Kadhim: The new album sounds less brash than your previous records, it’s a little more laid back.
Al Doyle: It’s been a little strange hearing the responses that we’ve been getting to the album. The very first interview that we did was with Pitchfork and they kept saying how low-key the album is which confused us a little.
K: That wasn’t what you guys were aiming for I guess.
Al: We’re all about making music that people can dance to but we’ve always had a different idea about what constitutes a groove. I don’t think we’ve ever been brash but it’s a good word because what some people call electro these days is just brash noise, a sort of repetive annoying noise, there’s no other way to describe it. But that’s not the kind of music that we’ve ever wanted to make.
K: You seemed to have dropped the heavier guitar elements that you had in “Made in the Dark”. Was there a specific reason for that?
Al: We were experimenting with that during recording and the rehearsals we’re doing now but it didn’t fit, we felt like we didn’t really need it.
K: The album feels a lot less silly than some of the stuff you’ve released before, it sounds like the band’s a lot more comfortable with themselves.
Al: It’s true, we don’t have any tracks like “Shake a fist” from the previous album. I think it’s a synthesis of what’s come before. There are some songs, well actually the two that have been released so far, One Life Stand and Take It In, that you might call archetypal Hot Chip songs. Ultimately you’ve got the pop song structure, verse, bridge, chorus but we’ve tried as usual to inject some strangeness to make it more interesting. I don’t think we’ve changed our formula too much but our execution has definitely improved.
K: The whole thing feels more like a complete record as well.
Al: Our previous albums I think worked well as collections of songs but a lot of the feedback that we got was that people were confused as to why we moved around so much stylistically. I don’t think that many artists would take that on board but we challenged ourselves to create something more cohesive.
K: The songs on this album sound like they come from a deeper place emotionally, I’m really enjoying “Brothers” but compared with say “Wrestler”, there’s something different going on.
Al: [laughs] I think Wrestler is probably the most specific song that we’ve ever written but I’m glad that you like “Brothers” because it would probably be a pastiche of a love song if there wasn’t genuine emotion behind it.
K: Keeping on that idea, where does the impulse to juxtaposition upbeat melodies with more melancholy lyrics come from? For example, the Wiley cover that you did made “Wearing My Rolex” sound heartfelt.
Al: We ended up making it sound like he’s upset about losing his rolex [laughs]. But more seriously, it’s a tradition in a lot of genres. You look back to Motown and Gospel music from the South and move through Chicago and Detroit and the house music coming out from there; the same feeling is there. The music can be upbeat, and even the lyrics can be uplifting but it retains a depressing quality. It’s not a magic trick but the interplay definitely creates something interesting for the listener which is why we like to do it and which is why it’s quite common throughout a lot of genres. It gives the listener something deeper to come back to, instead of the kind of songs you get from the Sugababes.
K: There’s one song specifically from the album that I wanted to talk about. I was a bit surprised when I listened to “I Feel Better” because it sounds like the kind of music that you hear on the RnB club scene.
Al: We deliberately wanted to make that kind of song, we thought it would be funny to jump on the auto-tune bandwagon but waaayyyy late. But the lyrics for most of the song are quite dark which I think contrasts well with the type of song it is, but when we got to the chorus we thought we’d go all out and use the most clichéd dance lyrics we could imagine. I guess it’s just another play with the idea of contrast, between verse and chorus, major and minor chords in that song.
K: You’re touring with The xx in the U.S. for a short while this March, are you a fan of theirs?
Al: Well I don’t know their music very well, I don’t have their album but I’ve been listening to some of their songs quite a bit recently and I really enjoy it. We wanted to put together a really exciting bill and they’re getting quite big in the U.S. so it’s worked out quite well.
K: In your wildest dreams, who would you want to tour with? And you can’t choose LCD Soundsystem.
Al: I guess you’ve got to think about who would be most fun to tour with so you’ve got to go way back for that, maybe the Happy Mondays? It was quite cool a few years back because Neil Young was playing the same festivals in Australia that we were which was kind of like touring with him. It was nice seeing Neil Young every day.
K: Everyone at the moment is giving their recommendations for artists to look out for in 2010, have you got any?
Al: There’s this artist that Felix and I are producing called “Planning to Rock”. The girl’s name is Janine Rostron and she’s done some work with The Knife as well. We always mention as well, Grovesnor. The guy’s name is Rob Smoughton, he’s actually drumming for us on our upcoming tour. Their both pretty great, check them out.
K: Do you ever find that it’s difficult to juggle your commitments to Hot Chip and LCD Soundsystem?
Al: I do actually, I’m having to miss out on the tour this year. I’m doing some rehearsals with them so I might be able to join them later on in the year but it hasn’t been decided yet so it’s a bit shit.