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New Young Pony Club: Horsing around this summer

What’s the sudden fascination with ice cream? Bands and artists have, seemingly out of nowhere, started to idolise and characterise this innocent childhood delight in their music. Muscles made sure it was going to save the day, and the Soft Tigers gave their own personal account of Mr Whippy – everyone’s favourite ice cream man. But the first to pay their respects to the frozen summer treat were London’s New Young Pony Club. “I can give you what you want. I can make your heart beat short. I can make you ice cream, we could be a sweet team, melting in your vice dreams, sport.” This smut encrusted piece of porn-disco announced their arrival to the world, and along with Klaxons and CSS, had indie rockers wondering what they were doing wrong. Not much, bar the fact that people like music you can dance to, and as much as you try to, bouncing around to Arctic Monkeys with a member of the opposite sex just doesn’t feel quite the same.

So, at the end of a hectic 18 months of touring, NYPC’s production guru Andy Spence is at home taking it easy, watching the rain come down outside his window. The man has – with help from front-woman Tahita “Tai” Bulmer – transformed ‘the Ponies’ into a worldwide fluoro tidal wave, leading the nu-wave knights into battle against the forces of boringness. Their debut LP Fantastic Playroom was released in July of this year, and was lauded by fans and critics alike. Bulmer and Spence are supported by keyboardist Lou Hayder, who incidentally dates Jamie Klaxon (I wonder if they’ll wear fluoro to their wedding?), bassist Igor Drolk and drummer Sarah Jones. Speaking to Spence in some very rare off time – which has him feeling refreshed and upbeat after a meteoric couple of years – ITM learns how the band feel having scored a Mercury Music Prize nomination.

So Andy, what is New Young Pony Club up to at the moment?

We are just coming off loads of touring and festivals and a US tour, just taking it easy really. We’re heading to Moscow next week and then Germany and down to Australia after that. It’s going to be a bit extreme in terms of weather in the next month or so, as it will be minus ten when we are in Russia.

You are signed to hip Aussie indie flagship label Modular, and being English it seems strange to be signed to a label that has pretty much been exclusively Australian before that, how did that come about?

Well a couple of things came together but I’m not exactly sure how. I know that Cut Copy were big fans of ours and they were talking to the label a lot and then there were guys at the label that found our first 7” on import. Then Phil, the Modular UK A&R guy, he kind of fell in love with us and came to see us in England. After that was just like; ‘we have to sign these guys’, and it kind of went from there. There has been a lot of love from quite of a lot of people at Modular for a while now, which has been great.

You’re here in early January, playing a lot of festivals. What can Aussie fans who haven’t seen you live expect from NYPC on stage?

It’s great as we do have lots of fans down there and we’re really excited to be playing there again. They’re going to get a great show with all the songs people know and love, and we always put a lot of energy into it. If you read any of the reviews of our shows you’ll see people aren’t disappointed when they come to our shows as we don’t just rehash the album, like [we don’t] just play the songs on the album, we make it into a proper live show.

Have NYPC working on that ambitious sophomore album yet?

To be honest with you we haven’t had a chance to, we just haven’t had time. We’ve just been touring so much but we’re really keen to get back to the studio. We probably will get in there after we get back from Australia. We plan on taking a break after we get back and then we’ll get back to making music after that.

You’ve recently done a remix for Amy Winehouse and her track Tears Dry On Their Own, did you enjoy that and are you doing any more remixing at the moment?

As I do all the production for the group I managed to find the time in the studio, which was nice, and they were really happy with it which was good. I’ve done a couple this year like the Gossip and another one, and I was doing one for a band called Blood Red Shoes who are a young English band who I really like. The song was great but their record company just got bought by someone else so that’s all up in the air a bit. I try not to do too many remixes because you want to keep them special and unique, so we’re only really doing them when we want to and for songs we really like.

Speaking of remixing, internet music blogs are becoming a massive source of music for people seeking out new bands; what are your thoughts on this new phenomenon?

Music blogs I think are great, I mean a lot of people have found us through music blogs, to be honest. To me that’s a good thing, people are finding music in whatever way, it’s a really organic process not some big hype machine. At first I was like ‘shit these guys are just giving away our music’, but being honest I think it’s only music lovers who are checking these things out, and we might not have got to these people otherwise. I also think that the people who are running the blogs are people who are passionate about music themselves; I’ve found music I like from blogs.

Your label-mates Van She and Cut Copy frequently do DJ sets around the country; do NYPC also like to get behind the wheels of steel?

Three of us DJ, actually. We quite enjoy that when we get the chance. Lou our keyboardist is a good DJ, I’ve DJed for years, and Tai has started to DJ since she’s been in the band. She’s seen how much fun we had and said ‘I can do that’ and got all her CDs out. She gets on the decks as well, so it’s king of fun when we do it together. I like doing mixes as well, I like doing radio mixes and we’ve just been asked to do an All Back To Mine compilation which should be great, a lot of fun.

You’ll be in illustrious company for that, with guys like New Order, Pet Shop Boys and Groove Armada having compiled previous editions. What sort of flavour is your’s going to take?

Well we only really just confirmed that, the scope of stuff we could put on is a little scary really because there are so many good things. Although I have a feeling that a lot of the stuff I want I won’t be able to get licensing for, like Talking Heads and Prince, and things like that. Some of the big acts sometimes are really hard to get the rights for, but we’ll see. It is really exciting and we can’t wait to delve into some of the older stuff we love.

Lastly, have you got any funny stories from all the recent touring you’ve done?

There’s hundreds [laughs]. When we were last in Sydney, Lou, who’s usually pretty good and doesn’t drink much and is usually quite controlled, got really drunk onstage at V Festival. [She] stole a golf buggy and crashed it into a tree and ran away. I think she was being egged on by that band The Ghosts [who have recently changed their name to Ghostwood].

Well Andy, Australia is looking forward to have NYPC on our shores once again and I’m sure many people who missed out on your last tour will be jumping fences to get to see you this time. Thanks a lot for speaking to us!

No worries can’t wait to see you for some sunshine and fun.

Don’t miss New Young Pony Club on their summer 2007/2008 Australian tour:

Dec 29 – Falls Festival, Victoria

Jan 1 – Summadayze, Melbourne

Jan 3 – The Forum, Melbourne

Jan 4 – The Enmore, Sydney

Jan 5 – Summafieldayze, Gold Coast

Jan 6 – Summadayze, Perth