Zu „Flutes“ schwingen bereits seit Monaten die Hipster ihre Hüften auf den Tanzflächen, jüngst eroberte die erste Single-Auskopplung „Night And Day“ die Campuscharts: Hot Chip sind mit ihrem fünften Studioalbum zurück.
Die Einzigartigkeit, mit der die Londoner Independent- und EDM-Elemente zu multifunktionaler Popmusik kombinieren, überzeugt seit inzwischen mehr als zehn Jahren immer wieder Kritiker und Publikum. In einem Kölner Café sprachen Sänger Joe Goddard und Multiinstrumentalist Al Doyle mit uns über den Druck, selbst gesetzten Maßstäben gerecht zu werden, den Zerfall des Major Labels EMI und die Diskrepanz zwischen Wohlstand und Kreativität.
You’ve been in the business for more than a decade. Enough time to make up your mind about what the point of making pop music is at all?
Joe Goddard: We’re not ideally suited to pop music. It’d be better if we were just back room moguls that send out an attractive young band to do the work…
Al Doyle: …Yeah, to be on stage and to be the face of the movement and then we could stay at home and just pull the strings.
So you don’t like making pop music and being on stage!
Al Doyle: Of course we do. We do like being in front of people and playing, especially live music. It’s a real thrill. It’s very nice to make something that people enjoy watching and listening to and dancing to. So we’re in the business of making people happy, which I think is a pretty good business to be in.
Joe Goddard: Yeah, it’s good to spread positivity.
Al Doyle: Like a positive priest!
But not all of the people being in that business have a reason to be happy themselves. How have you experienced the changes in the music industry since 2000?
Joe Goddard: There are obvious pressures on people making music right now. If we’d had been making music 25 years ago, we would probably be significantly more wealthy than we are.
Al Doyle: But maybe we would be making less interesting music as a consequence of that. It’s very strange to think: If there’s more money in the business, then sometimes people can have the opportunity to do some more interesting things in the studio – like hire a 50-piece orchestra. But then again the sort of freedom that comes with that amount of money rolling around in the late 70s, 80s and early 90s to a certain extent meant that people sometimes had these gigantic follies of albums that were just done under this atmosphere of indulgence and excess. That isn’t necessarily the greatest thing for creativity.
So where are you at?
Al Doyle: We’re hopefully somewhere in the middle of that. We’re a band that has a lot of interest in more underground and experimental music, but we’re in a position because of having some sort of vaguely successful career that we have that kind of money to use a nice studio and hire a good musician to play a drum part. We’re not interested in doing anything that isn’t the most difficult thing, that isn’t the best thing that we could possibly do.
You transferred from EMI (major) to Domino Records (indie) for your current release. Usually it happens the other way around, but EMI doesn’t even exist anymore now. Does it come with restrictions? How do you deal with that change?
Joe Goddard: It hasn’t been some kind of upheaval relief for us. Starting to work on the new album with Domino has been a bit more fun just because…
Al Doyle: …they’re funny guys?
Joe Goddard: Yeah, we’ve known the people at Domino for a long time and have been quite friendly with them. It’s been quite comfortable. Towards the end of our relationship with EMI – because EMI had gotten under a lot of financial pressure – for some people working there it became quite difficult, because they were not sure if they would still have a job in less than six months. I think it was difficult for them to focus on promoting the records.
Al Doyle: We were very sorry for a lot of people – not just at that label, but a lot of other major labels. There is an idea in the indie music community that everybody that works at a major label is a talentless hack just getting the money from the label. A lot of people are very good at their jobs there.
So you still believe in the idea of music labels? You probably just could have self released your new album. Doesn’t it seem like everything is possible without music labels nowadays?
Joe Goddard: You get people that have these incredible successes without a label occasionally. The internet makes certain things easier, but it’s also an enormous place full of people demanding your attention. It’s almost more essential than ever to have people on your side that try to help you get your music heard by people.
Probably it’s easier to get attention if your band has some famous members, such as The 2 Bears, New Build… It’s hard to even recall all the side and solo projects you’re doing. Do you feel like Hot Chip is unfulfilling?
Joe Goddard: I don’t think that Hot Chip is not satisfying. The thing is just that Hot Chip is one group of five people. It’s also nice to sometimes make music with other people outside of that. However much you try to let the band’s new music be as creative as it wants to be and be as different as it might be, certain kinds of pressures are placed on a band as it gets more established. People expect and want certain things from you. So I think doing other projects allows you a little bit more freedom. So I think that was a nice thing for everyone to do, to go away and to do other stuff and then it’s equally nice to come back and do Hot Chip again.
Al Doyle: Like taking a holiday that makes you appreciate your own city.
So it seems like there is a lot of pressure that you have to deal with as Hot Chip.
Joe Goddard: There is an audience around the world that likes us doing this kind of mix of dance music. It would be a little bit difficult for the next record to be just kind of a cappella for the whole album or just bongos.
Al Doyle: It would have been more difficult if we’d had a recent album that for some reason hadn’t done very well. If we’d tried to go down a different track. If it had been poorly received. But we’ve been very lucky. All of the albums have had some songs on them that were quite well received critically. With this record, the only pressure was to live up to the standards that had been set with the previous albums.
The new album does have a lot of those R’n’B influences Hot Chip is known for. Why do you stick to this style?
Joe Goddard: The good American R’n’B is just genius music, really amazing producers working in that field. We all like that stuff. If we’d had a little party with our iPod you’d hear Destiny’s Child or R. Kelly.
How do you feel about the idea that electronic music cannot convey emotions as well as music played by acoustic instruments, on which your touch decides about the dynamics of the sound?
Al Doyle: I was watching an old clip recently of this American Ted Nugent, sort of an old rock’n’roll, republican voting American guy.
People used to see electronic instruments as a threat, ‚It’s gonna take away the guitar player’s job‘. You can get emotion out of the way you put something together. It doesn’t necessarily have something to do with having a direct connection, because you’re actually hitting the thing with your hand. Surely that argument was lost about 20 years ago. What about The Human League and Kraftwerk? The thing that I can’t even bear to sit through is like one young white guy with an acoustic guitar like pouring his soul out. It just turns me off so much. That’s music for people that hate music.
In Our Heads erscheint am 08.06.2012 auf Domino Records.