Parlour Tricks

words + photos by Joe Cortez

A band as difficult to peg down as the city that birthed it, New York's Parlour Tricks brims with a frenetic energy and delights with lush, shimmering harmonies. They've garnered an incredible amount of buzz with the release of their debut album "Broken Hearts/Bones" (available now via Bar/None) and have recently wrapped up a tour with Electric Six. I caught up with Parlour Tricks prior to their date at Santa Ana's Constellation Room for some portraits and the band took some time out to answer a few questions via email. For more on Parlour Tricks be sure to visit parlourtricksmusic.com and follow @parlourtricks on Twitter.

So you’ve been on the road with Electric Six for a few weeks now, how’s the tour gone so far? Any funny stories from the road you can share?

We just got home yesterday. It was so fun. Too much fun. There are a lot of stories.... Let me think.  There was that time Brian forgot his gold shoes at the hotel (he wears gold shoes at every show) and he mentioned it in passing backstage, and DaVe from Electric Six whipped out a pair of sparkly gold briefs and offered to let Brian wear them.  He tried them on, but unfortunately (or maybe fortunately...) they didn't make it onstage that night. But boy did he look good in them. 

Your debut album, “Broken Hearts/Bones” was produced by Emery Dobyns who’s worked with the likes of Patti Smith, Antony & The Johnsons and Suzanne Vega. Can you tell us how you got in touch with him and how recording went?

We had been in development with a different label in 2013, and they had been looking for producers to team us up with. I had spoken with a handful of people, nothing really clicked, and then one day they had me Skype with Emery. The connection was immediate. He was funny and soft-spoken; he understood what we were trying to do. Even though we didn't end up signing with that label, we knew our work with Emery was just beginning. 

Lily (Cato), I read that your early songs were written prior to asking vocalists Morgane Hollowed and Darah Golub to join the band, realizing only after you had written your songs that they would benefit from female harmonies. Did the way you approach songwriting change then once you realized how well your voices worked together?

I don't know if my approach changed, necessarily. It just finally made sense. I had been writing for three voices without having three voices, before. Once the women joined the band the sound I had been hearing in my head was achievable in real life.  It was a relief. It allows me to write the music I want to write. They aren't backup vocals. Their voices are a crucial part of the instrumentation. 

You’ve mentioned that you didn’t exactly set out to make a pop record with “Broken Hearts/Bones,” are you looking then to break away from the sound you’ve captured with this record on future recordings?

The next one will be different. Broken Hearts/Bones was us really trying something new; I had written a bunch of songs that lent themselves to a kind of pop sensibility and we committed, and rolled with it. Emery helped us hone in on that sound, and it was an invaluable experience.  Currently the songs I'm writing are a little rougher around the edges; a little more in keeping with how we sounded when we first started - minus the mess, and the utter lack of rehearsal.  We're bridging the gap between who we were in the first place and who we became with the first album. 

Now that your current tour is wrapping up shortly, what’s up next for Parlour Tricks?

Writing new stuff. Recording new stuff.  and counting down until the next tour!