From sideman to frontman. Dean Parker stands under the spotlight with the release of his first EP.
Newcastle-born Dean Parker is an exciting new artist who made his bones on the music scene as a guitar player. He’s recently taken his first step as a fully-fledged singer songwriter with the release of his new EP This All Tastes Like Yesterday.
After playing guitar, in the background for many years, Dean was inspired to finally take himself centre stage after setting down and penning his own songs. The five track EP highlights Dean’s ability as a musician but it is his talent as a lyricist that makes the record standout. There is a matureness audible in the EP which infuses an Americana folk sound with some distinct northeastern, English, grit.
Each song is a carefully crafted story inspired by Dean’s own experience and interpretation of the world. Sometimes, it’s worth waiting and living before pushing yourself as a solo artist and songwriter.
It’s better to make sure you have something to say and not just the confidence to say it. Dean is living proof that biding your time and picking your moment can result in a collection of songs that will resonate with listeners. His positive attitude, humble nature and genuine love of the craft should stand him in good stead for a long musical career. I managed to have a chat with Dean and dig a little deeper into the release of his EP, his inspirations and his plans for the future.
So, Dean, your first EP This All Tastes Like Yesterday was released on the 24th June. Now that you’ve had some time to process this colossal step in your music career, can you describe to us how it feels?
Hello to you all – It feels good! As opposed to a specific moment in time to me, it’s more the start of a direction and feeling I’ve been waiting on. But yeah, feeling good about it all.
I understand that you’ve been ‘waiting in the wings’ as a guitar player for other projects for a while now. What was it that made you take the leap to the centre of the stage?
Guitar is the first love. Playing for others is class and I want to continue to do that until I cannot. The reason for changing things up is words. I didn’t necessarily have being a ‘singer-songwriter’ on my bucket list, more that I just had lyrics and thoughts to share. That’s the main reason. I’ve fallen in love with language. Writing a lyric I’m happy with and getting to sing it to others is a bigger hit than playing a guitar solo now.
You’ve described your EP This All Tastes Like Yesterday as a collection of short stories. How do you choose the narrative that you want to tell, and what does your writing process look like?
If I could answer the latter half of that question first – While not wanting to be a downer, it’s completely the opposite of what you tend to see in these new, happy, positive ‘how I write a song’ TikTok’s. I do best (currently) sitting alone with a guitar and notes open on my phone just hacking away. An occasional look back at an old, archived idea occurs, but usually I’m a little too lazy to search through the years of unnamed voice notes I’ve stored. Some take minutes, some days, some months. It’s a slog, but I like it that way. I wouldn’t change it right now.
Some narratives are fixed from the offset. Some interweave and some change when writing the tune. I’ll have an initial idea of the tale I want to tell, but then a passing influence may come along and just screw things all up. Not always for bad though.
The band sounds tight and online it appears you are all very close. How important is it to you to have friends involved in your music?
Thank you! With the exception of a few creative overdubs, we cut the record live in the room. What you hear is what occurred on the day. For that reason alone it’s important. We’ve listened to each other play for years through shared house walls and to now play together is class. To say I’m not sure why we didn’t do it earlier would be a lie as we all had other things going down. I guess it was just some good timing.
You recorded the album in a few different spots. Including your own flat! What was the dynamic like in the studio? Did you find yourself taking the lead on everything or was there a collaborative approach between you and the band?
Let’s just be real and call it what it is – a democratic dictatorship! Haha. I’ve always been in bands and found that I was either doing the most or sitting at the back chilling. I struggle to find the in-between and do the everybody having equal weight thing. Everything just takes ages to get done like. So to answer your question, yes. I did take the lead but was in no way oblivious to the fact that someone else’s ideas and thoughts may be far superior to my own. I welcomed those for sure. The band are all amazing musicians and songwriters themselves, so it would be stupid not to listen. Someone has to be the one in the end to say what we’re sticking with though, or we’d be there forever. There’s not enough money for that…..
Not only have you released your first EP but you’ve recently headlined your first hometown gig at The Little Buildings in Newcastle. What was that like?
