Walking into The Viper Room last night to see the much heard about and highly underrated (as of yet!) Parlotones- I had literally crossed into a whole other country, South Africa to be exact. After parking in Siberia, Laurel Kathleen and I had managed to wander into S.A. without knowing it- who knew a passport was a new necessity when frequenting the famed Sunset Strip venue? I had listened to their tunes for the past week- and though the songs were instantly appealing- nothing prepared me for the performance lead singer Kahn and the rest of the band was about to present us with. To see them live, is a whole other thing- and the four boys in black button-downs and red ties were unavoidably entrancing.
With each song Kahn presided over the audience with the most amazing animation, as if he were some wayward marionette hand-picked to perform as is- but no amount of string could restrain the singer. The moves and expressions accompanying each song were – unpredictable, to say the very least- and Laurel and I found ourselves stage front, unable to turn from the quartet’s pseudo rock musical (think the early versions of Panic! At The Disco- and multiply that by ten.) After the set that had me wanting to race home to hear “Push Me To The Floor” just one more time, we were invited on a little impromptu Rainbow Room unwind session, where Laurel caught up with Kahn and got the back story in the establishments famed red booths. Yes, they did in fact coordinate with the band’s ties.
BNB: How did you arrive at your current band uniform of black shirts and red ties?
Kahn: We played a show for the magazine Cosmopolitan where the theme was a dress up vintage glam thing, so we all dressed up. We didn’t have the exact makeup that we have now, it was a sort of experimental. Most of the time, it looked like crap….like…A Clockwork Orange, have you seen that? So we took it from there, and the outfits… after touring very often, we started getting very scruffy. We toured the country, and started stumbling on stage in shorts and vests. We decided to be uniform, so that we didn’t look messy.
BNB: What’s the difference between playing huge stadiums in South Africa versus small clubs here in the US?
Kahn: We treat it with even more…gusto because we want to win over even more people in a new country, so we have even more determination. We constantly play big arenas and then small clubs, so we’re used to it. We never got into music to pursue fame and fortune; we do it because we love it. So I don’t think we’ve ever….we’ve always been pretty grounded. There’s always a country where we are insignificant, so…yes, we’re always going from a big fan base: like in Germany we might play for a thousand people, then we’ll go to the next country and they don’t know us, so we’ll play like, 200 people.
BNB: Does it feel different onstage at a small club versus a huge stadium?
Kahn: Oh definitely. I mean, obviously we still play out of enjoyment, and to win them over; it’s a bit of both.
BNB: Is this your first time in the states?
Kahn: Two years or a year ago we played South by Southwest, but this is our first proper tour. We’ve really enjoyed it, it’s a cool place.
BNB: I saw on your Facebook page that The Parlotones have their own wine?
Kahn: We were doing an interview with a property magazine, and they asked what our dream property would be? I said, ‘A wine farm, and release like a boutique wine’ and someone who happened to be a fan found us and said ‘Let’s do it. Let’s make a Parlotones wine.’ So we actually went and were very involved in the process: we sat there all day with experts, mixing and matching various wines until we came up with three choices. So we have three wines actually…
While my favorite music partner-in-crime was preoccupied, I sat down and chatted with lead guitarist Paul Hodgson in an informal manner. Just relaxing I managed to tell him how jealous I was he had gone to any of the World Cup games- and he in exchange told me that not only had they been able to go to a couple- The Parlotones actually played the night before kick-off! Clearly their magnitude South of the hemisphere is beyond astounding- and it’s only a matter of time before the fashion-forward fab four are hitting arenas here in America. Catch them while you can before they blow up. The intimate show definitely left Laurel and I wanting more. Check back at www.myspace.com/theparlotones to find out where you can catch their unique performance next!