The Go! Team
About The Go! Team
The sound whipped up by the Go! Team is an effervescent blend of indie rock guitars, police show themes, hip-hop beats, funky marching bands, and schoolyard chants built on samples and then augmented by live instrumentation. The main architect of the group's sound is producer and guitarist Ian Parton, who is joined by a rotating cast of singers and musicians, most notably singer/rapper Ninja. The 2004 album Thunder, Lightning, Strike was the band's grand debut, knocking the blogosphere on its collective ear and setting the group's template in stone. Though they have strayed from it a little -- most notably on 2015's shoegaze-inspired The Scene Between -- albums made two decades after their formation (like 2021's Get Up Sequences Part One) show the same amount of tuneful and joyous energy and still sound box-fresh.
The Go! Team's first release, 2000's Get It Together, was primarily a solo effort by Parton that gained support from John Peel and others, but legal problems prevented a timely follow-up. By the time of 2003's Junior Kickstart single, the group (Sam Dook on guitar, banjo, and drums; Chi "Ky" Fukami Taylor on drums; Jaime Bell on bass; Ninja on vocals; and Kaori Tsuchida on drums, guitar, keyboards, and melodica) assembled and signed to Memphis Industries. Thunder, Lightning, Strike was released in 2004 and quickly became a sensation in the U.K., where it was nominated for the Mercury Prize, and in the U.S., where the band became an MP3 blog darling. A bidding war ensued in the U.S., with Columbia winning, but before the album could gain release, many of the samples had to be replaced (which didn't affect the quality of the record at all). The group followed up the album with two U.K. singles, 2005's Bottle Rocket and 2006's Ladyflash, and extensive world touring.
While Thunder, Lightning, Strike was an artistic success, it didn't sell the way Columbia would have liked and the Go! Team found themselves label-less in America. Sub Pop soon picked them up and (with Memphis Industries) released Proof of Youth in 2007. After a long break, the band returned in early 2011 with their third album. Rolling Blackouts had the same core group as previous records and featured guest appearances by Deerhoof's Satomi Matsuzaki and Bethany Cosentino of Best Coast. After another long break, during which Parton called a band meeting and basically fired the whole group, the fourth Go! Team album, The Scene Between, was released in early 2015. With Parton calling all the shots musically and a different singer on each track, the record was both a return to their early way of working and a step in a new direction.
After the record's release, Parton played on and helped produce a song on Whyte Horses' 2016 album Pop or Not, then started work on the next Go! Team LP. He brought in players from the band's live incarnation, drummer Simone Odaranile and vocalist Angela "Maki" Won-Yin Mak, and sought out some old friends -- guitarist Sam Dook and rapper Ninja -- for some old-school flavor. Once basic tracks were laid down, Parton traveled to Detroit in search of vocalists, settling on members of the Detroit Youth Choir and teens from an area high school. He also called in previous contributor Julie Margat (aka Lispector), while adding Annelotte de Graaf (aka Amber Arcades) and a Houston, Texas vocalist, Darenda Weaver, whom he found while on Bandcamp. On the finished album, 2018's Semi-Circle, the players, singers, and samples combine to create a sound that incorporates the schoolyard hip-hop of early records with the more song-based style of later albums, while adding new elements (like marching bands and calypso) to the effervescent sound.
Midway through the recording of the Go! Team's 2021 album Get Up Sequences Part One, Parton suffered an intense bout of hearing loss that was diagnosed as Ménière's disease. While the condition has no cure, he was able to manage the symptoms well enough to continue work. The band at this point consisted of Ninja, Dook, Odaranile, and two new recruits, bassist Adam Znaidi and multi-instrumentalist Niadzi Muzira. Also contributing to the throwback sound that's very reminiscent of the group's early work were rapper Indigo Yaj, teenage vocalists Rian Woods and Jessie Miller from Detroit Academy of Arts and Sciences, as well as members of the Kansas City Girls Choir. The album was released by Memphis Industries in July 2021. ~ Tim Sendra