The Parlour Suite expand surf-pop genre on new album

On their new album, Everyone's Looking, Minneapolis duo the Parlour Suite cut a deep path of their very own right from the start; high and steady, bright and scintillating.

Some bands lose their songs through over-complication; but this husband and wife team of Joel and Inga Roberts know that carefully weaving complexity into their songs allows them to flourish. This is a collection pulling heavily from sounds inspired by retro surf rock, but it has a soul all its own.

Band Members:

Joel Roberts, Inga Roberts, Joshua Perez

Gimme Noise: The Parlour Suite is just the two of you guys. How do you create such a full sound in the music?

Inga Roberts: On the record, Everyone's Looking, Joel and I were able to double up a lot of the vocals & fill in on instruments that we wouldn't necessarily use in a live performance. We didn't want to limit the sound on the recording by restricting it to things expected by a two-body band.

After the recording was completed, we tackled how we would interpret our sound in a live setting. We brought on Joshua Perez on drums; he and Joel especially play off the emotional element of the live performances, creating special nuances that are tied to each show.

Joel Roberts: On the recording, I was able to produce all the ideas I eventually wanted to incorporate into our live performance. With the addition of Joshua it fit perfectly.  Now that I can focus on guitar, I play extremely heavy gauge strings, and use various space echos, to produce bass, rhythm, and lead guitar all at the same time.

The group is unique in that you are married and working together. What are the pros and cons of working with your significant other?

Inga: We live and breath music at our home; there are instruments scattered throughout the whole house. I guess that is the biggest pro/con of all. There isn't really a distinction of when band practice begins or ends. We just write at all times.

It is a very time consuming career to pursue together, and if we weren't focused on the same musical endeavors I can see where it could be very hard on our relationship. I am quite thankful that we can work together as The Parlour Suite.

Joel is an amazing song writer and has had a huge impact on the way I process my compositions. We both have such differing musical backgrounds that it has stretched us to incorporate influences that wouldn't have been ingrained otherwise.

Joel: Con: it is very rare that we are able to turn off the music portion of our relationship. Pro: we love it so much that it is only an issue when we are absolutely exhausted.

How did you come to meet Peter Anderson and choosing him to work on the new album? What did he bring to the production that you would not have had had you worked on this project yourselves?

Inga: Peter has played a huge role in the development of The Parlour Suite's sound. He has an extremely discerning ear and was able to bring additional focus to the methods we used in creating Everyone's Looking.

When we told Peter we were interested in recording with him again at Flowers Studio, he came out to our place and listened to us play the songs live in our music room. We spent the rest of the evening hashing out the rough outline of how we wanted to tackle the songs. He has this way of capturing the tonality of our instruments that we would not have been able to produce on our own. Peter definitely has his place in The Parlour Suite. This past year we spent meticulous hours in the the studio, working to create an album we would love to play live.

Joel: Peter is genius when it comes to drum production. Being a guitar player first, I thought it would be nice to get the opinion and guidance of someone who is a professional drummer as well as an engineer. I can tend to get lost in writing guitar parts, so it is awesome to have him there helping to structure the parts and using them tastefully. 

You say that music is reflective of cityscapes and hot beaches, with stories soaked in vintage-pop sensibilities. Can you elaborate on this? What did you listen to growing up that drew you to this music?

Inga: When we were writing the album, we had spent a lot of time laying outside in the sun listening to Dick Dale, Link Wray, Leslie Gore -- classic surf and girl groups. That, and a combination of the destinations our tours have taken us to, had the biggest influence in the stories told on the album. Skateboarding down the boardwalk in Venice Beach, flipping thru records at Earwax in Williamsburg, the drive down the coast when we stopped in at the bright arcade in Santa Cruz... We wanted to write about the times that made us feel excited for life and what we are doing, and I'm so excited to be playing in the places that these songs were inspired by!

Joel: Probably wasn't inspired much from moving lawns listening to Ice Cube, but the Predator was a pretty motivating album to work to. On road trips, my dad was a big fan of the B 52's, the Cars, Fleetwood Mac and early Santana. These guys all had amazing guitar players and very distinct as well. That led me to old blues and slide players like Elmore James, Robert Johnson, Son House and a lengthy list of other players The slide and the Hawaiian island feel of pedal and lap steel really struck me as my favorite thing I ever heard.  From there I got way into Dick Dale, Link Wray, and Bo Diddley. Players who could play the crap out of their guitars and really use the guitar percussively. Whether they were singing or not, you knew instantly their "sound" when they first start hitting strings. They could make the guitar sound so powerfully pretty and raunchy at the same time. Back tracking to age 11 my dad had an Ultimate Fake Book with 500 pages of guitar tabs for 50's and 60's pop songs. There we may have chronicled my consumption of 50's rock and 60's California permanently staining the old brain.

Favorite track off the new album?

Inga: Ooo! I honestly cannot narrow it down to a favorite recording, but I would say "Grass" is my favorite to play for our live set! I get a lot of energy from the arrangement in the song!

Joel: "Everyone's Looking." When Inga and I first put this one together I was working on a surf medley of sorts. Somehow this one just came together nice and it is so stripped down with one guitar, and a few percussion items carrying it on. I just love playing that one. I get a chance to get obnoxious with making my amps swampy with tremolo and putting my 50 year old reverb tanks in the hot seat. I actually play two Fender Showman amps. These amps were made popular by Dick Dale courtesy of Leo Fender. Dick kept blowing out speakers and amps till Leo built this elephant for him. Ironically I have blown out all of my speakers on mine, and since fixed.

You seem to both be very much DIY artists. What do you think of this direction in the music industry?

Inga: We have accomplished a lot on our own, but in all honesty, we have had a strong support team backing us this past year. Even though we are not on a label, we've been fortunate enough to have a smart group of people working with us. Peter Anderson recording and co-producing our album, Crystal Ann Lea at M:M Music has taken on our radio representation, and we've had amazing people step in to take on legal aspects and licensing.

As far as being successful on the business side of things, we approached this record with a few things in mind. We looked at the songs that our fans were buying and that had commercial interest and tried to focus on delivering an album filled with these qualities. If you pay attention to the small things: what songs are we selling the most of, what areas of the country are people buying our album, which songs do people respond to in a live performance, you will have a lot more success as an independent artist.

We happen to love upbeat pop music, and our fans have the same interest. So we wrote an album that we love and I think they will too! 

What do you think you excel in, and what do you feel to need to improve?

Inga: Running our own business we find ourselves planning months and years out at a time, I am learning to put that aside at the end of the night -- and just enjoy today.

Joel: I feel this two headed thing for me would be guitar theory. I'm plenty good to write and create material and collaborate and add to others songs. But I do tend to get too wrapped up with learning more and more and more -- and getting slack on completing projects. I've since figured out a feng shui way to balance these out so I don't find myself playing black sabbath and Chet Atkins stuff till the wee hours and then thinking, "When is the next time I'm going to play Black Sabbath riffs or Chet Atkins at a show?" Hmmm.
The Parlour Suite expand surf-pop genre on new album

After working so hard and promoting a new album, were you creatively exhausted and needed a break, or do you continue to write and prep for the next album?

Inga: It's funny, because creating and promoting an album takes months of planning. There are moments of exhaustion, but as soon as I get some time alone to decompress, all I want to be doing is working on a new song or booking the next tour.

That has been the amazing part about having Joshua Perez drumming with The Parlour Suite. He is always ready to practice or to take a song a part and perfect it. He is not idle with his time. Always anticipating and being on the move. It really fits well with the drive Joel and I have, and the band we've fostered the past couple of years.

Joel: I think I go through a few days here and there where It may take me a few days to put things back together after returning home from the road or a home show. But for the most part. I think I am happiest just playing.

What can we expect at the CD release show on April 13th?

Inga: Happy energy! Grant Cutler, one of my favorite Minneapolis songwriters, will be DJing the night. Baby Boys will hit the stage first; their song writing is pop-genius, so catchy! And of course Mayda, playing right before us, is a little package of pop-power!

We couldn't be more excited for our album coming out and to share the night with some of our favorite local bands!

The Parlour Suite will release Everyone's Looking at Cause on Friday, April 13, 2012 with Mayda, Baby Boys, and Grant Cutler.
21+, $6, 9 pm

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