Interview w/ Andrew Gordon Parry - "I was sort of telling myself to get a bit of drive back"
Well known and highly respected within Liverpool's tightly knit music scene, Andrew Gordon Parry has been writing and releasing across a range of genres for almost a decade now. After delving into a textural, electronic world under his AGP moniker, Parry has now returned to a more natural sound that showcases his poignant lyric expressions. His debut album 'For One', made in collaboration with Bill-Ryder Jones and a handpicked selection of session players, is out today! We sat down with Parry to map out his personal and sonic trajectory which has led to this project coming into fruition.
Q. What was the spark that first began this debut album project?
A. I think it was the 18th of June last year when I went in to record. There was definitely no intention of recording an album. I went in and worked on a track that hasn’t actually made the album but in the song I was sort of telling myself to get a bit of drive back. A lot of the time when I write tunes I’m singing to myself as much as anyone else and with that song I knew consciously that I was singing to myself about cracking out of this lull of not doing anything for while. I’d really enjoyed that recording session and so from there I booked in to record loads more sessions over a kind of three or four month period.
Q. Do you enjoy having these prolonged periods of writing/recording sessions?
A. I think there’s two sides to it; the longer you can spend on tunes the more you can draw interesting things out of them but at the same time you can over cook it and often the best ideas come quick and are finished within a couple of days.
Q. Which track on the album best embodies the project?
A. I think ‘Ready For Normality’ as that was the track that made me realise the album was coming together. That song was about waking up and taking on the world in a different way. When I wrote that I knew it was what I wanted and that made me realise what the album was about. The album is sort of supposed to build and have these intense points and the ending to ‘Ready For Normality’ is one of those intense points.
'Ready For Normality' begins as a beautifully haunting track that uses a deep, rich piano tone and swelling background strings to focus attention on the vulnerable, heartfelt quality of Parry's vocals. The vocal flow follows a tranquil passage, riding from note to note without any jarring shifts, arriving there just like a string section would, with gentle rises and falls. Yet, the title line "I'm ready for normality' is delivered with a soaring emotion. As the line tails off his vocals blend with the joyous instrumentation in a cinematic style. The final third of the track then expands into a dense swarm of fuzzy guitars, textural electronics and Parry's churning lyrics that grow in passion and intensity with every line. Certainly a high point on the album and a great entry point into AGP as an artist.
Q. What are the main lyrical themes running throughout the album?
A. I think there are two themes. Love obviously comes into it at times and then in terms of my situation personally, since last performing live back in 2017 I have got sober and as much as I don’t want that to be a huge big thing, that did actually give me the motivation and the songs are really retrospective and are about getting out of that hole that I was in for quite a while that limited me in seeing what the best road ahead is. It wasn’t like before I went in I wanted to make an album about being sober but because that was so new to me and I hadn’t openly written about that was always going to happen at some point.
I’m actually finding it quite nice working on other stuff now too that doesn’t need to be so baring all. I want to write songs that are fun and I want to write something different so I don't want to be put in the category of just writing sad tunes! I don’t particularly think this album is sad, it’s more hopeful than sad.
Q. Bearing this in mind, what kind of emotive reaction are you hoping to evoke in anyone who listens?
A. One of my friends said he cried when listened to it and I didn't want that, that’s not the intention but someone else said that they cried and laughed in equal measure and I much prefer that! I just want it to be thought-provoking. For some people it will be a hard listen, some people won’t want to listen about someone getting sober but others with maybe align with it and find it quite helpful. When I started doing music when I was 15/16, I wanted to be able to emote feelings in the way artists I listened to did that made me understand things. I’d forgotten that for so long. Whether that’s a personal thing or just a fun situation I feel like that is important.
Q. Which track on the album did you find the most difficult, but perhaps most rewarding, to work on?
A. Emotionally I found the last track on the album the hardest. I had to say to the lads “Can I record the vocals on my own for this one” which is the only track on the album where it’s just me so that felt personal. There was never a day when I didn’t want to work on certain songs though, the hardest part has actually been my decision that I only want to play 4 of these songs in a live capacity. I don’t want to sing certain songs on it because I know the lyrics will feel too much to sing right now”. I’m already working on my 2nd and 3rd albums and they’ve got more songs that have a bit more bite to them and that I want to play live. They’re a bit more blasé and don’t feel quite as personal.
Q. What has spurred your creativity to make you want to start working on albums 2 and 3 straight as album 1 is released?
A. I feel like there’s less personal restraints. I have a tendency to really stop myself in the past and not let myself to take it all in and think about what I was actually saying. I would do certain things I was happy with but I couldn’t bring things to completion like I wanted to because I couldn’t wake up the next day and remember what the aim was to finish. That would have always made it hard to make a record but I’ve had time to think about this album and whether I want to put it out. I do want to put it out but it took me a while to get the headspace for that because like with any art you’re baring all and people judge you.
It was clear from speaking with Parry that he's entered into a new era, radiating with motivation as he breaks into his creative stride. The album feels incredibly self-cathartic yet the feelings of hope, love, loss and growth transmit into you as you listen. Tracks such as 'Emerald' and 'Live Like That' have a bittersweet tranquility to them while songs like 'Love Is All That Remains' and 'Last' have an immersive, cosy quality as Parry's vocals drift between leading the line and offering echoed background texture. 'For One' is a wonderfully emotive debut that will tangle your emotions from start to finish. It is a fantastic reflective run of tracks that looks back on Andrew Gordon Parry's personal development over the past 5/6 years and highlights his natural talent for songwriting. It is a triumphant return that perfectly lays the seeds for a much longer musical journey that is just around the corner for AGP.