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Sunday, February 4, 2007, 05:32 PM ( 1128 views )
Bumbershoot – A late recap

I used to collect those mini albums with bubble gum in them. Which I suppose is neither here nor there but I had one of Blondie's Parallel Lines and gum never tasted so good as it did while admiring that album cover and listening to any Blondie song. Live, they have wonderful energy and sound fantastic. My favorite moment: when they first came out with Call Me. This was my first time seeing Blondie, and I do absolutely recommend them.

I also caught the Rishi Rich Project, a group of acts brought together by producer Rishpal Singh Rekhi (aka Rishi) that included Jay Sean, Juggy D and Veronica Mehta. All were in excellent form - it was fantastic to see these artists. They are all top acts – each one could have easily put on a show alone. Veronica has this amazing voice that just should move any one. Girls in the audience went crazy, screaming for Juggy D and Jay Sean. It was a great moment to share.

However, my focus of Bumbershoot was to catch Seattle bands. Specifically I was on the lookout for Romance, Thee Emergency and Daylight Basement. Each of these bands played at the EMP Skychurch, a beautiful venue I wish was used more often for concerts.

First was Daylight Basement, led by Bre Loughlin. They have smooth, instantly likeable and tasty songs with - and this is not a dirty word at all - pop appeal. They are also a fun and beautiful band to watch. Whatever form Loughlin’s work takes next I will be sure to check it out. Daylight Basement will be on hiatus until 2007, which is coming up fast, and with this band Loughlin has created magic.

The following day was Romance, a band both lyrical and brooding. The entire band has a striking presence and though they created an ambience with their show that could be insular,
they somehow managed to pull me in. I think it’s their hypnotic quality that does it. I admire this band not only for their talent but for their stylistic clarity.

Thee Emergency was the last band I set out to cover. I believe they could play anywhere and convert fans. They sent shivers up and down my spine and they play blues as wonderfully as they do rock. Their stage presence is truly staggering and it’s hard to come by sexier music and a sexier band.

Sunday, February 4, 2007, 05:30 PM ( 2756 views )

Shaz, where does you nickname come from?

Shaz: My name Shaz? When I was little I used to live in Essex and I used to go to clubs in Essex. There used to be girls called Sharon and their nickname was Shaz cause they’d go to the clubs in their high heels when they were like sixteen –
Chris – They were easy.
Shaz – Quite easy. They were called Sharons and their nicknames or short for that was Shaz.
Chris – You should see him in high heels. It’s a very Indian name as well.
Shaz – Is it?
Chris – Shabba.

On your website you mention a Jekyl & Hyde quality to your music.

Chris – I think it’s to be exploited more really. It’s something to do with our personalities of the group. There’s a definite split in the personalities – not one person – us all being similar in the ways we can all be extreme characters. The music has to follow suit with that. But really it’s in the same way that, not in the most gloriously same way, the Smiths would play around with happy tunes with melancholic vocals . . . there’s nothing wrong with dynamics changing within a song . . . the name really follows.

How did you find Fierce Panda?

Shaz -We stalked them for a little while.

Chris - We’ve always loved them and sort of dreamt of being with them- we were really lucky because it was, I think it was our second ever gig, it was a night called –

Shaz – Club Fandango –

Chris – Which is a night that Fierce Panda put on in London with a few bands that they are liking at the time and just as our second ever gig we got off at that– we played it and they liked it and we decided to work together.

Shaz- We did one release with them.

Chris- That was actually Suzie, which is out at the moment in England. The single - which we’ve re-recorded and re-released which goes with the album - at the time it was the first song that we got out there so it was a quite exciting time it went straight to radio. We owe a lot to Simon and the family at Fierce Panda. He’s a bit of a maverick, Simon Williams, he has a fuck the law kind of attitude, which is very unusual. It was nice to start off our journey with some one who cares about music.

Your cd has a wonderful balance of instruments’ sound.

Chris – the keys and the guitars fight a lot with each other, totally. When it comes to recording we’ve got a really set idea of the way we’d like it to sound. It’s quite difficult to actually do that. We’ve done it on this record. When we’ve done it on demos and things like that before it’s quite easy to get it wrong because it’s all on the same frequency – you’re bashing the ride cymbal and you get a guitar and keyboards in there and they’re all sort of similar frequencies but you can give it enough space for everything to jump out. . . . that’s down to John (Cornfield) our producer. He’s well into making bands getting their balls out and making it sound like it does live. He’s just great at capturing the acoustic sounds. We wanted it to sound like it was the next step but at the same time trying to be careful not to overproduce it. I think it’s quite easy to slap a whole lot of shit on top of it and ruin it.

Your music is kind of an edgy pop.

Chris - Eggy pop. Kind of stinky. Eggy, whiffy pop.

Is it a bad word? Do you embrace it?

We give it a nice big cuddle, like a hug for about an hour and then stick a knife in the back of it and then chuck it away and then give it another cuddle and apologize and try to heal it up again. We’re not afraid of being pop at all because pop means people dig it on a general level – not to say that we haven’t had years and years of making music that was a bit more – let’s put it this way, we just finished listening to music of bands that we were in when we were about fifteen, cause me and Pete and Shaz we’ve known each other for a long time at school and we’ve been in bands together before, and saying what the fuck were we thinking? When we made this band we said we were going to open the floodgates and concentrate more on the songwriting side of it.

Shaz – I think a lot people would just call pop anything with a hint of a melody. We’re not scared of melodies. They’re great. If that’s what constitutes pop then that’s what we’re doing.

You list Prince as a hero.

Chris – I’m obsessed. I always have been.

What in particular about him?

Chris – Oh my god, how long should we spend sharing our love for Prince music? I think for me, as a kid it was about buying an album that can tell a story. It was about the variety and the total, fucking looseness of his ideas and at the same time how he could capture it and snap it all together in the same family. It was amazing. I think it’s sexy and it’s filthy and dirty at the same time. I think the music itself is really intelligent but I think the fact that he was a total weirdo got me intrigued when I was a little kid. It was the first concert I ever went to – a Prince concert when I was ten and that just totally and utterly fucked me up for the rest of my life basically, because otherwise I could have been a successful businessman. I can’t now, because he’s fucked it all.

Shaz – Now I just want to be a weirdo.

Chris – Yeah, I just want to be a weirdo. The most recent stuff I’m not too hip to. Prince to me sums up the pop star icon in the sense that to me, a true, amazing pop star should be someone you think is from some kind of other world, Michael Jackson included. His music seemed to be coming from some sort of bizarre land that we weren’t allowed to go near. And he’d do an album every year it was just amazing every time. I could go on and on.

What is that sound in one of the songs? A xylaphone (I am told it’s Shoot me Down).

