Interview: Parlovr

I had the chance to speak with Alex Cooper from Parlovr (pronounced Parlour), who was so great to talk to. Their 2010 saw a re-release of their self-titled debut album on Dine Alone Records early in the year, as well as an EP, Heaven / Hell / Big / Love, in the fall. Currently they’re in the studio working on more music to put out this year. They don’t stop working! And in our chat, it was evident to me how much Alex enjoys what he’s doing.

Parlovr has dubbed their own sound as “sloppy pop.” Why? Alex says, “We kind of jokingly came up with that description because there are obviously a lot of bands that fall under the label ‘indie rock’ and it’s so generic and it’s virtually meaningless nowadays. We really felt we were making music that was a mixture of surf and some soul and some punk, but all really melodic, so we wouldn’t necessarily call it alternative and it definitely wasn’t just pop. It was kind of all over the place, but we really have an appreciation for melody – melody and beat are the most important things of the song when we’re writing one. That’s pop, but it’s not glossy, compressed, super commercialized, which is the connotation that one normally gets from pop, so we just called it sloppy pop and it kind of just rolls of the tongue.”

And it does. Sloppy pop is great description and it’s something that really makes one curious about their sound. Listen to them and you’ll get it.

The band is based out of Montreal. The music scene in Montreal is quite rich, with a lot of great Canadian bands being from there. Alex describes, “Most of all, it’s created a community where you get to collaborate with a lot of people and you get to see a lot of shows really cheaply.

And there are a lot of generations in the Montreal music scene. I’ve been living here for 11 years and in that course of time, when I was first here as a teenager, I went to see The Dears play one of their first shows and it was mind-blowing at the time. It was really cool. And then kind of got displaced by Arcade Fire and I remember seeing Arcade Fire in the same venue, La Sala Rosa, and then seeing them play for the first time and no one knew who they were and just being blown away.

And then seeing bands nowadays like Braids and Silly Kissers in loft parties. There are just constantly new bands coming forward. It’s like an assembly line minus the gross factory imagery of it all. I guess the cool thing about the rich musical community is there’s always something new and it’s just kind of fun to be playing music in the city because a lot of these people are just our friends and it’s really cool when a lot of your favourite bands happen to be one of your friends’ band.”

With the band currently recording, Alex described their recording process this time around.

“The process is really cool. We had majority of the songs written before we went in, but we deliberately left a few songs and bits and pieces of songs kind of open for writing in the studio, which doesn’t mean that it’s gonna be some sort of psychedelic experimental thing. All the songs are super straightforward, pretty concise and pretty poppy and pretty structured, but we wanted to be able to play around a bit with some weird sounds and some kind of weird sci-fi and retro-futurist sounds. We allowed ourselves the license to do that in the studio. And we’re almost finished. We’re finished all of the recording. We just have to do some mixing and maybe some additional little bits and pieces of recording, but it’s mostly done.”

And if you’re wondering when Parlovr hopes to release the album, they’re looking early fall/late summer, likely around September.

Although some people may have only become familiar with Parlovr after signing to Dine Alone Records and releasing an album shortly thereafter, the band first released that self-titled debut in 2008. Having toured extensively, they’ve obviously evolved since then.

“When we released that album, we were just playing it, the 3 of us, less than a year. And we recorded that album on a shoestring budget, like really, really cheap, just our pocket-change kinda thing. What we were doing for that album was we were trying to make every song really kind of different from one another and we just let all of our teenage influences come through, like Pavement and Pixies and Sonic Youth and Nirvana and Radiohead and everything. Since then, for this album at least, we’re trying to focus on a style that’s really nostalgic because it’s kind of a heartbreak record, but it’s a really upbeat heartbreak record. We’re looking at really fun, weird R&B and soul from the ‘60s. And I wouldn’t say that we sound like that, but that’s the kind of been the more major influence than ‘90s guitar rock.”

