Having found the business of dishing out flyers in a former life as the band Djanglearbra not as effective as they would like the business of marketing to be, Athletes in Paris struck upon a novel way of bringing their music to the masses of the north east by simply turning up unexpectedly anywhere and giving it six large. And I mean like anywhere.
“We play more parties than solid gigs you know,” says Matt, lead singer and guitarist. “We go to some parties where we don’t know the people and just surprise them. We go to some parties where we know the people but surprise them with music. It’s about going to the people.”
So, whether it’s at a gig, house party or college dorm, on a bus, train, street corner or shopping centre, AIP are more than happy to give it some welly in any kind of setting or space. This has led some memorable and unreal experiences, like the one time they entertained just four women in a bedroom. A few tracks later, back outside, the feeling was unanimous: what the fuck had just happened?
AIP are made up of four local lads – Matt, Ross, Joakim and Mooch – and a Scottish chap called Chris. I ask whereabouts exactly in Scotland he’s from.
“Grangemouth,” he says.
I shake my head as if to say I don’t know.
“Falkirk,” he continues. Still nothing. “Stirling, Edinburgh, Glasgow!”
Everyone bursts out laughing. This air of joviality is typical of the rest of the interview, good-humoured, free-flowing and littered witty interjections and funny little slights: “Athletes like Dolly Parton!” – made in reference to Chris liking a bit of country music; “Little Comets were the reason we formed!” – the problems of being misquoted; and when asked if the music making process is democratic, courtesy of Joakim: “About as democratic as the Democratic Republic of China!”
AIP are, as you might have gathered, an irreverent group of individuals who give off a cheery air of youthful tomfoolery. They not only like to have a good time making and playing music, but in partying too, which is, in some ways, equal to their artistic motivations. The glass here is always half full.
“It’s the fear of being 40 and not feeling like you gave it your all at least once in your life. That way you’ll have no regrets. We think we have potential after all. There’s nothing worse than not taking that ride and seeing what happens.”
“Exactly,” adds Ross the drummer, “We’re in our mid-twenties now and we see this as a chance to do something. I don’t want to look back later on in life and be bitter and twisted for not trying.”
Their sound is demonstrative of their bubbly nature, though I can only base this observation on what they’ve told me and the one single I’ve seen them perform. That song is Borrowed Time, a typically catchy pop tune underpinned with a funky edge melody, Latin-infused shakers and dance inspired beats, and the pleasing collective vocals of all the band members in and around the chorus. It’s a very good song with which to launch the band proper at the beginning of April.
“Matt writes a lot of the songs on the acoustic guitar,” Mooch tells me, “so we keep a lot of that in our songs. I’d describe it as song-smithstry upbeat pop music.”
“A jazzy pop sandwich,” quips Matt. “It really is like a sandwich. I start off, these guys get involved, and I finish off. If I did it myself it would be boring. Lacking.”
There’s clearly a lot of love and appreciation for one another within the band, a tacit understanding of one another’s skills as musicians and how that feeds into the production of music, and, as I watch them set up for a practice session at Foundry Lane Studios in the Ouseburn, a very real and shared passion for what they are trying to achieve as Athletes in Paris.
As Joakim puts it: “Let’s try and become kings of our own hometown before going out.”
Borrowed Time is out on 4th April 2011.
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Published in Narc Magazine