First World Pros are an upcoming Brighton band, with a colourful and exuberant sound. With their cheeky and outrageous melodic songs, they have the spice for life and the sugar for your desire. Comically channelling your disappointment and anger, these Pros have the ability to trigger your ‘Oh Dear’ moments into their own blissful songs.
After two years in the making, Brighton based new musical team have just released their first self titled album. Filtering sounds such as Western Pop, rock, electronica and punk through the prism of African Music. I caught up with guitarist and singer Billy Barrington for an interview to help fulfil your interests and talk about their obsessions of life.
What’s the idea behind the band? We’d been listening to a lot of music from around the world, music from South Africa, Congo and Kenya in particular. I think there’s a tendency to romanticise music from cultures (and languages) different to our own. We were joking that some of these songs were probably just singing about their fridge breaking down over this beautiful, spiritual sounding music. The idea kind of spiralled… The other main idea was that we wanted to make a load of noise in a room with our best mates. Again, the idea kind of spiralled…
Who are the bands influences? If you listen to the album you’ll soon realise that we’ve got a vast array of influences. In general people are hearing a ‘fusion’ of ‘world’ music with ‘non world’ music. Perhaps I could highlight a couple of songs to give you an idea… Opening song ‘Payday’ starts sounding like a grungy desert blues bands before breaking into a mid section that sounds like Shangaan Electro (super fast South African cheap keyboard electronic dance music) mixed with the Chemical Brothers and Donna Summer. Over the top of this I shout about getting absolutely plastered and wasting your wages on payday.
‘Changed for Good’ starts sounding like Fleetwood Mac playing with a Soukous (beautiful, chiming guitars) band, the song mutates slowly until it sounds like tropical, psychedelic krautrock. I then sing about the changes you say you’re going to make to yourself when you meet a new partner, some of which you can’t always achieve….(and that’s ok, the fact that you want to change is important!)
Some people are going to listen to it though and say it sounds just like Talking Heads, Paul Simon, LCD Soundsystem, Vampire Weekend and the Clash and that’s great (and true) too. Also, right when we started Mbongwana Star released their album ‘From Kinshaha’, an incredible mixture of traditional Congolese music with contemporary production techniques and music. That was an inspiration.
What is the song writing process? Eg. who writes the lyrics, music etc. In general I’ll write a little riff or a chord sequence and a few lyrics and come in to the rehearsal room. Then we mould and experiment and have fun making sounds together. We have 3 drummers/percussionists, bass, acoustic guitar and incredible, inventive synth and electric guitar players. It gives us a lot of sounds and textures to work with and play with. Additional lyrics are written as a team and whole songs might be entirely written and rewritten in the rehearsal room. It’s certainly been the most democratic and natural form of song writing I’ve ever been involved in.
How do you come up with the themes of the songs? One core idea was to really write about what is directly happening to us or affecting us. We directly tackle the idea of ‘first world problems’ (and ‘first world guilt’) in ‘Oh Dear’. ‘Check Your Phone’ is a simultaneous celebration and warning about checking your phone. ‘Somewhere in Between’ is about finding time to remember to be nice to each other in long-term relationships when we have so much vying for our attention. I didn’t want to write about stuff I wasn’t experiencing or hadn’t experienced fairly recently. I think it’s fair to say the lyrics are direct. Hopefully they’re funny, powerful and sometimes even moving.
What was the production process of the self titled album? We went into the studio with Mark Crawford the lead singer of Los Albertos ( the legendary local ska band) with the hope of recording an EP. It clicked very quickly and by the end of the weekend we had enough for an album recorded. There followed a few months of overdubs with Mark, Will Calderbank (our synth player and string arranger) recording string sections, minor tweaks and then mixing. Bristol’s Ben Capp than mastered the album beautifully, giving it some real kick whilst maintaining it’s subtleties.
Are you happy with the outcome of the finalised album? We’re over the moon. We did this for the love with very little money, in very little time. We think the results are pretty incredible. We owe a lot to Mark Crawford and Ben Capp. And maybe, just maybe, the songs are pretty good too.
The upcoming tour, are you all excited? Super excited. We’re really looking forward to the Brighton show, it’s our homecoming show, and we should be all warmed up by then and really hitting our stride. Hopefully some of your readers can make it down. We’ll have CD’s for sale there but check our album out on major digital streaming and download sites beforehand to get an idea of what we’re about. Thanks BJournal.
First World Pros Brighton gig with support from Pussy Liquor and DJ Bomber is Thursday April 13th, Sticky Mikes Frog Bar.