It was class. We wanted to do something to coincide with the release and to start off things to come. Having moved away from Newcastle as soon as adulthood began, I’ve never really played many shows up here so to do that felt great. Old friends, new friends and complete strangers singing lyrics back to us was just mad. That’s what it’s all about. Seeing lips quietly mouth lines – or potentially slagging us off I guess.
You’ve also published some photos of the gig taken by your brother on Instagram. Do you come from an artistic family? Are family collaborations something that we can look forward to in the future?
Ah the fact that you’ve spotted that really means a lot. Thank you. He’s class. He’s only 6107 days old and is already a mint musician, artist, photographer and more. It’s a little unfair and frankly disrespectful, but you know, it’ll be helpful when he’s older and has a spare room I can crash in.
Directly, I’d say no to being from an artistic family but further afield yes. There’s musicians and artists dotted around all over the place. Being from a direct creative family though? 100%. I think it’s fair to say that they wouldn’t say that but it is the case. 100%.
There seems to be a lot of great music coming out of the Northeast right now. Obviously, Sam Fender is flying. What is so special about that part of the UK?
Everybody has something to say up here right now. I don’t think anyone from these parts is doing it because they’ll get rich quick or for the attention, it’s because of the stories they have to tell. The experiences they have to share. The worlds that need to be shared. And people listen. People listen to each other up here in a way that I had forgotten about. Even if they don’t agree with you, someone will listen and give you the time of day. I think that’s the same for people listening to artists. That historical hard-working attitude that’s engrained in people helps as well. Nobody is going to give up after a week and just stop. I guess to conclude, it’s just positive! Positivity is being craved and it happens to be coming from the toon through art.
I noted a hint of Bruce Springsteen on my first listen to your new EP This All Tastes Like Yesterday. Then I read that your main musical influences were Jason Isbell, Jeff Buckley and Jackson Brown and it all made sense. How much of this Americana, singer-songwriter sound has inspired your new record?
They’re the big 3 for me in terms of songwriting. Really it’s the big 4 – Isbell, Buckley, Browne and Tom Waits, but for promo purposes the fact that Tom starts with a T and not with a J just doesn’t quite work. I think overall it’s the way they craft lyrics that have inspired the record. Telling stories in a variety of ways, but still getting their message across. You might need to listen for years to know what’s going on, you may need to ask somebody else what they think. That’s far better than just having one listen and going, ‘cool, I know exactly what this is about and where it’s going’, to me anyway. I get off on that sort of stuff.
In terms of the sound of the record, it’s the playing live that I’ve definitely taken from them. There’s this lonely togetherness on my favourite records that I felt would have a place on my own.
I’ve heard that while on tour you bumped into an icon of British music, the living legend, Bob Geldof! Can you tell us how that happened?
Aye, that was a bit cheeky of me to be honest, but you can’t waste those sorts of opportunities when they arise. Effectively, I snuck somewhere I wasn’t allowed to be and made enough friends while there (very out of character) that meant I was allowed to be there. Security were still around him all the time, so I waited it out until security all got a photo with him. They were checking their phones, I swooped in, he was very nice.
Speaking of the tour, what other plans do you have scheduled for the rest of this year, and where might our readers be able to see you performing live?
I’ve got shows dotted about until the end of the year and into next. Guildford is a spiritual hometown to me because of the amount of time I spent there so I’m back down that way along with London. A few North East ones and some in between both ends. We’ve got something big coming up as well which unfortunately can’t be mentioned yet, but should be all sorted soon. But hey, I’m not going to sit here and play it cool saying that I’m overflowing with shows. If you or a friend or a friend of a friend or even a friend of a friend of a friend want to see me, give me a shout!
I urge everyone to get out there and have a listen to your first EP and find out the flavour of This All Tastes Like Yesterday for themselves! Before they do that, In your own words, can you describe what yesterday tasted like?
Thanks once again. I everyone that listens connects in some way. I obviously hope people like it, but even a little bit of hate is better than indifference. As long as you feel something and have an opinion. I can describe what yesterday tasted like. It tastes like today. Hopefully tomorrow won’t taste quite the same.
Readers can find out more about Dean on his website, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube along with all the major music streaming platforms.