How Do You Do: Hot Chip

"There’s a lot of mutual respect..."

Last year, Clash spoke to the ever-so-chatty Joe Goddard about his seemingly impossible juggling act between various commitments. Then, his hectic schedule was largely focused on the promotion of new solo EP ‘Gabriel’, which proved an essential dancefloor moment and even went on to achieve the number one spot in the South African charts.

Now, after more or less fifteen years in the business and the release of Hot Chip album number four ‘In Our Heads’, we thought it only apt to have another catch-up with one of the industry’s busiest music-making masterminds…

How’s the European tour going?
Well we’ve been doing a lot of festivals at weekends. We’ve done Pitchfork and a big opening show at Prospect Park in Brooklyn, and they both went really well. Pukkelpop’s coming up next weekend which should be good. Then we’ve got Clapham Moore, Bestival, and The Hollywood Bowl in L.A. before starting our UK tour in October. We’re touring all year basically.

Does it ever get boring?
There are definitely a lot of boring times, like, when you’re just hanging around in hotel lobbies, airports and backstage at festivals, but those boring moments are far-outweighed by the pleasure of playing the actual shows.

You headlined Lovebox, your first major festival as headliners, recently. How did that go?
Yeah Lovebox was the first real big one we’ve done on UK soil. It was really exciting for us and we think it went well. It hasn’t exactly been a meteoric rise to headlining major events like Lovebox, more like a tortoise-and-hare approach.

How many years has it been now?
Well if we go all the way back to when me and Alexis started making music under the name Hot Chip, that was something like 1996. I mean, back then we were just playing gigs at our school and in local pubs or wherever really. It was all about moving towards our first recording and discovering our sound.

Well after fifteen years of performing would you say that the band are beyond getting nervous before a big-stage performance?
Well I have moments sometimes, like, when we haven’t been playing shows for a while and we start touring again, or if we’re doing something that we’ve never done before, like headlining, then yeah, I suppose nerves do creep in, but generally we feel very confident together because we’re so well-rehearsed. And the more we play, the more confident we become, and we’ve played a lot now so it doesn’t happen often.

And you plan to tour the UK with Disclosure and Django Django. Are you looking forward to hitting the road with them?
Yeah, definitely. We saw Django Django play earlier in the year and it was a great show and they’re friends of ours so we’re looking forward to playing with them, absolutely.

Would you say there were any stark similarities between Django Django and possibly an earlier, younger Hot Chip?
Well they’re kind of in the same ball park because they’re mostly about electronic pop music and doing it all live on stage. I think they have a really unique sound that’s tough to describe really. When I watched them for the first time I felt like they were a little bit like The Beatles, in terms of their song-writing. Hot Chip is a lot more about disco rhythms and stuff, and perhaps their style is a bit more soulful, but generally there’re a lot of similarities.

And you worked with Jessie Ware on the Bacardi Beginnings project. How did that go?
It was great. She was really nice and down-to-earth and fun to work with. We’ve recently just finished a remix of her next single, and I’m really happy with it. I can’t wait for people to hear it. But yeah, overall the process was lovely and really enjoyable.

Was the production of ‘In Our Heads’ a natural step for the band or was there a clear consciousness of not wanting to produce work similar to previous albums?
Well sometimes I think that we need to make a completely different record that doesn’t focus on dance music or one that uses completely different instruments. There is a desire to do that, but there’s also an everlasting desire to improve upon what we’ve already done. I still love house music and disco, and obviously that comes through quite strongly on our albums, but as song-writers we’re always looking to improve and explore new places. Maybe next time we’ll make a more definite split and do something different but you never know how ideas develop and come to life.

Hot Chip – How Do You Do

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You’ve enjoyed further success as one half of The 2 Bears and Alexis Taylor also has his thing going with ‘About Group’. Do you feel that now with the introduction of such side-projects, the band’s progress or togetherness has been stymied in any way?
Well, there are other members of the band who’ve got other things going as well. Felix and Al have got New Build and they released their first album earlier this year, and Alexis has done really well with About Group – they’ve got their third album coming out soon. And these things, although they have an effect on the band, I genuinely think that they’re good for us. I mean, for obvious reasons really, if all of our energy and frustrations were poured purely into Hot Chip then it would inevitably lead to fall-outs and disagreements. I think with the added aspect of side-projects it’s easier to satisfy our personal tastes and explore other outlets and ideas. And coming back together to do Hot Chip after a break always feels great, and it keeps fresh that way. So it’s a very healthy balance for us.

Despite that, are there ever any arguments?
Yeah we do argue from time to time. We’ve never had anyone throwing plates at each other or anything like that. Maybe a couple of punches have been thrown in very drunken moments but generally it’s just the normal stuff that doesn’t really have a huge impact on the band. There’re always decisions to be made and someone’s bound to feel differently about something but there’s never been a major bust-up and I doubt there ever will be to be honest. We get on, and we don’t tour continuously to the point where we hate each other. There’s a lot of mutual respect in the band.

With age comes responsibilty, and in your case, that’s having a family. You’ve got two children now, and Alexis has a daughter. How difficult is it to juggle between the band and your private life?
It’s tough you know, just the obvious things really. Leaving to go on tour and then being away during the first stages of your children’s lives and missing things. And of course it doesn’t make things easier for my wife as she has to deal with a lot of pressure and hard work looking after them. But I guess raising a child in every situation is difficult really, like, some Dads work early mornings to late evenings and get home after their kids have gone to bed, so things are never perfect. At the moment most of my time spent away from my kids is when I’m at festivals at the weekends so I get to see them a lot during the week. So it’s tough but it’s kind of working out nicely for us.

And you recorded the music for the table tennis at the Olympics. How did that come about?
Yeah that was fun. Our manager also manages The Chemical Brothers and they were asked to write some music for the velodrome. At that point we were asked if we could help out, and I suggested that we did something for table tennis because I really like playing it and they said yes. It was basically music to be played in the auditorium as people were coming in. We actually used table tennis sounds because they’re really quite percussive and mixed with a piano melody we made up it sounded great. As a reward we got to go and see the women’s final which was amazing.

You lucky devils. Just on more question then – the obvious one really – how hot are your chips?
Well, I haven’t made chips for a while. But the last time I cooked some they were really hot when I took them out of the oven, and then they sort of naturally cooled down. McCain make them nice and chunky. They’re the best.

Words by Josh Taylor

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Hot Chip’s new single ‘How Do You Do’ is set to be released on September 10th.

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