Interview with Theme Park

Last Saturday, September 29th, Ear to Ears had a very precious chance to interview one of our favourite bands, Theme Park. The trio was in Jakarta to take part in an annual Java Soulnation festival on September 28 and 30th. After they had their first show the day before, we came to the hotel they stayed at noon to get to know more about the band and their music. And here are Marcus Haughton, Miles Haughton and Oscar Manthorpe answered our questions…

Ear to Ears (E2E): How do you describe your music for people who haven’t heard your songs before?
Oscar Manthorpe: I think essentially it’s like danceable pop music. It’s sort of pop music with a twist.
Marcus Haughton: It’s pop and it’s dancey.
Oscar: We wanna make people dance.

E2E: We heard you on a show last night and we can’t really put your music into a category, which is good. So, what influences your music?
Miles Haughton: Um, I think bands that made dance music is definitely an influence. I like that party bands, you know, that kind of thing. But I think beyond that is the same old stuff. I guess it’s like just all different music we listen to growing up, like so varied, changes so much.
Oscar: I think you can take some examples like the big people that we like, the people that made ambitious pop music, so I think that is fun and you can dance to it but also have like a… I don’t know… a cerebral element to it. That you can sort of think about… people like David Bowie. Just people who are like interesting, but also have great melodies.

E2E: People like to compare your music with Bombay Bicycle Club and The Maccabees, what do you think about that?
Marcus: I can see there are… mmm… similarities.

E2E: Did you guys listen to them?
Marcus: They’re friends. But I didn’t think we ever intentionally… It has never been something like that we listen to get music inspiration, but we’re big fans of the bands.
Miles: I think we grew up with similar music environment… um so… you know, what we would listen to and what they listen to are similar and stuff.
Oscar: I think when you grow up around yeah… in that environment like aesthetically there’s always gonna be some similarities. So yeah, I think… not exactly the same.

E2E: You’re gonna be on tour with Bloc Party, how do you feel about that?
Oscar: Super excited!
Miles: We started our first live show a year ago in August and then we went on tour with Bombay Bicycle Club. So, a year since then I think it’ll be of a similar magnitude. That’s really cool.

E2E: What’s the craziest show you’ve ever watched?
Miles: I once went to see a band called Fucked Up. It was crazy because they’re crazy and it was in a venue closed down now in London called the Astoria Two. There weren’t a lot of people there. They are popular band. I don’t know why there wasn’t a big crowd…
Marcus: There was a big crowd to begin with. But I think more people went to it because of the hype. They didn’t actually know what they were gonna expect. We didn’t know what we were gonna expect.
Miles: I was at the balcony, I looked out… So maybe halfway through… it was like just the people on the very front left. Everyone was going mental and the singer was jumping in the crowd. I spotted like three friends basically fighting everywhere, in a good way, it was sort of like a happy fight.

E2E: What about the craziest show that you’ve ever been on stage?
Oscar: We played the show at, do you know David Lynch? He’s a director and he helped design this club in Paris. It’s like the most amazing place about three floors underground or something. It’s got like golds, like walls and just like with weirdest faces you’ve ever seen… crazy stuff… but that was yeah, a lot of fun to play.

E2E: Was that like a really good vibe, were there a lot of people there?
Miles: That was also what was weird about it. Basically you couldn’t go unless you are a member. You couldn’t buy tickets. It was just, you know, members happened to fancy a little bit of music that day, we were the band. So there was about like 30 people in the audience, but it was a smaller room. Everyone was dancing. So it was just weird. It’s a nice feeling. Everyone was happy. We’ve never had a higher percentage of dancing audience before. It doesn’t happen all that often.

E2E: What’s your favorite all time album?
Miles: Oh, good question…
Oscar: I always think, what I go back to is Neil Young, After The Gold Rush. When I feel like hung-over, or just like happy or sad, that’s always like the right thing to listen to.
E2E: Very sentimental.
Oscar: It was all my parents’. They played it when I was 3 or 4.
Marcus: It changes constantly, I think… The Strokes, Is This It.
Miles: I think maybe Funeral by Arcade Fire… the one that I love the most.
Oscar: There’s never that one album. It’s one for the right situation… There’s a few….
E2E: It’s like the same as asking what’s your favorite song.
Oscar: What’s your favorite book, what’s your favorite film… It’s too hard.
Miles: Why must I choose?! (laughs)

E2E: Did you grow in like musical family? Because I read that your name comes from Miles Davis and Marcus Miller.
Marcus: Our parents like music, but then they don’t actually… They can’t play anything.
Miles: Our dad went to see Miles Davis once, before we were born, and they picked the names Miles and Marcus. He’s got this big player. He’s got about 5000 vinyls. It’s very cool.

E2E: Have you listened to half of them?
Marcus: We’re not allowed to go in there.
Oscar: Dad’s are the worst. My dad won’t let me use his vinyl player, he’s got all this amazing stuff, but he’s like, “Oh, it’s the needle, it’s very expensive. Don’t touch that.”

E2E: So you like to listen to jazz when you were still little?
Miles: Yeah, listened to, and played jazz as well.
Oscar: Marcus put on Sketches of Spain by Miles Davis, that record, the other day.
Marcus: I wouldn’t say that we listen to Jazz very often. But that’s a great record.
Miles: No, I think we do.
Oscar: I feel we do listen to jazz.
Marcus: Speak for yourself!

E2E: You’re big in Europe especially in the UK. So is it important for you to play and gain lots of fans in Asia?
Miles: It’s always nice to have fans anyway, but I think as well as place… like I’d like to travel to more often. So, it’d be nice to have a reason for us to come. I’d be nice to say let’s go to Japan, or Thailand. We’d have people to play to, and we get to see a bit of places as well.

E2E: So on Sunday, your setlist, is it going to be different from last night?
Marcus: I think it depends on the audience.
Oscar: We’ll have a look, we’ll judge it by ear.
Miles:  If we see enough similar faces, we’ll switch up.

E2E: Well, we’ll be there on Sunday. So, that’s all I think. Thank you so much.

(Special thanks to Sam Walker, who made this interview happened and to our contributors, Fita and Reri for being very helpful)

About Ear to Ears

From Indonesia to Sweden.... and to the whole world.
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