It’s from a melotron, which is a thing the Beatles used a lot in the 60s. You can have the strings melotron and the vibraphone melotron and lots of different trumpet melatron . The melotron is a type of keyboard. We used two or three sounds off this melotron.

Any activities in Seattle?

Chris - We just had a Chinese that was very special, met Tim Burgess outside. He’s very friendly.

Shaz – We met a guy with a really good mustache.

Chris – He said he’s currently growing a mullet. We met a girl who tried to make me like I was chatting her up even though I was only asking if she worked in the cigarette shop and she said her boyfriend was coming back at any minute.

Shaz- The old classic.

Chris – I just said I’m only here to get a packet of cigarettes and that I wasn’t trying to chat her up and she said you’d better go now and be safe, be careful, these streets are dangerous. And as I left there and went next door to the venue I felt very safe. We haven’t really had a chance cause we’ve been stuck in this weird vessel.

Shaz – We’ve just come off a tour where when after playing a gig you kind of have to leave.

What was Top of the pops like?

Chris – It’s something that we always wanted to do. It’s quite a milestone. If people want to take the piss out of the fact that you’ve spent the last five years not working and just trying to be in a band then they always ask so when are you going to be on the Totp then? We were really quite excited about doing, but then when we actually got to do it was just like doing a tv show.

Shaz – That’s what it was.

Chris - It’s a lot more exciting doing gigs. We did love it though. We loved it because – who was playing on the other side of the ring to us who had all those fit backup singers who were winking and sort of fluttering their eyelids ?

Shaz – Atomic Kitten.

Chris – Fucking Stevie Wonder was in there wasn’t he? Kanye West.

Shaz - Yeah. We wandered around the corridors.

Chris – They stuff lots of makeup on you though, man. I saw that and I looked like an old birthday cake, without the candles. My face looked like I was just one big piece of old icing, which upset me. Other than that . . . I’m not letting them get anywhere near my face again, Shaz.

Shaz – I was quite happy with my eyelids.

Chris - You don’t get as many close ups though. My Grandma was happy I was on it though. You’re on totp and she realizes it’s not a total waste of time. Your records out there and people are buying it.

It’s validation for you.

Chris – yeah.

Shaz – In other people’s eyes.

Are you all from London?

Chris – Essex, which is the country.

Shaz – Just outside London.

Chris – You get on a train and you’re in central London in twenty minutes, but then you can hear cows. England’s like that, it’s all squashed together. Here everything’s so fucking massive. In London you can be standing in a cow field. Basically Essex has got a bit of a bad name for the slag factor in England. Essex has a bad name for being easy, like people from Essex are easy, boys and girls give out. The reputation around the country, people are like . . . I don’t know why that is. Why is that?

Shaz- Cause it’s true.

Chris – Is it? How do you know? You’ve never lived anywhere else.

Shaz – That’s true.

Chris – We live in East London now and that’s not so easy, is it?

Shaz – No.

Chris – We live right around the corner to each other so it’s kind of handy, like for practice. We can all play knock down ginger on each other every now and then.


Chris – Maybe it has a different name in America. It’s a game in England where you run up and tap on someone’s door and then run away. Then you find out it’s your best mate, around the corner, laughing. Do you do that thing when you put poo in a paper bag and light it and leave it at the door and they have the flaming poo.

I make jokes about that. Sometimes I think about doing that.

Chris – Do it. Why don’t you do it this year?

They might get see me.

Chris – Wear a balaclava.

Shaz – And run fucking fast. Just get in the car and drive off. Chuck it out of the car. Don’t even get out of the car.

Chris – Get a kid to run out and do it for you. Pay him.

Shaz – Pay him a dollar.

Chris – Here’s a tip: light it after you let go of it. There’s an idea if you ever get bored.

On those late nights.

Chris – Are you a night owl?

I am.

Chris – Are you creative?

Yeah. Are you night owls?

Together – yeah.

Chris – Basically people who are creative are night owls, aren’t they? They get haunted.

Shaz – By themselves.

Chris – Do you go to bed with someone?

Often with my cat.

Chris – Your old hairy lover.

Shaz – What colour is your cat?

Actually I have two cats. One’s a cream tortoise/tabby and one’s a calico.

Chris – I like that, cozy colours. What about a siamese cat?

Siamese cats are crazy.

Chris – If you were a cat what would you be, Shaz?

Shaz – I don’t get on with cats. I would rather have a dog than a cat. I like big cats. I wouldn’t mind a little lion.

Chris – Take it on the bus.

What cat would you be?

Chris – I’d be one of those hairless ones. Really ugly, skinny, no friends.

Shaz – Eyes looking in different directions.

Chris – No tail cause it got cut off when I was little.

Shaz – You had some kid bullying you.

Chris - A tuft of hair sticking out of my left ear.

Those are cute cats though.

Chris – Scars all over my back from when I got abused before I was even born, before I even came out. That would be me. Suffered as a result of my siblings. But I made it cause I got out and I got strong. I used my ugliness to my advantage. I scared the other cats away so I could eat. I became fat. A big fat bald wrinkly scarred cat.

Those cats are very authentic – that’s what they really look like, under that fur.

Chris – It’s true, man. Just like if we were still cavemen we’d be big hairy motherfuckers. We probably would be motherfuckers because they were incestuous in those days. That word is too widely used nowadays. No one actually has sex with their mums anymore.

I think some people probably do.

Chris - Do you reckon? In certain parts of the world.

Shaz - Essex.

Chris – Remember your mates would say but what if your mom was like Claudia Schiffer, you would do, wouldn’t you? I never had a sister but I always wanted one. I mean not for that reason.

Forum – single?

Shaz – No.

Chris – Yes. I am single but Shaz is as well, in his heart.

Have you ever been on a tour bus?

I have.

Chris - Our busses in England don’t look like this. They look like travelling strip clubs. They’re all full of ultramodern neon lights and mirrors everywhere, like you would expect an 80s strip club to be. This is more sort of a 60s brothel.

Shaz - Our bus before this had pink leather seats.

Chris – Can you imagine that, first thing in the morning when you wake up?

Like pepto bismol?

Chris - Like that. It’s kind of like going camping, forever. We’re on the move always now. But I still get that little feeling when I get in my bunk, it’s a bit like cosying down in your tent, listen to every one humming away in their beds, a hubbub of boyish chat.

Shaz – You even get the rain on the roof as you do in a tent.

Chris – The only thing you don’t have is the sound of nature, the animals.

You could get a tape of those sounds.

Chris – Yeah, that would be nice, depending on what mood you’re in.
You could put on a fierce storm at sea or a dolphin pack.

Shaz – I was thinking of cows and sheep.

