Music Features

Parcels (Interview)

If I think back over the many gigs and festivals I've been lucky enough to go to over the past fifteen or so years, the best sets I've seen all have one thing in common. They're the ones where there's a feeling of elation from the crowd; an excitement and sense of genuine anticipation for what’s about to come. A good live act can stir a frenzy with sing-along melodies and riffs. But a truly great live act can get an audience in that same place without a repertoire of hits and crowd favourites.

The first time I saw Parcels earlier this year will forever sit in my memory of favourite live sets. Within seconds of the first note, the band had everyone engaged; their infectious energy and enthusiasm quickly spread to each of the 400 or so people in attendance. Before long, everyone was experiencing a full-scale party.


When Parcels first moved from Byron Bay to Berlin, they had expected to come across other bands looking to play disco and funk music live. Toto and Noah from the band explain:

For the first year we lived there, when we were still discovering it all, we would go out to clubs and listen to techno but also live gigs, to try and find if there was a disco scene. And we didn’t really find one. We found a lot of live music, but not really a disco scene. There’s such a big electronic scene in Berlin; every second person is a DJ. And his mate’s a DJ too. So we thought there would be a live electronic music scene where there were bands doing something similar to us; getting people dancing without DJing. And I still don’t think we’ve found that.

Their standout sound soon helped them gain the attention of legendary electronic duo Daft Punk. The duo went on to collaborate with the band on their most recent single, Overnight:

It was the first time we’d worked with anyone on a collaboration. To start with, we had a week with them in the studio, and then there was a big break. And then they asked us to come back. And in-between, we didn’t hear from them at all. They didn’t really communicate like humans! And then we finally went back and had a few more days, and that was everything recorded. It was all recorded in Paris.

It was a long process in the studio just working on that one song. And a longer process still completing it and deciding it was finished; mastering and mixing it and making sure everyone was happy. And then to decide on what was going to happen with the track; how it was going to be released. We recorded it before we recorded our Hideout EP, so, ages ago. And there was all this time after we recorded it where we didn’t know what was going to happen. But we weren’t allowed to say anything. That was a really hard year! We’ve just worked with Daft Punk but no-one’s allowed to know. “What were you up to last week?” “Oh, I was just in Paris for the week...

Working with Daft Punk has opened doors for the band, including a spot on Conan O'Brien and sold-out debut gigs in the US:

They were pretty small venues, to be fair. We didn’t actually think that we would be playing any of our own shows whilst we were over in America. We were just going to play in New York as part of a night with our label. And then we realised that we were going to be doing Conan in LA and we decided to put a show on in this venue and see what happened. And then it sold out. We had no idea that anyone there even knew us. That was a cool moment.

It’s so much harder to break there. Releasing Overnight gave us a headstart though, I feel. When we were there, on the one hand, I was thinking “this is so cool, this is amazing”, whilst on the other hand, thinking “this is SO big”. You feel really small, in a good way. That’s the American dream; you feel small and you want to get big, it’s inspiring.

The band have also had a number of high profile support slots in recent months, including a tour with Phoenix, and a set playing to 12,000 people:

The Phoenix tour was amazing but that Air show, because it wasn’t a tour, it was just this one show in the most beautiful venue, was a definite highlight for me. It was in an amphitheatre, and the sound was incredible. And Air were such nice guys. Actually, all of the bands we’ve supported have been really nice guys.

For the next few weeks, at least, the band are no longer doing support or festival dates; they’re in the middle of a headline European tour, which concludes with a few dates in Japan and Australia at the end of the year:

This is the different thing about this tour; there’s less of a warm-up. There’s less of a need to win people over because they’ve already bought a ticket. They want to see you and they know what to expect. I can understand that it takes a little while for someone to get into our set. But now, I feel like it’s more of a thing of keeping them there. The challenge is keeping it at that intensity the whole time. Even if you want to take the music down to a different level. It’s a real contrast for us, mentality wise. We’ve done six months of festivals and there you get half an hour, 40 mins max. And you’re trying to get people there, keep them there, introduce them to your music and make everyone have a good time. But here we can work on the progression of a set. We feel less restricted about the songs that we play and more about building a journey over an hour and a bit.

Dynamically, we want to bring it to huge highs and lows, and make the transitions really smooth. We want to do different kinds of songs. It doesn’t have to be a disco dance party the whole time, we can do whatever we’re feeling.

That Dot to Dot run, those were 20 or 30 minutes sets. And when you’ve got a 20 or 30 minute set, and 15 minute changeovers, you have to just chuck everything on the stage, say “let’s go” and play the most pumped-up tunes so that everyone wants to know the name of the band they just saw. But here, you can really go places. And we can work on the sound before the show. It’s a lot more polished.


The longer sets also give the band a chance to try new material:

We played three new songs last night. They’re quieter songs and harmony-based; things we’re trying to do more of. It was a big test - our van didn’t arrive until late so we only just squeezed in our soundcheck and the support soundcheck. So when we got there, there were some things that weren’t perfect and the new songs really require perfection, so that threw us off. But that’s the thing that’s exciting us about this tour, the new tunes. We’ve played a lot of the same songs for the last six months. This is the first time where we’re going into a song and we’re not sure what’s going to happen!

We asked our manager if we could take October off, not to take a holiday but just to be creative together again. And yeah, we recorded some stuff, we wrote a whole bunch of stuff, and rehearsed a lot which also led to more writing. We were writing together which, when you don’t have a lot of time, you have to skip that a little bit, I feel. It was nice to have a month of every day coming together and creating.

We’ve become perfectionists, and in some ways, it can be damaging but I’m happy that that’s the way it is. It means it’s a slow process for us. Working with the Daft Punk fellas, you get a different appreciation for what a song means and what is perfect, and where songs can go. So we end up taking way longer than we should but yeah, we’ve got some stuff. We’re working towards an album slowly!


Our thanks to Noah and Toto for taking the time to talk to us at No Ripcord. For details of Parcels' upcoming tour dates, check out their website: