“Hey!” I message Avalanche Party’s Facebook account. “I’m here. The goon with the laptop and microphone in the back room.”
“Be down in a bit, just loading in…” is the almost instant response.
And this is how I find myself. Sitting in a back room of a quiet pub in the heart of Brighton, waiting for one of the most charismatic frontman on the scene today.
When Jordan Bell walks in his looks the part. Leather jacket. Long hair slicked back with black jeans and t-shirt. But it’s when you start to examine him closely you realise he, like his band, aren’t what you initially thought. The t-shirt isn’t for some obscure band, but Leonardo Di Vinci. The polymath inventor, painter, sculpture from the Renaissance. And this makes sense as he was ahead of his time and slightly out of step with his peers.
After listening to their transfixing debut album ’24 Carat Diamond Trephine’ you could say the same. As it’s not an hour of searing feedback, guttural vocals and macho posturing. Instead if it’s full of pathos, melancholy and musically ranges from garage rock, sun-soaked American folk, and some EDM basslines.
The album was recorded over a frenzied three-week period late 2018 at York’s Young Thugs studio. “We had free rein to experiment and go wild,” Bell says of the experience. “Quite a lot of the songs were the band playing together and there wasn’t too much overdubbing. It was done pretty fast.”
After hearing this ’24 Carat Diamond Trephine’ starts to make more sense. There is a frenetic immediacy it that only comes when a band has a rudimentary understanding of how it goes and a limited amount of time to get it right.
Opening track ‘El Dorado’. It isn’t the visceral feedback drench number you’d expect, but instead of gentle piano dripping in pathos with Bell’s most emotional vocal delivery on the album. “Jared (Thorpe) brought that in. I think he’d been listening to a lot of Bill Evans. That was kind of where that came from.”
Bell goes on to explain that the song grew organically from a simple piano melody. It was then recorded live with some subtle guitar feedback in there too, but it’s effectively just piano and vocals. “It was just obvious we hadn’t released anything like that before but it and we loved how it sounded but it was it was important for us to put that one out first as well just because it was so different from what we’ve done before.”
And this is what Avalanche Party do. Just when you think you have them sussed they do something else. At their core Bell and co. are music fans and understand how things should feel, and not just sound. When asked why ‘El Dorado’ opened the album he paused briefly before answering. “I mean, firstly, whenever you make a playlist or a mixtape for someone, you always start with like the little atmospheric, you know, and then you hit them with something, you know. Yeah, bit louder. You don’t do the loud ones first”.
Early on in our conversation, after being asked a question about the groups collective musical tastes, instead of saying Nick Cave, Tom Waits, Beefheart or another seminal musician who always did things their way, he flashes me a puckish smile and says: “Not an album, but we got into the habit of listening to really terrible Gabba music for a while.”
Then flashes that smile again. He knows he’s caught me off guard, but is relishing it. As with everything Bell says he is telling the truth and it was born out of touring.
“A Danish guy played drums from a band on the tour. He’s a great friend of ours now, but we’d never really met him before. In the dressing room he was playing that full blast, and we got into it. I can’t imagine any of a scenario to listen to that kind of stuff, but it really worked and stuck with me since”.
When asked “what happens now?” following the album release Bell explains they will re-group in January and February for rehearsals and recording ‘Avalanche Party II’ in March. There are big plans, but nothing has been finalised and Bell is cagey to talk about it. Part of this is because it still might fall through and partly that he can’t quite believe the situation he’s in only five years after starting the band with his brother and mates and if he verbalises it everything will fall apart.
After talking to Jordan Bell for more than five minutes ones thing is apparent. He chooses his words wisely and doesn’t say what he doesn’t mean. This might be down to some Yorkshire stoicism. Never let on how you are feeling and they’ll never be able to grind you down, or maybe it’s because he was saving his vocals for the performance that evening. Either way, when Bell speaks you know he’s thought about it and this is his definitive word on the matter.
Like the music Avalanche Party make, he doesn’t always deliver what you expect. This might explain why they aren’t as big as they could be, but probably explains why they’ve outlasted some of their peers and have delivered a better album for it. And this is what makes the band one of the most exciting bands around at the moment.
No one knows what the future will hold, especially Bell, but there is one thing for certain, Avalanche Party won’t play it safe and deliver something for the sake of it. They’ll take their time and craft an album that says something, whether or not they understand its ultimate meaning at the time.
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Words: Nick Roseblade
Photo Credit: Jason Ferdinando
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