Before Clap Your Hands Say Yeah! and Minneapolis’s Tapes ’n Tapes were blogged until they buzzed, there was the Go! Team, a Brighton-based British sextet whose voluminous French cuffs of sleeve-worn influences put the “hyper” in hyperlink. That’s just how they planned it. “I think the average listener is just desperate to hear something new,” says Go! Team guitarist/drummer Sam Dook by transatlantic line. “But it’s hard for new things to get playlisted unless chosen by the big boys. We figured our success would rely a fair amount on people listening on the Internet.”
The Team emerged in 2004 with a sound described by Miami’s New Times as “bobbing and bristly, as if Tom Selleck’s moustache became sentient and started a theme-song cover band that played the sets of Magnum, P.I., Charlie Brown specials, and the Brady Bunch Hour variety show but employed only 13-year-old New York City jump-rope practitioners as musicians.” Fair enough. The original Go! Team featured Ian Parton, who cobbled together the group’s cut-and-paste Thunder, Lightning, Strike (Sony) from nicked LP samples and his own multi-instrumental additions. Parton then solicited collaborators, a 50/50 male/female mix of instrument swappers willing to perform high kicks and other acrobatic stage maneuvers.
“At the root of most things that work well is a simple idea,” Dook says. “For the Go! Team, I think as long as a song can be reduced to a melody that gets in your head, you can put chaos all around that.” Indeed, the multinational, co-ed Team’s amalgam encompasses sassy electro-soul, windswept country, smeared guitar sneers, block-party hip-hop, piano ballads, and brassy double-dutch chants. But even street cheers need a street team, and the Internet provided it early on in the form of MP3 posts and kudos from the bloggerati. Everything from The A-Team to Hardcastle and McCormick, from the Avalanches to RJD2, has been mentioned in relation to the Go! Team. It’s what made them such perfect blog fodder. Like contents under pressure, a Go! Team song is built around buoyant, almost vertigo-inducing loops. It’s a pastiche that can be traced back to Afrika Bambaataa. And if a group can cram five genres into one, it’s a great way to conserve valuable server bandwidth/iPod real estate.
“There has been a surge of what I call ‘Fakioheads,’ ” says Dook. “So many bands were trying to make something that sounds exactly like their favorite bands. Why would you want to waste space on another copy? Ian had a reaction to the staid formats that weren’t pushing forward when he composed Thunder, Lightning, Strike. Now we try to push the live side of things, because it not only helps mix up all our influences but mixes up the idea of sample-based music being a solely laptop performance phenomenon as well.”