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  • Parcels: Noah Hill on creativity, Tempelhof Sounds and getting out of Berlin alive

Tempelhof Sounds

Parcels: Noah Hill on creativity, Tempelhof Sounds and getting out of Berlin alive

Parcels Day/Night was one of our albums of 2021. Now they're coming to play at Templehof Sounds festival this summer.

Parcels are playing at Tempelhof Sounds on June 10. Photo: Antoine Henault

We sat down with Noah Hill from the globe-trotting Aussie pop-funk sensation to talk touring, Berlin living, and their performance at Tempelhof Sounds.

You’re just back from the first leg of your world tour, how has that experience been?

I think it had been two years since we toured and nothing really prepares you for what it’s like living on a bus for a month and having that intensity. It really is an unnatural way to live. In a way it’s almost it’s kind of disturbing. It’s really destabilising. That was a shock to the system after being in Berlin and Australia during COVID and staying still for the first time in ten years. So, there was that part and then there was the crazy shows as well. Coming back after two years and playing the biggest shows. Like, wow, people still want to see us? I felt so amazing in that in that regard. 

What’s different about a festival show compared to a regular show?

It’s much more relaxed. When we played our first festivals on this tour, in San Diego and Phoenix, it was such a contrast because you know that no one has bought the ticket just for you. They get to see lots of bands and it’s a fun time for everyone. The pressure’s off, and it can be really enjoyable because I feel like I can let go a bit more. At a regular Parcels show, I put the pressure on myself and on us as a group to make everything perfect because people have invested in us specifically. Sometimes that’s too much. In a festival, we just get it going, we cut songs, mash it all together and it’s a lot of fun.

Tempelhof Sounds is bringing live music back to one of Berlin’s most iconic spaces, what does that park mean to you?

I think it represents the allure of Berlin in a fantastical way. When you first land in Berlin, you see all these abandoned places, the strangeness of it all, the emptiness, the nothingness. The weird people taking back these old buildings and that just doesn’t exist anywhere else. That’s part of Berlin’s charm. It’s so typical and indicative of the city that the festival is happening there and that Tempelhof even exists as a park and not just some massive block of luxury apartments. It’s an incredible space.

Parcels are on the line-up with some huge names, past and present. But you’re arguably the biggest contemporary band on the bill. How do you comprehend that success?  

I would say the feeling is the same no matter what stage of your career you’re at. I feel exactly the same. I still don’t feel known, or rather, I’ve not got being used to being known. People know my face and they come up to me, but I just I never put myself in that bracket. I have so much pride and belief in what we do, but I never reflect upon it too much that because in the end, I feel the same. Like a novice. I’m writing music today, in my parents house, in my childhood bedroom with shit gear and an acoustic guitar, and it’s so bad but I’m still making music. No matter where we get to, I think it’s going to be the same. It doesn’t change anything.

What made Parcels move from Australia to Berlin?

We moved straight after school because we were itching to get out. Byron Bay is a pretty small town, and every time I come back, I realise it’s super insular. You get stuck. Stuck in ideas, and the small, strange hierarchy of the town. Don’t get me wrong, so much here is great, it’s an awesome place with awesome musicians, but we always had a plan to invigorate our lives and our music careers in Europe. 

How do you evaluate your experiences in Berlin, positively and negatively?

I can only speak for myself and say I’ve never found roots here. It always feels like a place of like transience. You get to explore yourself, your parties, maybe your sexuality, your creativity. All these things that the city has to offer. But, sometimes, I look at the long term and I’ve been here for seven or eight years now and I’m scared for myself to stay any longer because I’m scared this city may begin to have adverse effects. I feel like I’ve gained a lot from Berlin but I never felt like this is home. It will always have a special place in my heart, but I’m always surprised by people that stay here for a long period of time. Which, I know, I have done myself, because somehow it always pulls you back. I hope for everybody’s sake, that they can get out alive.

Tell me about your second album Day/Night. In what ways is it a response to your debut album Parcels

Looking back on that first record, we realised that we were extremely rigid and regimented in our writing and recording process. Everything was overdubbed. Everything had to be so precise, and we did everything so many times. We wanted it to be almost like a Steely Dan piece, this piece of total production mastery. What we realised is that we lost a sense of life and energy and vibrance and authenticity. So, Day/Night was a direct response because we totally changed the writing process and unburdened ourselves and just go with what sounds good.