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Hot Chip

Hot Chip talk festival boozing and clubbing as a grown-up

Ahead of their appearance at Lovebox festival this summer, the synth pop troupe explain that you can still write banging tunes when you're a parent

By Jonny Ensall

It's raining as I approach the door to Joe Goddard’s studio, near Old Street. The man himself opens the door and ushers me downstairs to the band’s cosy, synth-packed lair, complete with funky orange walls and Prince albums in frames. It’s where the band begin work on their wobbly-disco bangers – the kind of sunshine songs that warm up even an overcast metropolis like this. This summer sees the group hit the main stage at Lovebox, but until then we can enjoy their sixth album, ‘Why Make Sense?’ – a compelling mix of Stevie Wonder-esque boogie, uplifting nods to house and rave, and off-kilter disco rhythms. It’s an album to dance to, though vocalist Alexis Taylor admits that his party lifestyle has shifted somewhat.

What did you get up to this weekend?
Alexis Taylor: ‘I was at a children’s party. They put silver foil over all of the windows and had disco lights, so you really felt like you were in club, but with five and six-year-olds running around and dancing to Katy Perry songs. Then an evening meal in a Wetherspoon’s.’

Sounds perfect. Are you still going clubbing with the grown-ups?
Joe Goddard: ‘I’m trying to live a bit more healthily than I did a few years ago. But I still appreciate those moments when you hear good music in a club and it makes you feel glad to be alive.’

Was recording this album good fun, or did it feel like going back to the office?
JG: ‘I’m not going to lie and say every moment of modern record production is a hoot. Someone always brings up the same idea: Hey, we could go to Compass Point Studios in the Bahamas! And then we end up in Kilburn for a month. That’s why we decided to go to a residential studio near Banbury.’
AT: ‘It wasn’t quite the Happy Mondays in Jamaica.’

It produced some bangers, though. Is it true that Joe’s dad critiques your big tunes?
JG: ‘He will tell me if he thinks we ought to write another banger. He sometimes gives us critiques after gigs as well. At the last one his weed vapouriser had broken down, so after the gig he was really annoyed – I think that clouded his judgement.’

There are some downbeat moments, too. Like Alexis’s lyrics on ‘Need You Now’, which seem to reference the treatment of hostages…
AT: ‘The words were just about accepting the painful truth of what humanity’s capable of, in terms of acts of terrorism. And the loneliness of an individual who’s about to be beheaded. It’s about that really. I don’t have some grand solution. I was just feeling a bit miserable about the world.’

Most modern pop isn’t so topical. In fact, songs like ‘Blurred Lines’ and ‘Uptown Funk’ are borrowing heavily from the past…
JG: ‘Modern music is about recontextualising things from the past. The essence is to take bits from old tracks in clever ways. That’s the great and joyous thing about bands. Orange Juice were trying to sound like Chic, but the way that they got it wrong was so great.’

Hot Chip always pack a stylish punch. What are your tips for coming correct at a festival?
Owen Clarke: ‘Write off being stylish below the waist. That stuff is getting destroyed. Look to our feathered friends for inspiration. Does it make you look like a king? Wear it.’
Finally – how many cans of tepid lager is the ideal number for the perfect festival buzz?
OC: ‘Follow the rule of three. No beer until you pitch the tent. If the tent is up, you have a beer to celebrate. Then take a “stroller” can with you on your perambulation into festidom. After that you should have the “sit down” can. You probably need it.’


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