Responsible for some of the most interesting pop music to grace the airwaves so far this century, the UK five-piece behind hits like 'Ready for the Floor' and 'Over and Over', not to mention some seriously whacked-out promo videos, Hot Chip return to Rio de Janeiro in March before hitting São Paulo's Lollapalooza festival. Time Out caught up with co-founder Joe Goddard to find out just where the band's heads are at as they tour their latest LP, In Our Heads.
You signed to Domino, the musicians' label of choice, did it feel like you had more control being on an indie label (albeit a huge one) again?
To be honest EMI didn't really try to control the music that we made that much. We would have occasional problems over radio edits or mixes but creatively they left us alone pretty much so there wasn't too much difference between the labels in that regard.
Did the label actively influence the album In Our Heads in any way? It seems like a less introspective and more celebratory Hot Chip record.
I don't think thats to do with the label so much as things to do with our personal lives. There are definitely happy moments on the record but their are other feelings being expressed as well.
There are constants in Hot Chip records now and eight years ago of course, not least Alexis' unmistakable voice, but is the way you make them unrecognisable from Coming on Strong?
The way we make them is different in many ways to Coming on Strong. For that record, basically Alexis would come to my parents' house in Fulham, south west London where I was living and we would put songs together using just a Casio keyboard, one synth and some percussion and use a computer drum-machine, whereas In Our Heads had Alexis and I mostly working from our own houses and sending demos back and forth to each other before finishing the record at a studio in Kilburn with the rest of the band. But I still use the same software that I used for Coming on Strong and we still occasionally use the same instruments so some things remain the same.
Do you look back on having made those albums with a mix of pride and incredulity at the sheer volume of your music is out there in people's collections?
I sometimes feel proud of them and sometimes I wonder whether it would have been better if we had made those records with an outside producer. I'm proud of some songs, and some sounds, I'm proud of some gigs and some collaborations we have worked on.
Talk us through the live show a little bit - what kind of gig is Rio in for, and will it differ being in a smaller, sweaty pit like Circo Voador to the show at Lollapalooza in São Paulo?
It being in a smaller place does affect what we play and to put it very simply we have more time at Circo Voador so we can play more stuff. We play more gentle tracks at our own club shows and the atmosphere definitely feels more intense - I personally prefer the smaller shows I think. But festivals can be fantastic as well if the atmosphere and the moment is right. We will be playing tracks from each of our albums, mixing old and new and playing new versions of some songs.
Are you as tight now as you could get as a band or do you revel in keeping a certain looseness to proceedings?
We work hard at being tight, and I feel proud of that tightness most of the time but it is nice to occasionally play things with a little more looseness and without drum machines keeping us strictly in time. When most of the show is controlled, those moments feel very enjoyable.
Has the band dynamic changed in that time too, with different members bringing different things to the table now, from songwriting to the sound?
Well the line-up of Felix, Al, Owen, Alexis and myself has been there since around the time of Coming On Strong and each of us has kind of had a defined role in all of that time I think. Now we have Rob Smoughton and Sarah Jones in the band and their incredible playing has improved the sound and made playing really enjoyable. I think the band definitely sounds the best it has ever sounded right now.
You have five albums under your belts, do you see the band as it is now in five albums' time, and how important are your various side projects and remixes in helping to keep things fresh for when you all get back together for tours and recording sessions?
Side projects are definitely helpful, they mean that we feel creatively fulfilled and we can enjoy Hot Chip for what it essentially is. When we come together to do Hot Chip it means that we feel we have had a break and can return to it with energy and excitement. I don't know how many more albums we will make but we're happy to keep going at the moment I think.
There seems to be a lot of talent rising up from the underground at the moment and getting some mainstream attention like Disclosure and Grimes, as both a DJ and a music lover, who are you feeling both in terms of their sound and their approach to the music?
At the moment my favourite new things are mostly from the hip-hop world. I am really in love with the Kendrick Lamar album and the Frank Ocean album, I'm into bits by The Weeknd and some of the new UK producers like Kowton, Joe, Blawan.