U.K.'s Hot Chip would like to defy definition, for now

by Cary Darling

McClatchy Newspapers (MCT)

25 September 2008


The British quintet Hot Chip has been at the forefront of what’s been lauded as an electro music revival on the far side of the Atlantic. In fact, the U.K. press has said that Hot Chip flies the banner for the “new rave” movement, a label that has been applied to such other bands as the Klaxons and Brazil’s Cansei de Ser Sexy (CSS).

But Hot Chip’s sublime blend of infectious lo-fi pop, bangin’ New Order-ish beats and dreamy electronics is far more nuanced and playful than the stereotype of rave music in the U.S. Formed in London, the group - featuring Alexis Taylor, Joe Goddard, Owen Clarke, Al Doyle and Felix Martin - released its first EP, “Mexico,” in 2000. With its first full-length, “Coming On Strong” in 2005, the group began to get noticed in the States.

The band’s reputation has built over the course of the last two albums, “The Warning” (2006), and this year’s “Made in the Dark,” by far Hot Chip’s strongest release to date. We caught up with Doyle recently by phone from a rehearsal studio in London.

Q. Each of your albums has gotten more aggressive. Has that been intentional on your part?

A. There’s definitely some aggressive songs on the new album. But there are also very quiet songs. We’ve gotten louder and quieter at the same time. The live show will certainly now be quite rock ‘n’ roll. We just had our first rehearsal with a live drummer and that immediately changes the feel of the music. It sounds more, dare I say, classic rock.

Q. Is there a danger that you’ll become less unique?

A. There is a danger, but we overestimate the danger that this is going to sound too poppy. Everyone thinks we’re a really strange band ... It still will be quite strange music. There’s no danger of our music being on the national radio playlist.

Q. I understand you don’t like the term “new rave” at all.

A. We feel the same way about anything the press says. We happen to work in a medium with music journalists, and it’s the only form of journalism where you don’t have to check your sources; it’s an opinion-based form of journalism. So it’s not something we think about too much. There are other bands we have an affinity with, like LCD Soundsystem ... but I wouldn’t say our music sounds like LCD. ... There are genuine musical movements, but they happen so rarely, it’s almost meaningless to talk about it. It would be like people living in the Renaissance saying, ‘Hey, we’re living in the Renaissance.’ A few hundred years later, you see it.

Q. So what are you listening to these days?

A. The new David Byrne and Brian Eno (“Everything That Happens Will Happen Today”). But when we’re off tour, and not deejaying, I like to listen to nothing at all - or have the radio on. We’re blessed with the BBC and Radio 4, talk, news, current affairs, those soothing British voices.

Topics: hot chip
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