‘A’ are a Suffolk pop punk quintet, comprising of three brothers: Jason Perry (vocals) Adam Perry (drums) and Giles Perry (keyboards) along with Mark Chapman (guitar) and Andrew Sheehy (from Kids in Glass Houses) on bass. Sheehy recently replaced current Radio 1 Rock Show presenter Daniel P. Carter, who played bass between 1997 and 2010 and now plays guitar in Krokodil.
They formed in 1993 and released four albums for London Records between 1997 and 2005: How Ace Are Buildings? (1997), A vs Monkey Kong (1999), Hi-Fi Serious (2002) and Teen Dance Ordinance (2005). They are best known for their single Nothing, which reached number 9 in the UK singles chart in 2002.
The band was mothballed in 2005 while individual members pursued other careers, but have reformed sporadically for tours and festival appearances. Frontman Jason Perry is a successful record producer and songwriter, having produced and written for Matt Willis, Busted, McFly and their supergroup spin off McBusted. He has also produced albums for The Blackout, Don Broco and Molotov.
This summer saw ‘A’ return to the live arena for the first time in a number of years with a barnstorming performance at Download. 2015 also saw them reunited in the studio, recording the first new ‘A’ material for 10 years, scheduled for release next year.
“Download was ace!” says Jason. “It was easy, because the crowd did all the singing so I didn’t have to do anything! We only had two rehearsals. We did a couple of low-key warm ups and then that was it. I had no time to really think about playing Download. The next day, I was getting on plane to do some producing work in the US. It wasn’t until I was halfway over the Atlantic that I broke into a smile and thought ‘Bloody hell, that was brilliant’. All the superfans who grew up with us came out to see us. It takes a lot to get you out the house when you get to our age, so we really appreciate it! We’ve finished two new songs and recorded a whole load of new ideas. We’re also planning on doing a documentary about the making of Hi-Fi Serious, which will be crowdfunded by the fans hopefully, so there’s lots to be excited about as far as ‘A’ goes.”
Here, in “no particular order” are the 10 best ‘A’ songs, according to Jason…
NOTHING (Hi-Fi Serious, 2002) “I love the riff. It’s turned into a bit of a cult song that people sing at me. Ellie Goulding was singing it at me the other day. She didn’t even know it was my band! It’s turned into one of those songs that people know but they don’t really know who it’s by. I like that, I’m really proud of that. I love the way it’s arranged. Originally, the pre-chorus part was the actual chorus. But I wanted to make the actual chorus very simple, it felt like we were trying too hard. That’s when I first thought I wanted to be a record producer.”
GOING DOWN (Hi-Fi Serious, 2002) “One of my favourites, lyrically. I wrote that on a plane – it’s about flying. I love the bass line in it, it’s really simple and reminds me of early U2. I love playing it live, but there’s a moment in it where I’d always struggle to hit the note. A little falsetto thing in the second verse. So what I had to do was teach myself to laugh before I sang it, to relax myself. I’d have to turn away from the mic and do a giggle. That way I could always hit the note. It’s just psychology. The best way for me to sing is when I’m relaxed and I’m most relaxed when I’m having a laugh at something.”
MONKEY KONG (A vs Monkey Kong, 1999) “It’s always great to play live and it has a really good vibe. Al Clay produced that. The whole song was pretty much live to tape. I love that album – it’s my favourite ‘A’ album. It was a magical time for us and everything was really exciting. Hi-Fi Serious was a different vibe – we knew we had to work hard now and have a hit, but doing Monkey Kong, we couldn’t care less. We just enjoyed being a little gang doing what we wanted to do.”
OLD FOLKS (A vs Monkey Kong, 1999) “This is off Monkey Kong as well. Again, just a great period for us. We were just having fun. I love this song because we sound like The Police. So I just swing my hands to it, like Sting. I met my wife around the time we made this record so it reminds me all the good stuff that was going on at the time.”
I LOVE LAKE TAHOE (A vs Monkey Kong, 1999) “The thing I love about this song is it’s really simple with great melodies. There’s a really upbeat fun vibe to it. We nearly always put it in the middle of the set because it’s so easy to sing. It gives me a bit of a rest! We’d have a snow machine and all the kids would sing the na-na bits. Brilliant.”
BAD IDEA (How Ace are Buildings?, 1997) “This is off the first album and basically it’s a list of bad ideas. It was the first radio play we got on Radio 1. Steve Lamacq played it. He just loved it and started championing the band, so we knew we just had to put it out as a single. It’s funny, because we were in the studio doing b-sides and we were stuck for songs so I just said, ‘Let’s just change the lyrics for Bad Idea’ and we ended up writing a song called Good Idea in about 10 minutes. One of the lines even says, ‘Changing lyrics – good idea’. We were just taking the piss. It was cartoon punk, bratty in a kind of Beastie Boys sort of way. Lyrics like, ‘We’ll park where we want to and just pay the fine’. Just cheeky. That’s genuinely how we felt at the time, we were just this cheeky little gang!”
FOGHORN (How Ace are Buildings? 1997) “Another good one off the first record. I really love this, loads of young energy, but it’s so high to have to sing! Really hard work. This whole record is just a massive contrast to the last album. If I’m honest I think we lost our way a bit with that last record. Our band was all about personality and this just really sums that up, whereas on the last record we were a bit too serious and trying too hard. It took the fun out of it a bit, I think. We were thinking too hard about doing an album bigger than Hi-Fi Serious. For that initial spark and enthusiasm, you’ve got to not really care too much and just enjoy what you’re doing and that’s what this is all about.”
SOMETHING’S GOING ON (Hi-Fi Serious, 2002) “I really love this for the middle eight! Our brief to ourselves was to write a middle eight as good as Bryan Adams! The middle eight of Run To You is unbelievable! Same for Summer of ‘69. This song has got the best middle eight we ever wrote and it just came really easy– it just takes the song to where it needs to go to.”
THE SPRINGS (Hi-Fi Serious, 2002) “I love everything about this song. Everything about it is just right. It’s a really really good pop song and has some great lyrics. [Producer] Al Clay really did a good job on this song. A real stand out for me.”
6 O’CLOCK ON A TUBE STOP (Hi-Fi Serious) “I just love to play this one live. It’s a real crowd pleaser. The fans love it! Again, it just feels like what ‘A’ is all about really. Some album songs can drag in a set, especially when you’ve got a load of catchy singles to play. But not this. This is one of those album songs everybody loves.”
For more information on ‘A’, visit their official Facebook page.