Chris – Like English sounds. It would be nice to have a stereo tape with a babbling brook and then on the other side wind blowing through a weeping willow tree and the sound of a little kid playing by himself, with a bald cat. Slapping its back.

Shaz – It’s such a great idea.

Chris – Boy Kill Boy sound tapes. Storytelling.

We actually had a bear come into the city.

Chris – Really?

Shaz – Fucking hell, what did you do?

They killed it. It was looking for food.

Shaz – Why did they do that?

Chris - Why didn’t they get a cowboy to lassoo it? It’s like the whale in the Thames. Aimals and the big city they don’t mix do they? It’s a grave shame.

Sunday, February 4, 2007, 05:24 PM ( 1498 views )
Q: I saw you guys open up from someone earlier this year – I can’t remember who it was-

Doyle: Stereolab.

Q: Yeah, that’s right. I came to see you guys.

Doyle: Oh wow. That would have been in March.

Q: Were they good to tour with?

Doyle: Yeah they were a friendly bunch of people, took an interest in what we were doing – which isn’t always the case with bands that you support. They borrowed a keyboard from us as well so they were indebted to us at an early stage, which was good. We did about six shows with them.

Q: Was that the first time you’d been to Seattle?

Doyle: Yeah, it was the first time I had been to the West Coast in fact. We came back to L.A. and San Francisco in August and this is our second time going fully down the West Coast.

Q: Is this your first headlining tour of the West Coast?

Doyle: Apart from those two dates in August. It’s good to be in Seattle. We didn’t have such great weather but I had a good time. We went to Pike Place Market – having a little walk around a few bars and restaurants.

Q: You’re a classically trained cellist – when did you start learning?

Doyle: Maybe six or seven. I’ve been doing music for a long time – different kinds. I ended up doing this kind of stuff. I also have a strong left hand. Worked well for the guitar, like I could pick up the guitar quite easily. I still play the cello, record with it now and again. It might be on the next album, hopefully, I don’t know. I enjoy playing it from time to time. I should play it more – I can still get a sound out of it and everything. Yeah, that’s my background.

I was actually going to ask if you were going to have the cello on any of the CDs?

Doyle: I do some other music with Felix in the band and we’ve done some soundtracks for documentaries and stuff like that. We use the cello on that because it’s a quite pleasing sound and atmospheric. We have some other string players – like on the song Look After Me on The Warning there’s a violin on that. There’s a really good string quartet that we know in London called the Elysian Quartet that have supported us on a couple of shows. They do from Modern classical stuff to Beethoven and have things written for them by UK composers. So we can always draft them in if we need some strings, which is useful.

Q: What kind of documentaries have you worked on?

Doyle: It was a documentary about the Last Lighthouse Keepers in the UK.
Basically all of the lighthouses were automated in 2002, I think. Up to that point there were about three people on every lighthouse and gradually they would stop working at a lighthouse that was about to be automated and keep running that. It was just a strange life that a lot of them led. Now there really aren’t any of them any more. They’re getting pretty old now and it was a chance to listen to some of their stories. It’s a really good documentary. Felix and I will also be working on another one next year with the BFI, which is the British Film Institute. We’re going to have access to their archive to choose a movie and rescore it or possibly score a silent movie. That won’t be towards the end of next year, but that’s going to be a really interesting project. We all do kind of bits and bobs on the side, apart from Hot Chip. It’s kind of good to have that breadth and have different projects that can give you a break from doing the album. That often can inform that process as well – you can also be a bit more experimental, like when we do remixes and things for other bands we can try out some things that you wouldn’t necessarily think of. It’s useful as a kind of study and just improving your technique, I suppose compositionally – like with technology.

The cello’s kind of a sorrowful instrument, isn’t it?

Doyle: It can be. It’s equivalent to the tenor voice, I suppose. It’s got a very wide range so you can go right down to the bottom there but you can still actually go surprisingly high as well. It seems to be a very expressive instrument – all string instruments are but the cello seems to be a lot of people’s favorite. I’m lucky that I learned it, I suppose.

Q: You do a lot of the remixing?

Doyle: We all do. Joe and Alexis do some and sometimes I might work with Alexis or Felix and I work together mostly. And Owen sometimes as well. It generally ends up doing two teams of remixes, which means we can get a lot more done. Which is great. We enjoy it – the only thing that’s bad about it does take up a bit of time, and we don’t have that much time to do our own music. So when you’re at home and not touring you sort of like you might prefer to get on with your own stuff rather than do a remix. Up to now it’s just been paying the rent basically, they bring in a bit of money and we’ve needed it. Now it’s got to the stage where we can pick and choose a little bit more, we don’t have to take everything is thrown at us. We’re being a bit more choosy about who we’re remixing. Sometimes it can take a day or something but sometimes it can take 2-3 days. It just depends on what you’re working with or how creative you’re feeling.

Q: Are there songs out you’d really love to do?

Doyle: Anything with a really good vocal. A lot of stuff we do that’s what lets it down. Somebody who hasn’t got a voice that’s worth listening to, basically. We did remixes for a lot of UK guitar bands for a while and they were just these kind of shouty, very unsubtle singing basically. So we’d take like one syllable or one word and – cause obviously they like you to have a bit of vocal in it but we try to get away with as little as possible if it’s bad.

Q: You’re from Leeds?

Doyle: Yeah. Joe, Alexis and Owen are kind of Southwest London. Felix actually grew up near the British Museum in the center of London. I’ve been down in London for the last four-five years. I’m enjoying it, it’s good. Now we’re all actually living a bit closer together. Felix lives just up the road. Felix and I have a studio in the building I live in – so we can do Hot Chip stuff there. It’s lucky for me, I just roll out of bed and into the studio to do some work.

Q: Do you feel a little different from the rest of them?

Doyle: Yeah, though do sort of mention my different roots now and again. But it’s never really a big deal. I’ve had a lot of friends in London for a long time so I know the city pretty well. I like going back and seeing my family. When I go back North I get back more of my accent, but when I’m down in London I don’t have that strong of an accent. I’ve been accepted.

Q: You’re all doing something on stage – no one’s lazy up there. How do you do it?

Doyle: We’re very busy. I personally don’t like to be just standing around. I feel uncomfortable if I’m not doing anything. A lot of the songs will have natural gaps in them and I’ll try to find something else to do. At the moment we’ve got some congas on stage so I’ll do some percussion. There’s always something to do because we’ve got quite a lot of instruments- more instruments than we can actually play at the same time. There’s four keyboards, two guitars – if someone’s playing a guitar then that means there’s an extra keyboard free – for instance on the first song on the album Careful, when we do that live I play both keyboards at the same time. Trying to multitask. It can probably be an error, maybe we should try to tone down the texture a bit in some cases, but it’s just too much fun. We can make these big sounds with these keyboards so that’s just what’s been happening. We have actually stripped it down a little bit because we’re playing with a live drummer now so that makes for a much fuller sound straightaway. We’ve had to pull a few things back and incorporate that more into the group. It’s starting to work really, really well. We don’t normally have a live drummer but we tour with Pat Mahoney from LCD Soundsystem. He’s done a few shows with us in the US and now he’s doing the whole tour with us.

