Hot Chip: New Year’s Stars
Hot Chip have a busy New Year’s period ahead of them. After an absence of over two years, they’re headed back our way with dates at Field Day, Summafieldayze and Falls Festival as well as a couple of inthemix presented sideshows. Needless to say, it’s a welcome return – as well as leaving a very good impression on Australian audiences on their last visit, the boys have a killer new album under their belt. So with in Our Heads ready to show off for the first time, inthemix caught up with the group’s Owen Clarke.
You’ll be over here primarily for Falls, which is a bit of a New Year’s Eve tradition over here for many people. In light of this, I’d like to ask, ‘cause I’m sure you’ve must have some pretty interesting stories to share – what was the most memorable NYE you’ve had?
The millennium one. An ex-girlfriend of Alexis’ house in south-east London, and from there we were in a block of flats that were quite high up, and we were able to watch the millennium fireworks going off in Greenwich – but they were so far away you couldn’t hear them. I like being able to watch fireworks without being able to hear them, there’s something quite creepy and mystical about it. So there was that. That’s mine! No music. Interesting.
Ha! Yeah, I think that New Year’s Eve would have been pretty hard to beat for most people. Moving on, I wanted to chat a bit about this year’s release from you guys, In Our Heads – which I’ve read was recorded very quickly for you guys. Do you feel that this has resulted in a more honest, unfiltered record?
I don’t know about unfiltered, or honest – more unfettered, I think. We wrote a lot of the songs in a few days, then another day to mix and finish them off, and then we’d leave them alone for a while and maybe come back to them. We recorded about twelve, maybe fourteen songs, in just under a month. We didn’t do it all in one go – we did it in a number of bursts over a period of maybe four months, which I think made it quite fresh and… Well, not light. But we’d, like – when we were there we’d work on it and leave it, and we’d come back to it, and it wasn’t we were slogging away getting buried in songs, worrying about it. Everything was very much like, this is the song, this is how it goes, it’s sounding good – okay, next one! So that kind of gave it a brevity and I think it became a lot easier for us. It liberated us.
I found it really interesting that the record is named In Our Heads – for me, it was this really pleasant reminder of how life throws all this awful shit at us but the human spirit can endure almost anything and come out on top. Do you guys consider yourselves fundamentally positive people?
Well, we’re Londoners! There’s a lot of questioning and cynicism in everything for us. But then also we’re very happy, and enjoying the music and touring, and everything. Generally, when we come to an album, we go about things in a similar way, and have similar inspirations and themes, they might become more dance-y or more looking back at say, other American artists and themes or whatever. Each album is a reflection of what’s going on in our heads at any point, and that’s where this record is really coming from. One of the songs near the end of the record mentions the line about in our heads, and when we were going through the tracks it seemed like a lot of them had to do with ideas about perception and reflection – quite heavy things, but also quite heartfelt, and it felt a very natural title for the record.
Is there a struggle, in terms of walking the line between making a record that’s really fresh and original and incorporates a wide variety of influences, and making something that sounds cohesive? Was that something you were conscious of while writing it?
There are lots and lots of influences within Hot Chip, but then I also think they probably get lost, and we don’t consciously repeat them on board, although they may come in at the beginning. I know that quite a lot of things on this record were inspired in part by Chic and Nile Rodgers and stuff, and that’s what we were thinking about in terms of production, and also house things. But it doesn’t sound like a Chic record, it sounds like a house record, it sounds like a combination of many things. Everything gets mixed up, in a positive way – and people talk about a Hot Chip sound, and I think we’ve accidentally found that. I think the only time we’re conscious of those influences if we’re headed towards them too much.