Exposure: Hip Parade
They're hip. They're not a parade. That part doesn't matter though – they're The Hip Parade, and they're the indie answer to Susan Boyle, though with less hair and more guitars. For like their fellow Scot, they too finished runner-up in a telly talent show. Fortunately, for the integrity of all involved, neither Simons Cowell nor Fuller were in any way involved in Orange Unsigned – a Channel 4 show offering a platform for bands without a recording deal to get their music out to an eager public, and have it judged by Alex James and Lauren Laverne. The Hip Parade impressed all along the way, finishing second only to fellow Glaswegian Tommy Reilly, and now find themselves playing T in the Park, with even more exciting plans further ahead. Lead singer, Rob Shah, and guitarist, Dave Flavell, tell the tale of talent show success.
How did Hip Parade come to be?
Rob: We are just a bunch of mates who wanted to start a band. None of us could play our instruments when we started out. We taught each other how to play guitar and just spent a lot of time messing around writing music that we thought sounded cool. We booked ourselves some good old pay-to-play gigs and convinced some mates to come see us and it just developed from there.
How did you get involved with Orange Unsigned?
Dave: It was quite a spur of the moment thing. We got an email asking us to apply so I applied without telling any of the other guys and we got in. Next thing we’re on national TV every week. Thinking back it’s a bit mad, but at the time we were completely oblivious to how famous we were becoming.
You came second overall, and received consistently good comments throughout. Were you pleased with how it went?
Rob: We were over the moon. We never thought we would get as far as we did. It didn’t really hit us until the shows started broadcasting and people started recognising us in the street, which was really bizarre at first. We only went on the show to have a wee stint on TV to show off to our mates. We didn’t even expect to get past the first round - we were stunned when we got a yes from every judge never mind a clean sweep all the way to the final. The best thing for us though was the fact that people at home were voting for us, that was an incredible feeling.
How has it affected your profile as a band?
Rob: Well we didn’t really have much profile before the show, well nothing compared to what it is now. We’re now selling out gigs, had over a quarter million plays on MySpace and in the planning stages of our debut album. It has been amazing.
Are shows like this a good thing for young bands in Britain?
Dave: We believe it is, yes. It is becoming harder and harder for young bands to break through these days. It’s a showcase to an audience you could never reach before. It’s not about winning the prize or impressing industry types - it’s about reaching out to people who want new music. If it wasn’t for the show we might still be playing to ten people in some bar on Sauchiehall Street.
Your MySpace still says you're unsigned. Is that something that will change any time soon?
Dave: Does it? We’re in talks at the moment with a few different people. Our management have been amazing in getting us the right people. I’m sure there will be an official announcement very soon.
Your style seems very natural, real, unpretentious rock. How do you go about writing and recording a song?
Rob: We write music that we would buy and listen to ourselves. People seem to like it and that’s what every musician wants, isn’t it? When we record we try to keep it a live as possible, we put a lot of energy into our live shows so it’s important for us that it transpires into our recorded work. We’re just about to head into the studio to start recording our debut album, so we’ll let you know how it goes!
What's been the best moment for Hip Parade so far?
Rob: We played at the SECC last month and having 9000 people singing your song back at you, that has to be one of the greatest feelings!
What's the plan for the rest of 2009?
Dave: We spent the first half of 2009 touring the UK as headliners and then as support to The Cinematics. We’re heading into the studio now to start recording an album. When it’s done we’ll get straight back on the road. Our next big show is T in the Park, we’re playing on the Saturday, which we’re well excited about. We’ve been going to 'T' as punters for the last 10 years. It feels strange not buying a ticket, I guess I’ll have to pin my 'artist pass' up beside all my old T in the Park tickets!
What's the nicest thing anyone's ever said about Hip Parade?
Rob: Getting called Fit Parade by Lauren Laverne was pretty cool, she also said we were radio 'A List'! Alex James said that our tunes are absolutely belting and that he loved us. Having someone you used to idolise as a kid say that to you is quite a surreal experience! I’ve heard Paul McCartney is a fan of the band too - how mad is that?