Given their aim to deliver the soundtrack of your summer, it’s fitting that Le Galaxie welcome State for midday libations atop an opulent hotel balcony beneath a blue sky and blazing sunshine. All that’s really missing are the appropriate tunes, the kind of which Le Club, the long-awaited follow-up to 2011’s Laserdisc Nights II from the Dublin retro-loving synth specialists, boasts in spades.
Now signed to Universal Music Ireland, the stage is set for Le Galaxie to take things to the next level, an idea they’ve continually rose to on the live circuit which made their name. As such Le Club feels, finally, like the perfect distillation of their onstage heroics, flowing and building in the manner of a frenetic yet laser-focused dance set. A mix of established favourites and guest turns from the likes of MayKay, Elaine Mai and Senita, not to mention a truly inspired additional boost to the previously-released ‘Love System’, it’s easily the most assured and effective release from the band yet.
“We know how to write our songs together now”, notes frontman Michael Pope matter-of-factly as counterpart Dave McLoughlin nods along. “I know it seems like, ‘Hey, you should know that’, but it took some time to figure that out, to actually put together tunes. We used to just smash all of our ideas together and come out with something.”
It’s taken some time to get here….
Michael Pope: “Quite some time, yeah. It’s only our second album but we’ve been working on it for the past two years or so”.
Dave McGloughlin: “The album itself was finished in about a year, around this time last year. We wanted to give it the best possible chance and get as many people to hear it as possible. By the time Universal got involved and by the time all the legal people made each other happy… this is the release date we ended up with. We’re raring to go, so glad to get it out to people. Hopefully it won’t take as long next time…”
Did you have a crazy list of demands from the label?
Michael: “Just, ‘Can we do whatever we want?!’. From the off, it was like, ‘Listen, we love this record, we’re here to release this record, there’s nothing we want to force on you guys at all and you will always have final say’. As you’ll see on the ‘Le Club’ video when it comes out, it’s a unique piece of work, shall we say. Even ‘Le Club’ as a first single, being effectively an instrumental track, it kind of still shows that we’re still Le Galaxie, that we didn’t have to come out with a big four-to-the-floor Calvin Harris type thing”.
There’s a refreshing lack of Calvin Harris-esque synth ramping on the album, thank Christ…
Michael: “Our idea was for it to be progressive but not terrible and modern and… ‘Where’s the drop?’, you know?”
‘Le Club’ and the previously-released ‘Humanise’ make a lot more sense in the context of the record.
Michael: “Yeah, absolutely. Those songs were always on the album. We were feeling the gap between when they were released and when we could put out the album. We wanted new music out there”.
Dave: “Plus, it was never going to be a concept album. We wanted it to be an album that you could listen to from start to finish and feel like you went somewhere, which was really important to us. Where the singles sit on the album is really important to us, too”.
Michael: “It really is, especially with ‘Carmen’ coming at the end. It was tempting to top-load the album with one of our strongest songs but it sits so well with ‘Freeway Flyer’ right at the very end. It’s the last ‘call to arms’ and then we go out on a seven-minute… I don’t know what you would call that song. What you’d call it is ‘my favourite'”.
Dave: “Credits roll”.
Michael: “I love it. As soon as me and David put it together in the studio 18 months ago, we had that opening synth sound and it was like…
Dave: “…holy crap”.
Michael: “It came together really quickly when we went away as a group on our little retreat, everything was really locked down and it became this hugely enjoyable song that we didn’t really want to end. The album gets pretty intense with stuff like the end of ‘Streetheart’ and ‘PM LA’… without going all Café del Mar, I know it’s a cliché, your Big Long Closing Track, but it suits the album so well as the farewell, the coda, if you will”.
Having heard all the previous work, this sounds the closest to taking the Le Galaxie live show and putting it on record….
Dave: “That really is what we tried to do this time. We worked with Eric Broucek, who has worked with DFA and that whole scene. It was really important to have somebody of that calibre work with us. He came in and mixed the album and brought that live energy to it. It’s not that it’s a ‘live’ album, it’s still very much a studio album, but at the same time that energy was very important to us”.
Michael: “We’re going to release a version with crowd noise over it and see how it goes down”.
That’s the double cassette version….
Michael: “Yeah, just nondescript crowd noises dotted throughout”.
Dave: “We have a four-sided vinyl edition coming out, actually. See, it’s 14 songs, so we’re not being assholes! In order to do vinyl pressing for 14 songs, you need that many sides”.
Michael: “It’s a beautiful thing. Wait til you see it. It’ll be out about a month after the album release”.
Just getting the album out after so long must be a beautiful thing. Were you climbing the walls at all?
Michael: “Well, not quite. We’re always creative, always busy… putting together the Universal thing took the guts of six months”.
Dave: “We’ve actually been working on album number three during that time”.
Michael: “Quite extensively”.
Dave: “It’s great to have that grace period. We worked quite fast on Le Club even though it’s taken a while to get it out to people. Similarly with the next one, we have a lot of the groundwork done already”.
That’s coming out a week after this one, right?
Michael: “That’s the thing, though. Now that we have a collaborator or partner in Universal, the turnaround with album number three will be remarkably quicker, we hope. We know how to write our songs together now. I know it seems like, ‘Hey, you should know that’, but it took some time to figure that out, to actually put together tunes. We used to just smash all of our ideas together and come out with something”.
Dave: “With this album, it’s the product of us all sitting down together at the inception of a song. Previously we might have taken a kernel of something and hashed it out, whereas this time, with many of the tracks on the album, we were all present for all of it”.
Michael: “Only me and Dave got to go to L.A., though!”
Did you draw straws?
Michael: “No, we were the only ones who were able to give up the time. The lads would have loved to have gone but it also wouldn’t have worked”.
Dave: “It wouldn’t have, no. Eric is so amazing at what he does [that] he doesn’t need four guys…”
Michael: “A guy of his calibre, you can’t have four people sitting beside him. It was tough enough with two, to be honest. His skill-set is so vast and technical and precise that we’d offer stuff and he’d nail it straight away or he’d actually have a better idea”.
Sitting next to him, was there any kind of awe or intimidation? You’re a fan of his work, after all.
Michael: “No, he’s just a really friendly, down-to-earth guy, you know? He’s an L.A. guy, really. It took us about two or three days to start asking questions about James Murphy, though! It was kind of a revelation to hear about some of his recording processes”.
How did you casually drop that into the conversation?
Dave: “We were talking about some particular aspect of what we were doing…”
Michael: “Drums! Stereo drums”.
Dave: “And he mentioned some of the techniques that he would do with LCD Soundsystem and the way James likes it to go”.
Michael: “Our way of working, we like pristine stereo recording. James Murphy likes… not lo-fi, but…”
Dave: “A more gritty, monophonic thing. James Murphy hates panning. We probably shouldn’t be kissing and telling…”
Michael: “He “doesn’t understand it”, apparently! So Dave was trying to expand sounds in the stereo field and Eric was like, ‘This is interesting to me because I came from this school where I didn’t work that way’, so it was very interesting for him to work with us because it wasn’t something he had tried before”.