Never let it be said that Hot Chip aren’t averse to sexing up a dancefloor every once in a while: think, if you will, of the sun-drenched, sensual sheen of the breakthrough track ‘(And I Was A) Boy From School’, or the hypnotic, snake-hipped single ‘Over & Over’.
However, it transpires in our exclusive Irish chat with vocalist/keyboardist Alexis Taylor that he’s very much a -lights out’ kind of guy. Explaining the band’s third album title, Made In The Dark, he says: ‘I got to thinking about relationships and how quite an important moment takes place in the dark. As human beings, we are all -made in the dark’ to some extent. I was ruminating on the fact that important things you do are done by not speaking.’
The dubious existential title aside, Made In The Dark happily continues Hot Chip’s fine tradition of creating clever stomping electro-pop gems. From sturdy, infectious lead single ‘Ready For The Dancefloor’ to the funk-infused ‘Hold On’, this is an album packed to the brim with future festival favourites.
‘I reckon the new album won’t go down at festivals quite as well as the others,’ counters Alexis. ‘But we’re not feeling pressure to move on from the last record we made [2006’s breakthrough opus, The Warning].
‘We’re not fazed at all by success, so if the new album’s not successful, that’s fine,’ he adds. ‘There’s no big anxiety, it’s not a case of -Well, what can we do next then?’ Actually, we’re quite pessimistic about commercial success.’
But surely it wouldn’t hurt, I venture?
‘Of course we want to be popular, but there’s a feeling that we can relax now,’ Alexis explains. ‘It took two years for The Warning to filter through’¦it wasn’t a big seller, although it got a few nice reviews.’
Then with a wry smile, he adds: ‘Funnily enough, after the Mercury Award nomination [in 2006], a few papers began to revise their opinions of the album, saying it was the record of the year and stuff. It doesn’t exactly make you feel scared about putting records out.’
Needless to say, touring relentlessly impacted on the shaping of Made In The Dark in many ways.
‘It’s like being in a strange fantasy world where you play every night and a bus, food and beer seem magically provided,’ says Alex with a dry laugh. ‘And the crowd response to the music had shaped the album. Before, we were writing for our own pleasure, now it’s like, -how will that riff sound live?”
Further adding to the album’s frenetic energy is the fact that several tracks (‘Hold On’, ‘Out At The Pictures’ and ‘One Pure Thought’) were recorded live as a band and in one take – a direct consequence of tireless touring. ‘Yeah, we’d just worked with our live sound engineer on those,’ recalls Alexis. ‘We didn’t have a period of time to make any recordings, but there were gaps on the tours of two days at a time. I do think they have a different feel from the other songs but I hope they don’t stand out on the record, and that as a whole, it’s a coherent album.’
As would befit the electro outfit du jour, various remixes and collaborations have already been undertaken by various Hot Chip personnel, and it should come as no surprise to find that the troupe’s respective members are hugely in demand in that capacity. Most notable in their side-project arsenal so far is their remix of Kraftwerk’s ‘La Forme/Aerodynamik’, which was released on Kraftwerk’s Kling Klang label.
‘When we were offered the opportunity to do that, I think we said yes before they’d even finished the question!’ laughs Alexis.
Given the band’s undeniable crossover appeal, talk invariably turns to various popstars that could do with the Hot Chip treatment. Already, Kylie Minogue has been mooted in the press as a potential partner-in-crime.
‘Yeah, we’ve had her non-stop on the phone, but we’ve got no time for her right now,’ deadpans Alexis. ‘Nah, there’s no truth in the idea we’re doing anything with her.’
How about Britney Spears’¦her last electro-lite offering ‘Blackout’ could have done with a helping hand, surely…
‘Is she still alive?’ asks Alexis, genuinely concerned. ‘Last I heard, she was dying.’
In truth, Alexis has recently been kept busy with musical partnerships with Scritti Politti’s Green Gartside and Robert Wyatt. Still, there is one dream collaborator left to approach: ‘I’d love to be remixed by Timbaland, but then they might just get rid of my vocals and replace them with Justin Timberlake’s, which would be no bad thing I guess.’ Talk about a way of bringing even more sexy back to the Hot Chip fold’¦
Hot Chip – Ready for the Floor