Q: Putting things together and layering. How hard is it not to sound messy?

Doyle: Live we’ve just gotten a little bit better at playing. We’ve done so many shows. This year we did twenty-six festivals from May to August, a couple of tours in the middle of that. We’ve been on tour since September, so we did three weeks in Europe, three weeks in the UK and three weeks in the US as well. So pretty much three months on the road and hundreds of shows, so naturally you’ll get a lot tighter and the song structures are quite fluid. The instrumentation is quite fluid as well so there’s a lot of room to change and improve and figure out what works and what doesn’t. It’s not something that is very consciously decided but it’s something that’s more like an evolution. There’s quite a lot of communication going on onstage. It didn’t used to be like that. When we first started out, especially with the stage setup that we had, when we were all in a line, we were basically all locked into what they were doing. Like watching five guys doing individual concerts but they happened to be on the same stage at the same time. Whereas now we’ve got more of a curve going on and we can look at each other a bit more. There’s a bit more of a group feel to what we’re doing and we’re not concentrating so hard on getting our parts right because we play it everyday and we can look around and listen to some other people. Like a proper band.
In terms of recording, it’s building things up by layers, constantly listening and figuring out what’s too prominent and what can be tucked underneath. I know that Joe and Alexis wanted the album to be something you could listen to repeatedly and discover new things in the mix you might not have noticed on the first listening. Like there are little things that will reveal themselves as you listen more, which is quite good. I don’t think you’d get that in a normal live recording of a band. If you look at some of those songs on the computer there’s so many different tracks and different little bits coming in.
It should be quite rewarding, hopefully, as a listening experience.

Q: How do you decide which sounds you’ll use. Like the xylophone, I am obsessed with xylophones.

Doyle: Oh really? It’s actually a glockenspiel that’s on the CD. But funnily enough we just played with Dennis Young, who’s the marimba player in Liquid Liquid, a seminal sort of experimental disco group – you know the White Lines by Grandmaster Flash, that’s a sample from one of their songs. You’d recognize a lot of their songs because they’re really heavily sampled for hip-hop. Young contacted us through myspace and said hey, you’re playing in New York, mind if I come and play with you? It was like, wow, this is unbelievable – he’s a real legend. He played about three songs with us on marimba. We’re a big fan of those kind of sounds although they can be overused sometimes – it’s difficult to not make them sound a bit twee. But sometimes it is just the right thing. Whenever we’re choosing sounds it’s just whatever’s best for the song. People always go on about how we use cheap keyboards or casios. It’s not necessarily just because it’s cheap that we like it, it’s just that happens to be a sound that is nice and maybe we spend 1,500 pounds on another keyboard and use that as well. But there’s nothing to say that one’s better or worse just because how much they cost or where you got it from. It’s just a case of looking at things very objectively and deciding what would work best for the song and what sounds best. I’m sure that’s how most people go about doing this kind of music. Or I hope it is. People shouldn’t fetishize certain sounds as being the ultimate thing, like when the 303 kind of acid sounds used to be really popular, I mean it’s a really great sound and we have a 303 but it’s become this kind of thing above and beyond itself. I don’t think that’s very good when that happens.

Q: How surprised are you by the response you’ve received in the States? I wasn’t the only one you came just to see you as openers.

Doyle: It was crazy – I think Stereolab were quite surprised as well. We’re constantly surprised by people coming to our gigs. Or how they know about us. Because the album is selling alright but it’s not flying off the shelves in the US by any means. There are a lot of people who are sharing music and there’s a lot of our tracks on blogs and stuff in the US and also there’s been quite a lot of good reviews and articles in local and national press for us. We deliberately came over (to the States) in August even though it was only going to be a very short trip – If we hadn’t played in the US as much I think people might have forgotten about us a little bit – so it was important to do that. It just sort of helped maintain the interest. I think the live shows are a big part of that. People seem to particularly enjoy some of the live versions of the songs that we do, and they’re very vocal about them. A lot of our fans seem to be very willing to talk about us and to convert other people, which is great. But otherwise I have no idea why they seem to being picked up on. I mean the songs are poppy and they’re easy to listen to. There’s nothing too difficult, we’re not trying to do anything that’s too way out. Obviously there’s some very experimental aspects to the music but we’re not deliberately trying to create any barriers. We want everything to be accessible and danceable. I think people pick up on that and hopefully get excited about that.

Q: Your nickname is Al-Doit?

Doyle: Not really, no. It was just in a press release.

Q: Do people call you that?

Doyle: No, no one calls me that. I think there was just a point where people were trying to put in nicknames. Originally I suppose what it came from was that I was the last person to join the band. It wasn’t really clear what my role was going to be. There used to be a live drummer and then Felix started playing drum machines and we didn’t have a drummer. Then maybe I was going to play drums, because I was a drummer as well, and then people were saying we need someone to play some synth as well and it became, I’ll do it – in every situation. I think that’s sort of where it came from.

Q: They were called Hot Chip when you joined?

Doyle: Yeah, Hot Chip as a music making entity has been going since, like 97 probably, when Alexis and Joe as a duo self-released some stuff in the UK. And then they had an ep out on a very small label called Victory Garden records in the South of England in 99 or something like that. The switch to a more electronic bass kind of poppy sound was only just before Coming on Strong, which was when they started to get the band together. Since we’ve become a band it’s obviously become a different entity. Hot Chip, as people know Hot Chip, has only been going for just over three years.

Q: What’s your favorite song to play live?

Doyle: New songs, I suppose, is always going to be the obvious one. We’ve got new songs in the set – one is not really a new song for us because we’ve been playing it for about seven or eight months, but it’s not released yet. There’s one particular one which is quite pacy and fast and it’s a lot of fun – you’ll probably notice when we play a new song because we’re all a bit more animated. I enjoy playing Over and Over because the crowd reaction that is always amazing. We play it at the end and people always seem to really go for it in that song. We get to do our real, sort of rocking out Status Quo stuff on that song. We’ve also been enjoying playing a lot of new acoustic songs. We’ve been doing some radio sessions here in the US and Europe. For those sessions it’s just me, Joe and Alexis, just a guitar, one keyboard and some percussion – very stripped down versions of the songs.

