hyper modern and some days you want to make something warm and old sounding. I certainly like the post-modern quality to parts of Frank Ocean’s new album, or say, the Whitney record. That album was lovely.
How would you describe the creative process you’ve undergone whilst recording your new album?
O: It would start with a hook usually, then we’d build the architecture of a song around it. We’d take the demos to Fryars, track intensively, and he’d weave his magic on the production, sometimes completely changing the vibe of the song. That’s the beauty of collaboration – it can throw a whole new light on an idea. After that we’d work on the recordings at our home studio. In a way the process was fairly continuous. Until you’ve signed off on them, the songs are always floating around your consciousness.
Has it changed or evolved since ‘Theme Park’ was released?
Marcus: We’re more varied now in how we start a song. And we’ve got more stuff to play with in our studio too. But in essence it’s still one of us comes around with an idea for a song or a melody or a riff, and then if we like it we all thrash it out from there.
What advice that you would give to younger bands?
M: It seems weird giving advice to younger bands as i feel so far from being a wise musician. But what I’ve learned in terms of writing music is, I think to relax and enjoy yourself, and although it sounds obvious, to write music you’d want to hear. If that’s what someone else wants to hear then that’s a nice feeling, and if it’s not then you still like listening to it!
In light of your upcoming UK tour, what’s your favourite kind of venue to play, and in which city?
M: I like venues that have a great Feng Shui! a great layout. We played a venue called La Maroquinerie in Paris, that had a lovely symmetrical feel, and raised areas around the edge. It was like playing in an amphitheater. that was cool. I enjoy being far from home, I feel like the further away you are from where people know you the more you can be yourself on stage.
Do you have any particular memories from Birmingham, any favourite shows you’ve played or places you like to go?
M: I remember last time we played in Birmingham we’d been on tour for quite a while and I popped to the Bullring to buy some new boxers, which had loads and loads of shops, and I bumped into four guys who were like “you’re in theme park, we’re coming to your gig tonight”. And we had a nice chat.
Catch Theme Park at the Hare & Hounds in Kings Heath, Birmingham on Tuesday 6th December in a show presented by Counteract. Tickets are available with no booking fees through Dice.fm.