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Where there's a Will, there's a way to make it big in music

By Herald Express  |  Posted: September 15, 2011

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W ith the global stardom of Muse and now Metronomy's rise to prominence and critical acclaim, these are proving to be remarkable days for South Devon's music scene.

Success breeds success, so they say, and every young hopeful from this neck of the woods who has been inspired to pick up a guitar, match beats on the decks or mess around with a sampler will be hoping they are the next big thing to break through.

But one Torquay musician may well be ahead of the pack — even though he's had to take an unusual route towards the big time.

The Herald Express caught up with 25-year-old Will Parry while he was back in the Bay for a couple of weeks — during which he found time to indulge another of his talents, playing football for Abbotskerswell in the South Devon League — to visit friends and family from his new home in Los Angeles.

LA is where Will put together his four-piece band, Fallen Riviera, who have just completed a five-week tour of the States to showcase their first major CD, 'Six Mines'.

So how did the former Coombeshead College student, who went on to study at the London College of Music in Ealing, end up in the City of Angels in a band with three Americans?

"I left Torquay in 2007 when I went to Boston, Massachusetts, to study jazz piano and film scoring for two years at Berklee College," said Will.

"I found a new world out there. I started writing pop and rock music, and doing more singing and realised that was what I wanted to do.

"Being in Torquay and having lots of people you've been playing with forever was great, but out there I was a tiny fish in a huge pond. At Berklee there were people from all over the world — it was fantastic."

Will had met guitarist Steve Ornest at Berklee and the two decided to make the move to LA in 2009, where bassist Brock Pollock and drummer Mike Sutherland completed the line-up.

Keen to keep a link back to his home town, Will named the band Fallen Riviera — and it's possible to detect a hint of frustration that Metronomy had a similar idea and have stolen something of a march by naming their Mercury Music Prize-nominated album 'The English Riviera'.

Will said: "The name, Fallen Riviera, is a nod back to Torquay. I hadn't heard of Metronomy as they aren't too big out in the States yet, but I'm sure they'll make it out there if they carry on at the rate they're going. They'll get some attention."

Many well-established and successful British acts down the years have tried and failed to 'crack' America. So doing it from scratch required dedication and resourcefulness, and Fallen Riviera came up with a novel way of raising the funds to record their CD and get out on the road.

"We're in talks with people out in LA, an indie label, but we're not signed," said Will.

"We needed some money so we did a thing called kickstarter.com (a funding platform for creative projects which allows fans and benefactors make donations) and we raised $6,000 so we were able to get the record done, get the CDs pressed and do the tour, staying with friends and family in cities across the US."

The CD, 'Six Mines', was recorded at Total Access Studios in Redondo Beach, California, used in the past by bands including Guns 'n' Roses, Black Flag, Duran Duran and Supertramp.

Consequently, it meant Fallen Riviera were able to call upon the services of studio owner Wyn Davis, who has worked with some of the biggest names in the business, to produce the record.

The seven-track CD is a quality collection of well-crafted, radio-friendly songs ('Days of You' and 'Curfew' the pick) featuring joyous vocal harmonies, driving piano and soaring guitar lines.

Will admits to being a Coldplay fan, and the band name U2 and The Beatles among their influences, but there are other forces at work — some of the tracks could have come straight off The Feeling's 'Twelve Stops and Home' breakthrough album, Keane probably wish they'd come up with some of the melodies and arrangements, and even The Hold Steady's 'Boys and Girls in America' — minus the fat Les Paul riffs — bears vague resemblance in some passages.

With the record in the bag, it was time to hit the road and take it to the masses.

"We went out on a five-week cross-country tour in April and May," said Will.

"We went from LA, across the south then all the way to Boston. We played 23 shows in five weeks, which was unbelievable. We drove 8,000 miles, doing newspaper interviews in the day, radio interviews from the tour bus, doing the show at night then hit the road for 10 hours to the next city. It was our first time out on the road and it was wild."

It's the stuff of dreams for anyone who has ever strapped on a guitar and called out '1, 2, 3, 4...' with their mates in a garage, but the reality is that touring on a shoestring budget is hard work.

"It's exhausting," said Will. "There's four guys working every day, there's so little money and so little reward at the time — it's hard.

"We'd do the press, drum up interest and fill a 250-capacity venue one night, then the next night you're playing to 20 people. There are lots of ups and downs."

Despite everything, Will and the band are fired up and believe major success is within their grasp.

"It's do-able, it really is," said Will. "We love doing this and we love each other. We've been out on tour, we've done driving in a van for weeks and we can stand each other.

"We're going back into the studio in October or November and hopefully we'll release a new record in January — then we're looking at doing a college tour across the US.

"It's looking good. I think the next bunch of songs are better, we're getting regular radio airplay in Phoenix and Las Vegas... we've just got to keep going."

For more information on Fallen Riviera and to listen to tracks from 'Six Mines', go to www.fallenriviera.com

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