Sunday, February 4, 2007, 05:21 PM ( 2762 views )
The Blakes are a band I saw for the first time a year ago and was thrilled by their energy, sound, and presence. As a trio comprised of Bob Husak [drums] and brothers Garnet Keim [guitar, vocals] and Snow Keim [bass, vocals], they a truly exciting band.
I recently had dinner with them at a local Greek restaurant, where we talked about touring through unique locations, how they have escaped some dangerous situations, and why they are doing things their way.

What’s it like visiting home now?

Garnet: We grew up this kind of small town, and every time we go back, it’s so small that your mom goes to the grocery store or to the video store and she gets “so when are the boys coming back”? It’s like everybody knows about you –

Snow: My therapist says it’s called being a celebrity.

Q: You grew up in Maine?

Snow: Kind of. I was born in Alaska – I moved to Maine when I was about, 10.

Garnet: I was raised in Maine and grew up on the West Coast, if you want to put it that way.

Q: Garnet, you’re the older brother?

Garnet: Yeah, I’m older than Snow.

Q: Was he an obnoxious little brother?

Garnet: Yeah, he used to beat me up. I’ve always been the weak one in the family. I’m the biggest and tallest but I’ve always been beat on by a lot of people.

Q: That’s sad.

Garnet: I know. Snow used to take me down - well he was a champion wrestler for a while. He was a wrestler – You did really well at wrestling, Snow.

Snow: I was going to pull the family out of poverty. I sprained my ankle at the European Wrestling –

Bob: It ended your career.

Q: And that was it?

Garnet: You [Snow] were good in history and you loved the chess club. And then he was really good at jujitsu.

Snow: I was trying to get a job as a bouncer.

Garnet: You were just a tough kid. You grew up tough. You never really had a lot.

Snow: Grew up on the streets of Maine.

Garnet: The mean streets of Maine.

Q: Garnet, I remember talking to one time –

Garnet: Oh god what did I say?

Q: You were talking about your artwork.

Garnet: Yeah, I did a comic for our band. We had a really bad show – in Walla Walla. We drove all the way to Walla Walla, it’s about a 6 and a half, 7-hour drive and we get there and there was no show. They didn’t bother to tell us. So we did a 13-hour day. I did a little comic book, about 15 pages. I illustrated it and wrote the whole story to kind of blackball the place. I called it the Glass Ceiling, cause it felt like we weren’t getting any bigger or any higher – we’re doing all this work and we just hit this flatline. But yeah, I do a lot of the artwork for the albums and stuff like that [along with Heather McElroy’s Yep Industries].

[At this point there is an interruption in conversation as a dish is served to a nearby table. The dish is some sort of meal on fire].

Snow: Cool.

Garnet: Wow.

Bob: What happened?

Garnet: We should order that next time.

Snow: I want to do that.

Garnet: I don’t know what that was but it sounds exciting . . . Yeah, I do some artwork here and there.

Snow: When Garnet was in high school he wanted to move to San Francisco and take drugs and do art.

Garnet: Street art. And then die. Really misdirected. And then I decided that I wanted to be a chiropractor. I started going to the University of Maine at Farmington. I was a bio chem major. I did that for 3 years and I dropped out of that after I got a lead role in a play. That changed my life. I never looked back. We just kept working on our band and moved out here. That was that.

Snow: Most people don’t know this about Bob, but he was a championship runner in high school. One of the best on the island.

Bob: I was a pretty fast runner.

Snow: You raced the state champ and you beat him.

Bob: No, I raced the fastest kid in school. He gave me a 50 meter head start. I think it was a tie.

Snow: Oh, well that’s still pretty good.

Bob: When I was younger than that I was the fastest kid in my class, but I never really followed up on it.

[At this point another flaming dish arrives].

Q: So, Bob, you grew up around here – in the San Juans?

Bob: No, we had a cabin in the San Juans. I kind of grew up in Edmonds, then we moved to Spokane, then Whidbey Island. That’s where I went to high school.

Q: So Garnet and Snow, you moved here together and found Bob.

Garnet: We found Bob.

Snow: We found God, I mean Bob –

Garnet: He was the first person we met when we pulled in to Seattle.

Q: Oh no he wasn’t.

Garnet: Honestly. He was the first person we spoke to in Seattle. I’ll show you how it went. We came down from Vancouver and we were just driving around and we hit Denny and this guy started screaming at us.

Q: And that was Bob.

Garnet: No, that was the first person who spoke to us . . . We got to Queen Anne and I wanted some coffee. So we pulled over to this shop and got talking to this weird guy behind the counter about where was a good place to work or do you know of place we could stay . . . and we just started talking. We all had a common love for British music and British pop.

Snow: He started camping out at our apartment.

Bob: You guys had a tent in there for a while.

Snow: We were living in the hostel. We lived there for about 3 or 4 months.

Q: The one downtown?

Snow: Yeah, the Green Tortoise.

Garnet: We were playing on the streets, busking, just to live. We didn’t know anybody. We made about $70 a day on Saturday and Sunday – near Tully’s. We would buy McDonald’s burgers. We ended up getting jobs at Tully’s – I worked with Bob there and Snow worked in Magnolia.

Snow: We did that (busked) because we couldn’t play in the bars – we were under 21.

Bob: Things were pretty bad in Seattle in the late 90s.

Snow: The Sit N’ Spin had just closed -

Bob: - and RCKNDY

Garnet: There had been a Mayor’s Ordinance.

Snow: DV8 wasn’t there, was it?

Garnet: Everything was done.

Bob: One time I went to Swing Night at DV8.

Garnet: Remember that swing craze in the late 90s?

Bob: The worst thing about it was they were doing this class before you actually danced, and they had people there who were really good. I partnered up with this girl who was really good and – she was really mean.

Snow: Did she think you had lead feet?

Bob: No, but I didn’t know how to lift her up.

Snow: Those girls don’t mess around. If you’re a mover and a shaker you can get a date, otherwise . . .

Bob: I never got into it. After that I never went swing dancing.

Garnet: You probably didn’t miss that much, honestly. I always like the Squirrel Nut Zippers. I never felt like they were a swing band. I always thought that was a man singing, but it turns it was a woman. I always thought the woman was a cross-dresser. It was weird. I remember I was working out in a weight room and hearing the song Put A Lid On It –

Snow: This is getting very homoerotic. Thinking about a man dressed up like a woman and you’re really into it . . .

Garnet: I was doing curls. Snow, you’re disturbing the guests. You’re screaming - you’re probably drunk.

Q: So, memorable shows, good or bad?

Garnet: Well, probably the worst was Frostburg.

Bob: [Agrees] Frostburg.

Garnet: Getting whipped in the basement with a belt. That was awesome.

Q: What?

