Southampton indie-psych-mods Welcome Pariah released their Catch The Moment EP on November 22nd on their own Duffle Coat label. It’s a polished, mature work which punk-throwback Ged Babey took a while to appreciate, until he saw them live…
In 2013 two of the best most life-affirming gigs I’ve witnessed have been Suede and Johnny Marr. Despite a bit of foot-on-the-monitor action, by my punk rock standards both are Pop Acts rather than Rock Bands. Pop, because they’re popular, but by no means populist, mass-marketed crap. Pop is not neccesarily a dirty word and can be intelligent, positive stuff, which perversely can ‘rock’ as well.
Welcome Pariah are a pop band, although they would probably disagree. When I heard their first single Liberty Pill about a year back I had them marked down as another Southampton Mod-attired, Oasis-influenced bunch of lads. Another indie band amidst a sea of simillar mediocrity.The term indie is so meangingless and redundant now though – and this is a band who seem seriously focussed on the big time and not necessarily concerned with indie outsiderdom.
They have a pleasantly trippy, cool, tuneful sound and if you have to level comparisons they capture the style of early The Verve or Stone Roses on the new EP. Live though, they rock. A surging, electric rush of guitar and melody, harmonies and swirling tunes. Perfect pop with a rock’n’roll edge and tinge of 60s Psychedelia and 90s groove. They still cast an Oasis-shaped shadow (due to singer John Waghorn’s barnet and demeanour, perhaps) but without the gracelessness & dim-wittedness of the Gallaghers (sorry, I’m not a fan, never have been, never will be). Welcome Pariah transcend their influences and are, potentially a great pop band who will put their home city on the map.
Other than Band of Skulls, Southampton’s only really internationally successful band in recent times, albeit on a cult level rather than as household names, are The Delays, the core of whom formed as Corky around 1998. It took them two name changes and five years or more to achieve recognition. Welcome Pariah sound nothing like them but their popularity and the purposeful way they go about things definitely reminds me of them.
I spoke to Josh Butcher the guitarist.
“Compared to some other Southampton bands you seem deadly serious and really focussed/ambitious ….?”
“Maybe we are when it comes to our music. I don’t know how to answer that without sounding overly serious, I’m afraid. Anyone that knows us or has seen us dance like idiots down Lennon’s nightclub will know we’re not all that serious at all. As for writing shit on Facebook, there’s enough on there for people to contend with without us doing it to…”
The band are all 25 and have been together for two and a half years.
“The first track on the EP is a soaring epic with a feel of Weller, the Bunnymen and The Verve called The Soldier. Am I right in thinking it’s neither pro-war or anti-war, just about remembering the living as well as the fallen?”
Its certainly not a pro-war song, but neither is it an anti-war song as such, I see little point in writing those, war is horrific but the truth is there will always be war, whether we like it or not; well in our lifetime anyway. The song’s about the neglect of our armed forces by successive governments, red or blue, the story of a soldier who’s found himself homeless and forgotten. It’s written in the first person as it felt more real that way, like a lament of all the shit some of these heroes go through, because really, not enough is done to help some of these men and that’s got to stop, and it can, quite easily.
“You Are Everything is the most immediate song, great soaring guitar, lyrically sounds to me like its a “fathers love song to a new-born child…?”
You’re almost right, yeah it’s about my daughter, but the lyrics are the sort that anyone can relate to, everyone loves someone and if it makes them think of that person then that’s great. It’s the poppiest song we’ve done and I like it for that, we always try to be versatile in our song writing.
“The final track is Luna Halo, a cinematic, trippy instrumental, with a sample of dialogue midway through it.”
The sample’s taken from JFK’s 1961 ‘Secrecy is Repugnant’ speech and relates to the freedom of the press, our producer Lee Boss added that. It wasn’t initially meant to be a political statement or anything, but I suppose it fits in well with the whole press regulation debate at the moment.
“It would make cool movie soundtrack music; are you into film music?”
Yeah definitely, it’s the sort of thing I can imagine as a soundtrack to a TV series like ‘Sons of Anarchy’ or something, John is an incredible guitarist and he shines through here, it’s proper driving music.
Neither Here Nor There is a crowd favourite, possibly with a distinct nod to The Stone Roses at the start, but has a weirdly folky time signature.
Control is the hardest, fastest track and had me digging out the Psychedelic Furs Talk, Talk, Talk and seeing if I still had the first Charlatans album.
At the EP launch show Welcome Pariah – yeah it is a strange name isn’t it… but a cool one nonetheless… anyway the Pariahs showed supreme confidence by getting two of Southampton’s most exciting new bands to support them. Silver Orchids are a shy-looking student bunch who crank out a Janis Joplin style blues explosion and The Harlequin, teenage prog-indie wunderkinds and future-stars, but still both were blown off stage despite being absolutely great.
Words that reoccur in Welcome Pariah’s lyrics include ‘feeling fine’ and ‘alright’ and the phrase ‘my/your/our world’. Maybe I shouldn’t read too much into that but for Welcome Pariah this is just the start. The world is their lobster – they might just achieve world domination once they write a song that the whole world wants to sing.
The EP is available from here and they play the following gigs in December
Buffalo Bar, Highbury London on 6th Dec
Joiners ,Southampton on 20th Dec
All words Ged Babey. Read Ged’s Louder Than War archive here.