It’s late 1999. Tom Friend, A&R for DB Records, is checking out the XFM Unsigned show in the UK when he hears an entrancing sound coming from his stereo. Crusty 4-track within a week.
By the end of 2000, the boys had signed a deal with DB, and the recording of a debut album had commenced at River Studios, Wandsworth. Co-produced with Chris Hughes and Mark Frith, and recorded in no less than five different studios (including Tom’s bedroom), ‘Holes In The Wall’ was a slice of pure pop futurism. Entering the UK Top 20 on release in 2002, it was a resounding critical and commercial success spawning two Top 40 singles and a Mercury Music Prize nomination.
In Autumn 2002, armed with a pile of new ideas, the band repaired to Metway Studios, a complex owned and run by Brighton’s very own Levellers. A very different record to it’s predecessor, ‘The American Adventure'(BMG, 2003) nonetheless managed to fuse a pared down recording approach with an even more sprawling and adventurous musical scope than before. The results found the pair compared to everyone from The Band to Stereolab, and took in lo-fi folk, thumping blues and free-form psych-rock, whilst always retaining a pop shimmer. By now ESP had toured and played shows with the likes of Elbow, Grandaddy, Ian Brown, Starsailor, The Who, David Bowie and Oasis.
“The label came up with a rubbish marketing campaign: we’re playing with The Who [at Royal Albert Hall] therefore let’s all get on Vespas and ride about town! We’d probably get a slap if we’d turned up on them.” — Tom White, THE ELECTRIC SOFT PARADE
It was around this time the band started working with Eamon Hamilton (of British Sea Power) and Marc Beatty as (what would become) Brakes. The four had been aware of each other for some time, and after a chance meeting at a Lonesome Organist gig in Brighton, a deal was struck that if Eamon wrote the songs, the rest of the boys would happily provide some beef to them.
They continued to play live over the following year (during which Tom and Alex freed themselves from some particularly nasty major label business).”Many things are true in Spinal Tap. The more people from the music industry we meet, the more we understand where those characters come from! I used to think that the characters were pure fiction, almost cartoons. But they do exist in real life. You just need to go to any office of any record company to see them.” – Alex White, THE ELECTRIC SOFT PARADE
After the release of The Brakes “Give Blood” (Rough Trade), ESP once again returned to the studio to record “The Human Body” EP for Truck Records UK. Seen as another turning point for the band, this EP is a continuation of the self-enforced recording ethics of ‘The American Adventure’ coupled with a full re-appraisal of what made the band great in the first place. “A Beating Heart” rocks like the Birmingham Philarmonic playing in Elbow’s outside lavvy, “Cold World” is an ace Ben Foldsian plink-fest and the ghost of a big pop Spiritualized casts a spectral pall across the rest. Monu-mental.” – NME
Since the release of the EP in the UK, the Brothers White have scarcely had a moment to themselves. In between Brakes tours supporting the likes of Belle and Sebastian and Editors in the UK and Europe, ESP have secured their first ever U.S. record deal with Better Looking Records, and played their first ever U.S. shows at the 2006 SXSW Festival in Austin, Texas.
Tom and Alex have begun work on the third Electric Soft Parade album. Having originally written most of the album whilst still with BMG, the band have been itching to get into the studio ever since, and have now replaced much of the original track listing with newer material. Recording began in March at Truck Studios set deep in the Oxfordshire countryside. “It still confuses the fuck out of me, trying to define the kind of music we play! I guess at the moment, it’s trying to emulate Robert Wyatt, Pet Shop Boys, Neu and the Mission of Burma all at once…” – Tom White, The Electric Soft Parade
‘The Human Body EP’ will be released in the U.S. by Better Looking Records on May 9th, 2006. The band will be hitting the festivals this summer and will also undertake an extensive U.S. tour in support of the full-length album on its release in Autumn.