Garnet: Our whole band got held down and beaten.

Bob: I never got whipped.

Garnet: He ran away.

Bob: They kept trying to talk to me.

Snow: Okay, Frostburg is some weird mountain town in western Maryland.

Garnet: Close West Virginia.

Bob: All these weird toothless locals. There’s a college there that’s kind of nice, but –

Garnet: And it’s cold there all the time.

Snow: [We played at] the Regal Beagle.

Bob: And we played to all these toothless locals. They were crazy.

Snow: They were nice, but crazy.

Garnet: To make a long story short, we had an afterparty at a house, in the basement, and they start hauling out moonshine that they’d actually made. It was 100 proof.

Bob: Rotgut.

Garnet: The girls at the party get bent over, quickly - they’re all kind of punks and the guys have these spiked belts. And the girls start to whip them.

Snow: Squealing like pigs.

Garnet: And then the guys start beating the guys and then they’re like, wait, we haven’t beaten the band yet.

Bob: They started chanting, get the Blakes, get the Blakes.

Snow: I was in the corner trying to mack on some toothless girl I thought was cute. I didn’t get hit.

[They did get Garnet]

Garnet: I had my arms held behind my back.

Bob: This one guy, all night, was saying, ‘Bob, come here’. And then I’d avoid him and he’d forget about it. Then he’d remember.

Garnet: Cause they were so drunk.

Bob: No, no, come here Bob.

Garnet: I don’t know if that was the best or the worst, but that was an intense one. I mean, we’ve had guns pulled on us.

Snow: In Georgia we went to where they shot Deliverance. We got to tour the slave graves.

Bob: Marked with just flat stones.

Snow: There was a regular cemetery and then there was the slave cemetery.

Garnet: It was really weird to see that. These graves were marked but just with these flat stones.

Snow: You don’t see it in Atlanta. It was in these places where only our band, for some reason, has gone. Really out of the way type venues. The band that was opening for us, their hair was down to here, and they weren’t wearing shoes. They were barefoot.

Snow: One girlfriend came between their whole band -

Bob: She’s reading a book the entire time -

Snow: . . .read a book through the entire show. He covered You Spin Me Round. . .
He got down on the table and started shaking his hair. And it was our band, his girlfriend, and about two other people, going yeah.

Bob: Right before the show he was like, we wanna welcome the Blakes to Georgia – this is where the players play.

Snow: That was the first tour.

Garnet: That pretty much sums up our touring.

Snow: We had about 200 nights of that.

Bob: We just got an email from the Downtown Lounge in Tennessee – he was like, we’re still rockin’ your demo.

Garnet: One of the only two cities in America that has sidewalks that are on a second story.

Bob: They have the regular sidewalk and then another sidewalk that’s above the street. They have shops up there but now it’s a ghost town.

Snow: We had so many experiences like that when we first started touring. It’s not like just doing the club circuit.

Bob: We were pioneers.

Garnet: We starved out there. We ate potted meat. People still remember us from Project Rathole, though.

Bob: It wasn’t even a club. It was this judge [in Texas] – he was a crooked judge. He got disbarred.

Garnet: But he had this nice property.

Snow: And two wolves. Remember the wolves?

Bob: There were these two wolves that were sitting around the swimming pool and every time you’d go to use the bathroom these wolves would come up to you. And they were huge.

Snow: Real wolves.

Bob: He’d made this venue and called it Project Rathole. And all these crusty punk kids would show up.

Snow: There’s not one independently owned store in the whole area. It’s all commercial chains. Those [kids] were so extreme with their punk ideals because there just wasn’t any normality. It was all new businesses.

Snow: One kid was so carried away during a song, he cut himself with a razor blade across his chest.

Bob: Yeah, he almost died.

Snow: That’s the kind of stuff you just don’t see. After playing all those places, coming back to Seattle, we felt like – let’s play somewhere where the whole band feels comfortable, where we all like. The city [Seattle] is just a really great place to live. We love it up here.

Bob: You don’t know how nice this city is until you’ve been everywhere else.

Snow: You’ve got KEXP – independent radio.

Q: What’s happening with the new cd?

Garnet: We’ve done a bunch of showcases for major labels, but we’re not going to go that route. Our goal is to keep producing at least a record a year. We definitely have the songs. I just can’t wait to get this one out so we can do the next one. We get tired of material so fast.

Snow: Every one was like, wait to get a label. And we thought about doing that. It didn’t feel right. What does it matter if we put out our record now, to our friends and Seattle? If a label wants to come and help out, fine. But we’re not going to sit around and wait.

Garnet: Anytime you sign with a major you’re put on hold for basically a year. The downside is that [doing it on our own] it turns you into a little business mogul. I think there’s a lot more that bands are finding out about this whole thing of doing it for yourself. It’s not as easy as it sounds, and not only that it puts you in a very compromising position.

Snow: You don’t want to look at yourself as a product. You have to sell yourself.

Garnet: It’s weird. There are no guarantees.

Snow: You don’t have any strings attached.

Garnet: This is the first record we’re really trying to do it right [with] out of the four records we’ve done.

Snow: We hoard our records the way the Gollum hoards his ring. We never released anything officially.

Garnet: We’ve been going to the post office a lot.

Snow: We’re getting fans in the post office. [They’ll say stuff] ‘These don’t look like demos, these look like press kits. A long time ago there was a little band called Soundgarden. And I was mailing their press kits, too’.

Q: They talk about stuff?

Garnet: Yeah, he told us the whole story.

Snow: [The guy at his post office says] ‘It’s all about numbers. Send enough out and there’s someone out there that loves your band and just doesn’t know it yet’.
We call him post office Buddha.

Q: Why the Blakes?

Garnet: I got it in a dream. We had two different names we were using when in L.A. One was Blu and we decide to do this one - Johnny Rockstar.

Snow: What about Call us Girls?

Garnet: We even had a theme song for that one. I had a dream that we had a band called the Blakes.

Snow: It was the Blakes or Pink Junior. The Blakes may morph into Pink Junior at some point.

Q: So no association with anything Blake?

Garnet: When Robert Blake shot his wife the helicopters were circling our studio. He lived a mile down from where we recorded our first record. It could have had something to do with of that.

Snow: Garnet was so traumatized.

Bob: We were recording that album right next to where they were shooting Passions – that daytime soap where they were all witches and weird stuff.

Q: Did you see the actors a lot?

Snow: All the time. We’d go to the pisser and see those actors.

Q: Did they look strange?

Snow: They were beautiful. I didn’t realize how beautiful actors were until you got up close.

Garnet: They looked like they were from outer space – a galaxy from far, far away.

Sunday, February 4, 2007, 05:15 PM ( 937 views )

Q: What happened with the show with Radio 4 last time you were here?

