Hiya Dan! I’ve had the grand pleasure of hearing both of your band’s albums, the 2008 debut You Have No Idea What You’re Getting Yourself Into and 2011’s Don’t Say We Didn’t Warn You, and you definitely redefine and realign what is labeled ‘electronic rock’ these days! Your latest album is extremely aurally varied compared to your debut. What instruments and/or sound samples and/or styles did you incorporate on your new album?
I think both albums are pretty varied, the first one had straight-out-80’s synth-pop mixed in with purely electro dance music. The second album definitely dipped toes into multiple genres, maybe too many! I think the whole album has a kind of analog vibe, there are a lot of analog synths on there. We also used acoustic guitars for the first time too!
It seems that most bands want to avoid the sophomore slump and diversify sonically. Did you purposefully try to venture down previously untried paths, or did the change or growth come naturally, after all your touring and live tweaking of your sound?
I think we just didn’t want to do a full-on electro album, at the time we thought electro would fade away and to some extent it has (in the dance music scene), with the advent of dubstep. We’re a band that’s never just listened to one genre of music, so I guess that shows in the music we put on our albums.
Speaking of touring, you’re on the road for a massive amount of time each year. How do you stay sane with that kind of transient schedule? If you had the pop out the door right now to go on tour, what are the necessities you’d be packing?
Well our schedule hasn’t been so hectic on this album. We’ve toured it a lot and been to many countries, but this time we’ve had little gaps in between to make it easier on all of us. James has a little girl so it’s good for him to go back and see her. Touring essentials for me are, ear plugs, sunglasses, iPhone, baby wipes, and codeine.
I can’t even list all the music festivals you’ve played, or we’d have a book on our hands, LOL, but I was wondering which festival(s) stand out in your memory and why?
Coachella 2008 was pretty nuts. We kept bumping into film stars, which was pretty cool. We also met David Hasselhoff (I think this was before he started doing talent shows on TV). We got a photo and spent the day thinking it was crazy that we met Knight Rider.
I read that you played shows in China. What was the experience like? Maybe I should posit it this way: What countries or regions have you not played?
China was amazing, we got to play 2 festivals and club show. The club show got shut down by the police for being too noisy and rowdy, which was pretty funny, but we got to play on a panda reserve in Chengdu, which was insane. We got to meet the pandas the next day.
We’ve never played Africa or South America, but there are some plans in the works.
What kind of synth equipment do you use? Does your live set-up change depending on the show?
It can be really expensive bringing synths along on tour. They’re so expensive and fragile and the analog ones always go out of tune so they can be a nightmare!! Also, it can get quite messy on stage with us. So we decided to sample the synths and run them via midi controller keyboards. If they get smashed up we can replace them without breaking the bank. We normally stick to the same live set-up.
Right now you’re a 5-member band, with two relative newbies recruited in 2009. Is it all solid for how you’re getting along? You spend so much time traveling and in close proximity that I would think you’d get on each other’s nerves after a while.
At the moment we are doing gigs normally just at weekends, so each weekend we’ll go away to a random city in the world and then fly home the next day, so that’s pretty cool. It can be hectic if you’re stuck on a tour bus for 3 or 4 weeks at a time. We’ve done that and things can get a little crazy, but nothing a week’s holiday won’t fix.
Speaking of newbies, I have to ask you about Matty who was the bassist in Fields. I was over the moon about Fields and was sorely disappointed when no new material came forth from the band after the 7 From the Village EP and debut album Everything Last Winter. What happened to the band? Was it internal strife or creative challenges – and is the band really no more?
Well, he told me the other day that they were thinking of doing a reunion gig and releasing a second album that’s already been recorded. It’s probably best to speak to the singer Nick though!
I’ve heard that you’re possibly at work on a limited edition album that will be a collection of live tracks. Any update on that and where you’re pulling the tracks from? Is that why would were in the studio sometime in August?
We started putting some bits and bobs together, but we took some time off because James had to spend time with his family for a bit because of a few emergencies, but hopefully we will be back on track for releasing it early this year with some new stuff too.
Oh, and what’s this about designing an exclusive Does It Offend You, Yeah? sneaker? How did that come about and when will it be offered to the public?
Macbeth shoes just asked us out of the blue. DEVO have made some too and we’re big fans of theirs! The design is inspired from when I cut my head open on stage once and got blood all over my shoes, which I left on there as a “reminder” to stop being stupid.
You’re very much connected to your fans online (well, and in person too). Is it too much of a time-eater to be online and communicating with your fans or has it been a rewarding experience? Don’t you get inundated with emails and Facebook questions/replies?
We don’t get inundated, but we try and answer emails if people write a nice one to us through our band’s email address. Facebook can be a bit of a nightmare as you can easily start arguments by posting random stuff. We haven’t really got into Twitter though, maybe if we used our individual accounts instead of a band one we would feel more inclined to write stuff.
Going back to your two albums, what was the reason for the label change from one to the other? The debut was on Almost Gold and your new one is on Cooking Vinyl.
Almost Gold just didn’t get what we wanted to do on the second album and wanted it to be pretty much straight pop, so we parted ways. They were good guys but I think being a major label (designed to look like an indie) made them more inclined to see the dollars more than the music.
Not only are you putting out records and touring your backsides off, some band members also remix other artist’s songs and DJ at clubs and festivals. Do you partake in these festivities or is it just James and Rob who are into this?
I’ve worked on a couple with James, I think a Muse one and a Bloc Party one, but Rob likes to do them the most, I think.
What bands are you following at the moment?
I’ve mainly been listening to older stuff like Talking Heads! I’ve not been actively looking for new stuff recently…
This is kind random, but I actually found out about your band because a few years ago I was watching TV and Daniel Radcliff was being interviewed and he mentioned being a fan of yours. I don’t know if this was a big deal, but do you know if his endorsement helped out or hindered your band in the early stages? The funny thing is, at least from my viewpoint, I didn’t look into your band asap because I’m not that keen on the whole Harry Potter universe…LOL
I only found out about that a few months ago, he described us as sounding like robots having sex. I think he was probably right! If I ever saw him at a gig I think it would be pretty funny, I’ve only ever seen him in the first movie and the episode of Extras that he did with Ricky Gervais, which was pretty funny.