Hot Chip: interview

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Hot Chip will curate the first in a series of Time Out-sponsored ‘hidden’ gigs in aid of Crisis on Tuesday May 5 (see Clubbing listings for details). Guitarist Al Doyle explains why he’s involved with the national charity for homeless single people

  • Hot Chip hooked up with the Crisis ‘hidden’ gigs when guitarist Al Doyle started talking to a friend who works there
    ‘The Crisis centre is close to where I live in east London, so I went in to talk to staff members and started thinking about what we might be able to do with Hot Chip to help.’

    Unlike the oft-exploited phrases ‘secret gig’, ‘mystery headliner’ and ‘very, very special guest’, the word ‘hidden’ here has real significance

    ‘A lot of homelessness is hidden. It isn’t just about living on the streets – that old-fashioned idea of the down-and-out sleeping on a park bench and begging. There are also an awful lot of people who aren’t so visible who are suffering from a lack of reliable accommodation. Living where I do, around Brick Lane, there are a lot of problems with immigrant workers living in very cramped conditions. I think maybe people aren’t so aware of that.’

    Precariousness is also part of the concept

    ‘The idea is to give people a very, very vague taste of what it might be like for homeless people to experience insecurity about where they’re going to spend the night. In London there’s a network of shelters and hostels across the city, and the various agencies will tell homeless people where there are spaces free on various nights. Then they may have to start trekking. With these gigs, you buy your ticket but you don’t find out where the gig’s taking place till you get a text 24 hours before.’

    Homelessness really could happen to you

    ‘That’s the biggest misconception, definitely. Quite often it starts with a small misfortune, which leads to drug or alcohol addiction, and then job loss. Things like that have happened in my family. I’ve had relatives almost losing houses because of stupid things to do with banks.’

    But if it does, take comfort in the fact that you could find yourself participating in a white-soul, electro-pop-rock opera

    ‘When I said I’d help out at the Crisis centre, I thought I was just going to be doing one of the normal workshops. But when they found out I was coming, they decided to do a recreation of our “Over and Over” video. They created this massive set, painted a London skyline, got a little disco ball… It was quite surprising – and humbling. They were even thinking of wearing the green catsuits, and there were 16 year olds, a woman in her mid-sixties… The person dancing was a very charismatic guy called Donald who used to be a professional choreographer and ended up being street homeless. The whole thing was totally surreal, and great fun. But hopefully we’re a while down the line from a Ben Elton rock-opera phase.’ Click here to watch the video.

    Hot Chip won’t be playing live…

    ‘Before we finished touring after Big Day Out in January, we hadn’t been home for more than two weeks for a whole year. So we decided to take it easy. Also, Alexis [Taylor], our singer, is having a baby, and we wanted to give him space for that. So we DJ at weekends and spend our days in the studio making the new album, like a proper job. Felix [Martin] and I are also doing a soundtrack for a film that is kind of a funny documentary about the Holocaust. It’s a hard one to pitch.’

    … but they will be treating you to a sneak preview of their fourth record

    ‘We’ll play a few demos from the new album. It’s gonna be quite a big, upfront pop album, I have to say. Short and punchy, big riffs, big choruses. We just thought we’d really go for it, make a more concise and cohesive record than some of them have been. We’ll also be playing a mixture of all our musical tastes – some disco, some techno, some classic pop – and we have Man Like Me doing an extremely polished live set. I would say it’s unlikely that anyone will play “Streets of London”.’
    Hot Chip curate the first in the series of Crisis Hidden Gigs on Tuesday May 5

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