Thomas: Well, no one showed up. That usually does it. I mean, people were there. We always have a good time no matter what. We’ll always put on a show and we’ll always have a good time. Sometimes when you’re on tour and you’re putting in so much time and you look so much forward to the way things are going to happen every night and you kind of have those duds once in a while. The other 20 hours of your day were in preparation for rocking and then you show up – I hate the duds. I can’t stand the duds.

Q: Was Radio 4 fun to tour with?

Thomas: Yeah, they were great. We’re nice guys. Maybe it’s a Canadian thing, but in our opinion there are no mean bands.

Q: I read you were born on the Isle of Guernsey. Do you visit there?

Thomas: No, I don’t even know why that made it into the bio. It’s kind of weird.

Q: Is it the one with the cows? Wait I am thinking of Jersey.

Thomas: Jersey is our rival. Jersey is like ten times as big. There’s the Jersey cow and the Guernsey cow, but have you ever heard of the Guernsey cow?

Me: I’ve heard of the Jersey cow. I’ve seen the Jersey caramel.

Thomas: Their cows are so sweet.

Q: On tour you have a hand clapper – he claps and plays keyboards, too?

Thomas: He doesn’t know how to play keyboards. He has a keyboard in front of him. I have all these laser sounds that I’ve created – I just program these different laser sounds into the sampler and he can press any button he wants and something is going to come out. That’s his keyboard ability. And he claps. But today, tomorrow and the next day will be the first shows we’ve ever not played with the clapper. He’s not here – he went to L.A. I don’t know how we’re going to do it – we’re supposed to be a five piece band. It’s totally weird. Luckily the stage is pretty small here.

Q: How was San Francisco? A madhouse?

Thomas: I guess when you tour with a band like Scissor Sisters and things are a little bit wacky already – SF shows were totally out of control. They were like shows I have never played before in my life. Pretty much the nicest crowd in the world, mostly gay. Tons of very large men dressed as women all over the place. At certain points audience members mouthing the words I love you with little tongue gestures. We had men’s shirts thrown at us while playing.

Q: Was that the first time that had happened to you?

Thomas: That is the first time. Scissor Sisters have this hula hooper guy in a tiny little thong – it was different than any show. Ever. And the after show party was even crazier.

Q: Are you having a party too?

Thomas: In Seattle? I don’t know. They never tell me. They tell me at the last second, like as they’re leaving. And then we (Small Sins) go and we’re like your dad. We’re at the gayest place of all time, trying to fit in.

Q: Dancing?

Thomas: We’re like, I can dance. All these sweaty dudes. I’m all about wearing my gay hat. Trying to fit in.

Q: Have you gotten a vest?

Thomas: You just have to take your shirt off altogether. It’s crazy, so much fun. They (Scissor Sisters) are the funnest band in the world.

Q: I read in RS they read a lot on tour?

Thomas: I haven’t seen them read. I’m sure they probably read, on their bus. I’ve never seen them reading while on the dance floor.

Q: Do you like dancing?

Thomas: I love dancing. I’ve been reading, more than ever.

Q: What have you been reading?

Thomas: I’ve just about finished DBC Pierre’s Ludmilla’s Broken English. It’s pretty good.

Q: Is it a heavy book?

Thomas: No, not really. I really like Chuck Foster. He writes for Spin. He has three books, they’re all really great. Short chapters – you can put it down for a week and then pick it up again and read it all day.

Q: Who made the decision to wear all white on stage?

Thomas: A friend of mine was wearing all white one day and she looked super hot and I was just starting rehearsals with the band for the first time. I was trying to think of things we could do – I just wanted to be unified somehow. It’s not like it means anything. I just wanted to look like one unit. That was just a cheap and easy way to do it.

Q: You must use a lot of bleach.

Thomas: The bleach pen is the best – the Tide bleach pen. You dab it on every spot that’s like really bad and then wash it in the Tide with bleach.
They come out spotless.

Cool – that’s a good tip for my white clothing. I hardly ever buy anything white.

Thomas: It is after labor day.

Q: The bass is my favorite instrument – though you play all the instruments on the cd why did you choose to play it?

Thomas: I guess it’s the one instrument that’s constant. Everybody else has to make certain changes while they play. I can concentrate on singing – in my old band I used to play bass as well so I am used to it. Most of the music is very melody based and if the vocal’s not right then nothing else really matters.

Me: I’m not trying to sound like I am sucking up but your voice is one of the most beautiful I have ever heard – it’s like another instrument.

Thomas: Really? I hate to disappoint you but live I sing everything an octave up. Doesn’t that blow the whole cover? I just like it to be more energetic.

Q: You recorded part of the cd in your parents’ basement?

Thomas: A little bit. I moved around a lot. I didn’t have much equipment at the time. I hadn’t gotten as nerdy about recording as I would become this year. When my parents went on vacation I totally converted their house in to a studio. But that was really only two or three weeks of the process of a year. Later I moved to various rehearsal spaces. These days I am a little bit more secure. I have my own space and a lot more junk. At the time though it was like wherever would have me.

Q: Was it a cleansing cd to make?

Thomas: It was definitely the first music I ever made that was completely just for me. When I first started recording and I had quit my other bands and I was kind of considering not being in a band again and not really trying to put out records. I’m a little older, maybe I should try to find a real job one day. I just started recording music purely for fun and not to play for any body. Like reading a book or playing video games. I really like the process of recording music on my own, it’s my hobby. It totally changed the music as soon as I started doing it for myself. I played it for a couple of friends and it got out really fast. People wanted to give me money. That job thing was all just a dream. It made me look at music in a whole new way and learn a lot of different things about myself.

Q: Such as?

Thomas: What I like in music. Not trying to impress any body, except yourself. I could do really silly things, and I like them. Like the keyboard solo on It’s Easy is pretty much the silliest piece of music ever, but I really love stuff like that. In bands before I would never take chances like that. Somebody might think that’s lame or whatever even thoug I really liked that and your tastes become really streamlined. You don’t have to worry about anybody saying no, whereas sometimes when you’re in a band with other dudes and you have a musical choice that’s a little bit risky it can kind of go either way. Someone’s gonna veto it every time. I know there’s obviously a lot of great music that’s collaborative but for me it never really worked out for some reason.

Q: Stay? Is it a farewell song?

Thomas: No. It’s about wanting to have a relationship with somebody without wanting to have sex with them. I guess I just haven’t had that many female friends that I didn’t want to have sex with. Sometimes friends who are beautiful people, who happen to be women and I love the relationship that I have with them, but . . . I’m not the right guy for you, we’re cool. Find a real boyfriend, cause I’m going to be on the road all the time anyway so why would you want me? I want you here all the time but I don’t want to have sex with you.

