“We are five, a polygamous marriage. Do you know how complicated it is for it to work? ” | Culture | ICON

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There’s a video out there of Parcels before they were Parcels. They are playing bluegrass on a street in his hometown, Byron Bay, a surfing paradise of 5,000 in New South Wales, Australia. And in that video that’s exactly what they look like: teenage surfers with long blond hair, a healthy brunette, denim overalls, banjos … “I’m the one with the banjo. This is how we made the money that allowed us to move to Berlin ”, explains Patrick Hetherington (Australia, 25 years old), guitarist, keyboardist and vocalist, while rolling a cigarette in the courtyard of his home in Berlin, the city where the five members of Parcels have lived for five years.

Now that they publish their second album Day/ Night they are the spitting image of refinement. Most of the manes have disappeared, they are dressed in seventies style by Gucci and they practice that soft pop seemingly inane which, if not interpreted with exquisite care, can be tacky worthy of the worst dental visits, but if done right it is simply delicious.

And Parcels do it very well. This month they have been the cover of publications around the globe and after announcing their world tour (in Spain they will play in July at Mad Cool in Madrid), the tickets have flown. “The truth is that it is milk. We have arrived where we wanted ”, admits the musician before recalling his story. “We have known each other since the first year of the institute. From 13 or so. We had a psychedelic rock band, a folk rock band, and we put on Parcels at the end. I wanted to be a musician since I was a child, but with Parcels it was the first time I said: ‘This is special, here is wood ”.

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Just turned 18, they decide to go to Berlin. Why Berlin? It was actually random. What we were clear about is that we wanted to get as far away from the island as possible. We had always wanted to go to Europe. We knew Berlin was cheap and cool. And we dive headfirst ”. The initial plan was not very ambitious either, he says. “Imagine, you are going to live with your colleagues in Berlin. We spent a season having a good time, partying, listening techno…”. But money doesn’t last forever and the winter there is long and hard. “When the cold came, some went back to Australia. Jules [Crommelin, el guitarrista] and I stayed and thought: ‘Man, either we get serious or we have to go back.’ We had met an agent who had given us a couple of shows, so we decided to rehearse. “

Things went slowly until one day the miracle arrives: “One night we were going to give a concert in Paris and someone told us: ‘I think I have seen Daft Punk in the room’. We laughed, but it turns out that it was true and at the end of the concert they appeared in the dressing room ”. Actually they had already signed with the most hipster of the French independent record labels, Kitsuné, who surely would have something to do with that meeting. But the important thing is that both bands ended up collaborating on a song, Overnight, that changed the history of the group and that it was also the last time, that is known, that the French duo worked with another band before disbanding last February. “It was magic. That put us on the map, of course. Suddenly, people were wondering who these guys were who had recorded with Daft Punk. But above all it gave us a confidence that we did not have in ourselves ”, he says.

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In 2018 they published their first long album, Parcels. It sounded great, but his problem was that it had very good sound but few memorable songs. Still they kept adding famous fans. The protagonist of the first video, Withorwithout, it was Milla Jovovich. “Turns out, he’s a huge fan. We played a party at the Cannes festival and I was in the front row dancing and singing. He knew all the letters. I don’t know who of us came up after the concert, but by the end of the night he had already volunteered for the video ”.

Not that the album was a huge success, but from then on, everything has been on the upward path. Especially thanks to his concerts. They have one of the most powerful, precise and greasy live shows of the moment. Anyone who has seen them in theaters or festivals knows this, but those who do not have a splendid example on YouTube. Live Vol 1, an album exquisitely recorded at Berlin’s Hansa Studios in the midst of a pandemic. In that mythical venue where David Bowie recorded his Berlin trilogy, the quintet appears to be a timeless band. They sound less and less like Phoenix and more like Steely Dan. “You’ve nailed it, that’s exactly what I heard before and what I hear now,” he acknowledges. “We have become very classic in our tastes. I listen to a lot of jazz and lately it has given me by Abba. I love their vocal harmonies and production.

It seems that the only thing that could break that rising streak would be internal problems. But apparently they get along just as well as in the beginning. Something that is surprising. It is curious that being five friends who have been living together for so long, no friction arose. “We are very happy. Things couldn’t be better. Even between us. Sometimes you are closer to one than the other, it is inevitable. We are five. This is a polygamous marriage. Do you know how complicated it is for it to work? You have to take advantage of it ”.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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