After such a great 2010 and with a new record on the way, there’s a lot for the band to look forward to. Alex says, “I’m really looking forward to getting on the road again and touring all the new songs and working out how to play all the new songs because, as I said, recording them we left some of the parts open-ended and experimented in the studio. So we’ve started to play quite a few of the new songs live, but there’s a whole bunch more left that we never played live and I think it’s going to be really awesome to do that because it’s gonna add this really cool, weird, dynamic to the set list.”

Parlovr has toured quite a bit, not just Canada, but they’ve been to France and China, as well. It’s hard for them to pick a favourite tour spot.

“I guess it just depends on the country. It’s hard to say because sometimes you’re playing with a really big band and the show can be really fun, but the town is really crappy. There’s so many variables. In Canada, Kitchener-Waterloo is a really amazing place to play. The people there are just really cool and it makes all the difference. We playing a show last weekend in Victoriaville in Quebec, which is a really small down here in Quebec and there were maybe 50 people there max. and it’s a super small bar, but it’s probably one of the best shows that I’ve personally played in years because all the crowd is singing along, people are going crazy. There’s a lot of like improvisational gospel chanting going on. It was really crazy. It was insane and that makes all the difference when the audience are really cool.”

Now that it’s Canadian Music Week, and soon Parlovr plans to tour their new music, Alex tells me what makes their live show one to watch.

“I think we play a really feel-good live show that’s really exciting, energetic and it’ll make you dance. We really like to joke around and give 500% of our energy to the audiences, so most people, unless they hate our music going into the show, people who don’t know our music or people who like our music always leave our shows pretty energized and pretty excited and happy. We basically play the entire time with a smile on our face and flopping our hair around and jumping around the stage. It’s kind of just super energetic. It’s as if we’re playing our last show every show.”

Alex provided a fantastic drunk story!

“We were touring in China and it was our last day after spending 2 weeks in China and we played in Hong Kong and it was a really, fun big show with all the bands that we were touring with. And the whole time we were accompanied by a tour manager, this really, really amazing girl, her name was Ciga, and she’s from Shanghai. She helped us out so much and was a really, really cool person. And she’s bisexual and they have strip clubs in Hong Kong and she has always really wanted to go to a strip club. So we finished playing the show and she was like, ‘I’ve gotta go to a strip club! We’ve all gotta go to a strip club!’ So Louis and I and a couple of the other bands all went with Ciga to kind of celebrate and buy her drinks at a strip club and it turned into this really crazy rambunctious evening and we had to catch a flight at 9am the next morning back to North America. So we ended up staying out until 5am and we got back to the hotel at 5:30 and our wakeup call was at 6:15. This is Louis and I and Ciga and these other people who were out and Jeremy and our manager stayed back and they went to sleep pretty early. So we got back to the hotel and we’re really, really drunk, obviously.”

You can sort of imagine what happened here. They were faced with a decision: to nap or not to nap. I was already laughing.

“And what ended up happening is that we slept right through it and slept right through our flight. Apparently Jeremy and our manager were banging on our hotel door and we just slept through it all. We woke up, just completely hung over and I just remember Louis yelling at me, “Alex! Alex, what time is it?!” And we saw that we missed not only our trip to the airport, but we had missed our flight. And so we were stuck in Hong Kong and we had to scramble around, not really knowing how we would be able to get out. And people don’t really speak a lot of English in Hong Kong. And we kind of freaked out and we had to scramble around the airport. We eventually found a flight back, but missing our flight in Hong Kong was probably one of the craziest drunk memories I have.”

As for their shot of choice, when I told Alex whiskey was a common answer, he decided to be different. So if you’re looking to buy the band shots, buy them sex on the beach.

Parlovr will be playing CMW on Friday at 1am at Lee’s Palace for Dine Alone Records’ showcase. They’ll also be playing a CHARTattack showcase on Saturday at 10:30 at the Horseshoe Tavern. Be sure to check them out!


Categories: Interviews


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