Q: Devo was mentioned in your bio. You’re a big fan?

Thomas: I love the Devo. I actually only own one Devo record, which is phenomenal, which is Are We Not Men, We Are Devo.

Q: Have you seen them?

Thomas: No.

Me: I saw them a couple weeks ago.

Thomas: Was it the new Devo?

No: Devo.

Thomas: I hear they sent out some kids. Devo 2K or whatever.

Q: What’s next for you?

Thomas: We’re co-headlining with a band called the Little Ones. I think they do well in California so I think they’ll headline there and then we’ll headline the rest of the country.

Q: And you’ll headline here.

Thomas: I think so. I like Seattle.

Q: What about how you fit in with Canadian music. Do you feel separate?

Thomas: Yeah. When other people are doing really well around you, you tend to step it up. When there’s a lot of success happening in your circle, it just feels more possible. There’s a certain confidence to get it done in the first place. It makes you feel good to see these other bands doing well and you feel like you can do well.

Me: And compete with them.

Thomas: And compete with them.

Q: What bands would you like to tour with?

I really love Spoon. This band called Starlight Mints – they’re from here? They’re great.

Sunday, February 4, 2007, 05:07 PM ( 1331 views )
The Futureheads is one of my top ten bands ever, hands down. Combining melody, harmony - how do you describe something that you just have to listen to and let it take over your world? For the Futureheads create worlds in each song in the way film plays before your eyes. It jars, it snaps, then it caresses. Their second album, News and Tributes, released on June 13th in the States, seals the deal.

Ross Millard, singer/guitarist/writer and one quarter of the Futureheads, spoke with me just before a show he was set to do in the U.K. There are many things I want to know about the Futureheads, and so narrowed my questions down to a few for Millard, whose voice is perfection spoken and sung.

How did Return of the Berserker come about?

Millard: That was more or less fully improvised. We were very conscious with the new album that it was a little bit more controlled, well, a little bit less crazy in a way. So we made an effort to have certain songs or certain moments on the album that were completely the opposite of that, very much a hark back to the earlier days maybe. We had a couple of rules: Barry would keep a riff going and the rest of us would count in and out at random intervals and he wouldn’t have any idea when we were going to join in again. It was just like a little project at first and then it became a really nice piece of music to have in the middle of the record because it was so contrasting with the songs on either side of it.

There’s singing in it also - in the background.

Millard: There’s like a lead vocal really heavily distorted.

You did a version of Fit But You Know it with the Streets’ Mike Skinner

Millard: He’s on the same label as us and he wanted a live band to do a version of that song for the single. He’s not really the kind of artist who works with live musicians so much. So 679 asked if we’d submit a version and people liked it enough to use it as the version with a band recording. We didn’t actually meet him in the flesh until much later - we just got the track sent to us in the studio.

Would you do another one?

Millard: I don’t know. Maybe - it would be nice to see if we could work the other way around. Someone like that remix one of our songs rather than us always reinterpreting other people’s songs because as much as we like doing that with other musicians and stuff, there’s a temptation to want to just write your own music. We’ll have to wait and see.

Millard: What song would he do?

Area would be a good one, I guess - a similar sort of subject matter to the kind of thing that he would sing about - the town he grew up in, the state of play that it’s in. It would be interesting to see what someone like that could do with one of our songs but I shouldn’t hold my breath for it to happen.

You never know.

The Song Man Ray, is it about the artist?

Millard: It is absolutely [inspired by him] - it’s not really about him. I think the premise of the song is - I didn’t write that one - to try and woo a girl by getting into Man Ray and Weston and stuff. Discovering art as a way to woo a woman.

Meatyard article was impressive. You are interested in photography? Have you studied it?

Millard: I’ve never studied it or anything. I’m sort of at an amateur level - I’m very much interested in it. I do always have a camera with us - it’s more exciting to take pictures when you’re out of the U.K. for some reason. I never seem to be struck with too much inspiration. I guess because all the towns you end up playing in the U.K. you’ve been to a million times before. It’s more a way to document what we’re doing rather than anything else. As far as technique’s concerned I’m not particularly well versed. It’s nice to keep your fingers in the pie so as to speak.

What did you study at university?

Millard: I did English literature.

Favorite writers?

Millard: I really like hard-boiled fiction, noirish stuff. Raymond Chandler. Dashiell Hammet. I also like Saul Bellow, Ralph Ellison (Invisible Man - I love that book). It’s really hard to pin down specific people.

Let’s talk about News and Tributes.

Millard: I guess it works in a similar way to what Danger of the Water does in the first record. It’s about the Munich air disaster that involved the Man United Football Team. It’s not at all about that incident because of it specifically being Man United or football but more because there’s elements of a real human tragedy in it. Everyone likes a good tragedy every now and again - it’s nice to sink your teeth into something that poignant. It’s a bit of a challenge to write about as well cause you look at the landscape of rock n roll lyrics and it’s a bit two dimensional to say the least, isn’t it? I’ve always liked bands and artists who write songs about things that you never really would expect to be written about.

Are you a Man U supporter?

Millard:Yeah, I am - that’s kind of where the song started out more as kind of a project to see if I could write a song about that without it necessarily being a Futureheads song in the beginning. When we came to record the other lads liked it enough to want to work out the version for us to do as a group sort of thing. There are a lot of songs like that one of us will have that stylistically would never work in the band so it’s always nice to eventually work through that . . . something that doesn’t sound like it would work in the band eventually becomes important for the new record.

You said you had a goal to Nasty and abrasive music? Has this changed?

Millard: A little bit in the sense that you don’t want to do the same thing too often. We’re very concerned with being regarded as one of those bands that can be around for a long time, and being known for one thing and one thing only is never very good for that. We love a challenge so there was something nice in trying to prove that we were a band that could be more than just abrasive. There’s elements in the new record that are still quite s similar to the first album but I think there’s a lot more ambition to the song writing on the second album.

Are the lyrics available?

Millard: They’re in the artwork this time. I think we’re a bit more sure of ourselves in terms of what we’re singing about this time. It’s not embarrassing having every one know what you’re singing about - it’s quite nice in a way.

What did you get up to last time in Seattle that you might do again?

Millard: There was a vegetarian restaurant that we went to. Last time we had a day off we went to see the baseball. Doing something like that makes you feel like you’re somewhere special. We’ve got a couple of instores lined up, too. We’re playing Easy Street Records.

What side of your family do your dark looks come from?

My dad’s side I think. That’s an unusual question. The lads sort of slightly take the piss out of us because they think I look a bit Mexican or something. We’ve got this lad for the minute doing merch with us, he’s Peruvian, and people say me and him look like brothers.

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