Navigating the Freezing Atlantic | Aberdeen City

Musicians feed off of each other.  If I hear a band doing something good, I am inspired by what they are doing.



There are several questions that Brad Parker of Boston’s Aberdeen City gets with some amount of consistency. The first is just where the name Aberdeen City comes from. Certain staff guessed Scottish football while others ventured further west. “Usually, the first association is Nirvana,” says Parker “which is not true. It’s actually a now-defunct, historical designation for a small area of Boston where we lived. In our run-down apartment building it said ‘Aberdeen’ in a tile mosaic on the floor.” Parker mused that the name seemed “a sort of proper noun” and the band took on the name, adding “City” to set them apart from another Aberdeen.

The other question is how deep in the land of James Frey are they with their official bio? The bio, readily available on their MySpace page, is a collection of assertions that border just this side of fact. For example, it starts with the humble admission that “the four members of Aberdeen City met while smoking outside of a lecture series about unfulfilled childhood potential entitled ‘Young Hopes, Dead Dreams.’” Parker chuckles when asked who has the fiction-writing skills.

“Our friend Vito wrote it. That bio is exactly 50 percent correct.” Most bands spend far too much time coming up with ways to make their bio a one-stop introduction to the band and its sound, as if the music might never get listened to. Parker noted that as well. “I personally don’t like the medium, because I always feel that a band truly wants people to listen to the music. When someone says, ‘This band sounds like so and so, who I really like,’ they may hear something in that band that I don’t. So when a bio starts making all these claims about a band and what they sound like, at the end of the day it almost does more harm than good.” Therefore, when it came time to do their own bio, the members of Aberdeen City decided that it would be better to have a little fun.

The four members of Aberdeen City actually met in 2001 at Boston College. Parker (lead vocals, bass), Chris McLaughlin (guitar, noise, vocals), Ryan Heller (guitars, keys), and Rob McCaffrey (drums) went to school together. “We found ourselves at B.C. and there aren’t an awful lot of musicians that are playing together, and then we played together throughout school. It became serious after graduation.” The band built a following in Boston and released two EPs—We Learned by Watching in 2003 and Sixty Lives in 2005. Aberdeen City signed to Dovecoat in 2005, releasing The Freezing Atlantic in October.

In our review of the album, we compared the band with Radiohead—a relatively easy assertion. However, this is the age of bands that sound far too much like each other and, in many cases, like the bands we grew up with. It led me to tread the territory that can be a slippery slope with some bands—the question of what is original sound in rock music. “Well, no one makes music in a vacuum,” says Parker. “Most people aren’t isolated growing up. I think that musicians have listened to an awful lot of music and have been influenced by that music to various degrees throughout their lives.”

As with most creative endeavors, Parker also feels the growth of a musical idea or sound is a group effort among musicians in a community. “Musicians feed off of each other. I don’t think that’s what’s popularly on their mind, but I know personally, if I hear a band doing something good, I am inspired by what they are doing. I think good things come from that in the end. Sometimes they get bogged down in complete derivative mush, but sometimes really truly inspirational things can happen.”

This talk of influences leads to the obvious question: Who would play the first Aberdeen City festival? First, Parker wanted to know how many choices he got; as it is only the first year of the hypothetical festival, five seemed appropriate. After some intense contemplation to ensure all five Aberdeen City members’ preferences are represented, he says, “I am trying to think of contemporaries. I think these are a good cross-section of our band overall and would represent us to a good degree. In no particular order: the Chinese Stars, Cass McCombs, Spoon, Blond Redhead.” He pauses, thinks a little more. “Who would I throw in there as the kicker? Maybe the Divine Comedy.”

What does the rest of the year hold for Aberdeen City? “After South by Southwest, we are playing Irving Plaza in New York,” says Parker, “and then back to Boston to open for the Go! Team. There are a bunch of tours that we are working on. Hopefully, we will be able to play shows and shows and shows.”

Throughout our conversation, Parker’s comments center on the music, but with a worldview. When I ask him how he want to close out the interview, he offers, “Just give it a listen [to The Freezing Atlantic], and listen to good music. And tell it to your friends—not even our music, but just music in general. I think the more music fans out there in the world, the better off everything is going to be.”



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