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Planet Parade Interview part 1

Planet Parade Interview

Planet Parade are a three-piece melodic, indie-rock band, hailing from Kildare in Ireland. The band comprises of Michael Hopkins (vocals, guitar), Ronan Kilduff (bass) and Andrew Lloyd (drums), who have been playing in bands together since childhood.

Officially forming Planet Parade in 2006, the guys eventually gigged around Ireland – including a well-received slot at the Hard Working Class Heroes Festival in Dublin in October 2009 – and self-released a four-track EP entitled ‘Ghosts To People’ later that year. The EP showcased the band’s wide-ranging musicality, vibrancy and uniquely idiosyncratic sound – not to mention their knack for crafting a good tune. There are strong, stirring remnants of the early recordings of The Police – 21st Century style – and Vampire Weekend in Planet Parade’s catalogue to date.

Songs ‘Play Fair’ and ‘Cut the Cord’ from ‘Ghosts To People’, received heavy daytime airplay on Irish national radio and are still playlisted on Dublin’s Phantom FM.

Planet Parade have opened for the likes of Passion Pit, Ellie Goulding, Wild Beasts, Hockey, Surfer Blood, Bell X1 and Delorentos. They also played the renowned Oxegen festival in Co. Kildare in July 2010, billed alongside acts including Mumford & Sons.

Planet Parade are an energetic, self-described off-kilter/ melodic/ alternative rock band whose strength lies in their thrilling, rousing, razor-sharp live performances.

The talented trio released their follow up EP, ‘Zulu Sound’, on October 15th 2010, to great press reviews, with single ‘Soon They’ll Come’ receiving impressive rotation on Irish national radio.

Inexplicably, considering their popular appeal and critical success, Planet Parade remain unsigned.

I caught up with singer/guitarist Michael Hopkins and bass player Ronan Kilduff before last weekend’s show at Whelans in Dublin

MVRemix: When did you form the band? Or did you all grow up together, or know each other from school?

Michael Hopkins [nodding]: Yeah. We officially formed in 2007. We had always played music and liked music.

MVRemix: Who are your influences? Are there any bands that inspired you to form a band, or is there any music you really enjoy?

Michael: We never really had any influences, at least not consciously. I like older music, like Stevie Wonder, Bob Marley, The Police and Sting. A lot of old bands.

MVRemix: Did you play shows locally when you first started out?

Ronan Kilduff: We sort of started out in Dublin. There wasn’t much to do (musically) in Kildare. There’s more there now but, when we were starting out, we just went straight to town (Dublin). We just saw that was where cooler people than us were [laughs], so we went there.

MVRemix: How and where did you record your first EP, ‘Ghosts To People’? Was it home-recorded?

Ronan [jokingly/half concerned]: It doesn’t sound like that, does it?

Michael: We did it in a proper studio, with Keith Farrell, who did the second EP as well, in Tallaght (suburb of Dublin). ‘The Bunker’ was the name of the studio. We just recorded four songs in four days. There were budget constraints. We would have liked more time but it’s expensive to record.

MVRemix: What about your most recent EP, ‘Zulu Sound’? Who produced it, and how long did the recording take?

Michael: Same – Graham (Planet Parade’s enthusiastic, multi-talented manager) and Keith again.

Ronan: Five of us went into a room again and it took us four days again.

MVRemix: Michael, who influences your singing? Your voice is a bit like a cross between Fergal Sharkey from The Undertones, Sting, and Alex Turner from Arctic Monkeys.

Ronan [laughing, turning to Michael]: That’s a new one! Looks a bit like him (Fergal Sharkey), too.

Michael: I never heard those references before, but thank you if that’s a good thing [laughs].

Sarcastically, Michael adds: Generally, the first thing to strike people when they listen to Planet Parade is the strength of the vocal… But thanks very much.

MVRemix: Why is your second EP called ‘Zulu Sound’? Is there any story behind that?

Ronan: The song ‘Zulu Sound’ is kind of themed. It’s sort of written about a hypothetical Zulu warrior who doesn’t want to go to war and has his own little anti-war protest. We felt that was strong enough to become the (EP) name.

Michael: We just like the African theme on things.

MVRemix: What do you usually write about, or what subjects have popped up in your songs so far?

Michael [cryptically]: Oh, I don’t know. Well, every song varies completely. We tend to write things in a metaphorical sense. Our songs have personal meanings which we don’t choose to share that often, so people can interpret them as they wish.

Ronan: They’re (the songs) sort of open-ended.

MVRemix: Although you have obviously worked very hard, has your national success surprised you Or did you always feel that your music would resonate with people?

Michael: We’re just doing what we do. We’re happy to see it progressing, so we don’t really have too many expectations. We just want to play gigs and write nice music and, if people come, it’s a bonus.

Ronan adds: And we definitely don’t feel like it’s time to take stock of everything yet.

MVRemix: Are there any particular producers who you would love to work with?

Michael: Not really.

Ronan, emphatically: Nigel Godrich (Radiohead, Beck, R.E.M.). I’d love to work with Nigel Godrich. He’s a genius.

MVRemix: What are your plans – if any – for your future material?

Ronan: We’ve thought as far as that we want to get an album written and recorded this year, but that’s really as far as the plan goes. There are so many other things to do: we have to write songs, gather money. A million things really, so that’s the only plan for now.

Michael: There are always things to prepare for from day-to-day, but the future material will happen soon.

Ronan: Yeah.

Michael: It has to.

Planet Parade Interview part 2

By Sheila Ring

Sheila lives in Ireland, and has written for a number of local, national, UK, and online publications.

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