You guys are on tour in Europe at the moment. We were wondering how touring over here differs from touring in the US? Basically, who has the better fans?
It all depends from city to city. Last night we were in Cardiff, and the crowd was pretty… stiff. But we played in Tallahassee Florida recently, and it was the same sort of deal. I will say though that touring in America is a lot easier than touring in Europe. Everyone speaks the same language, you don’t have to keep changing currency, you can still use you iPhone.
How does London compare to other places?
We’ve played London 17 times, so it’s pretty good. We’ve being looking forward to this show at the roundhouse for some time. About a year ago we played two shows at the Roundhouse, opening for Bat for Lashes. Those were really nice shows. It’s going to be great to come back a year later and sell out The Roundhouse!
You’re touring with Suckers at the moment. We’re really loving them at the moment in the office. What do you think of those guys?
Yeah Suckers are a band that we come from New York. They sang on our first album. I produced their EP, so there’s always been a creative dialogue. Sadly people haven’t really heard their record over here ’cause they don’t have a record label. There album is definitely one of my favourite albums of the year – they’re brilliant songwriters.
Cool. We want to ask about your takeaway show you did with Vincent Moon. How did that go? You guys certainly seem a little bit reluctant in the video at the beginning, but it’s becomes absolutely beautiful in the end.
We were familiar with his work. Blogotheque was the first website that was doing these sort of stripped down performances. I think our show was one of the last ones that they actually did with the original creators behind it. So we kind of new a bit about it, and we decided to work with him, but I was a bit reluctant to do something so spontaneous and sloppy, but it kind of turned into this odyssey where we were travelling through the streets of Paris, going on the subway and we picked up people along the way, kina like a modern day pied piper or something. We were glad that it wasn’t just a performance, but actually turned into a little documentary of that night. It does make it look a lot more romantic than it actually was! Ever since we’ve been reluctant to do another session, ’cause we want to keep that experience sacred.
Your music videos are a lot of fun and a bit bizarre? You’ve being working with the visual artists Radical Friend recently for a lot of them recently. Do you want to talk about the process of working with them?
We were upstate working on ODD BLOOD and came across this interactive video for a Black Moth Super Rainbow song, where you could run the mouse over it and the scene would change. Its very beautiful and seamless and utilised technology in a very creative way. Chris just looked them up online and got in touch with them. It turned out that they were big fans of us. We knew ‘Ambling Alp’ was going to be the first video, and they kind of just came to us with loads of these surreal crazy ideas. We looked out when Daft Punk’s production company decided to produce the whole thing. They had a load of great connections with these great artists in LA who worked for little money and take part in the exciting outdoor scenes. The people who worked on it, all the naked extras, came in the next day and were like “being out in the desert was one of the best experiences of my life!” It seemed to be a pretty amazing experience all round. They then started on the ‘O.N.E’ video. That was more like, hey lets do something more performative and pay with the idea of a band playing live, but doing it in a totally new creepy and futuristic way. That turned out really good too so those guys are 2/2 now. Someone huge recently asked them to do a video for them, but they turned it down ‘cos they were too busy working with us!
As a band, where do you guys see yourselves headed from now?
We’ve always being about the slow constant build. I just want to keep putting out relevant good music. I don’t ever see us becoming the next Coldplay or U2, but I’d like to keep making songs that appeal to a wide audience, that people find interesting and innovative.
Since you recorded Odd Blood, and release ambling alp, you seem to have received a lot more mainstream attention. How do you feel about that? Is it a good or a bad thing?
I don’t think we’ve really achieved any real mainstream success. I certainly don’t feel it in my pocket. Every time we feel like we’re breaking through, we seem to hit a wall. Somehow it’s still just a little bit too weird for Radio 2, or whatever it is. I still feel like we’re outsiders, we not on a major label and we’re not getting nominated for any Grammys.
Is that the way you like it?
I sort of think that unless you buy into the structure of the major labels, you’re never going to get that mainstream success. You could have the poppiest song in the world, which I think we might have with ‘Ambling Alp’ or ‘O.N.E.’, but some major label bands that put out those kind of pop singles are going to be the ones that get nominated for Grammys. We like to model ourselves on the more long-term career bands like The Flaming Lips, Beck and REM. For us, the struggle is just to remain positive when you’re on gruelling tours playing the same songs over and over again, yet feel like we’re still being productive. So you just have to make time for that.
You guys hit the festival circuit pretty hard recently. How do you guys like festivals.
Well its good, we’ve got a good monitoring system together. We’ve got all the difficult situations solved now. I mean the 20-minute changeovers you have at festivals used to be a pain. Our first run of festivals in 2008, we were plagued by technical difficulties and people were complaining that we took 30 minutes to sound check. People don’t realise though that at a show at a club you have sound checked for an hour at least before people get in there. We’ve finally sorted all that out now though. I really enjoy them though. I mean, there are a couple of really horrible corporate, muddy drunk festivals with terrible bands. But there are other festivals that are more boutiques, where they try and be more sustainable, with good vegetarian organic food. After playing all the summer festivals though, its good to be back in the club, playing to your fans. Back in the summer we played at Austin City Limits where we were on just before The Flaming Lips. All there fans were in the first 10 rows, and they had now idea who the hell we were. We just went on playing our songs, and we realise that none of these people actually care about our songs, there just here to get good seats for the flaming lips. There’s always that kind of problem. BUT, you feel like you’re really accomplishing something when you win over a crowd at a festival.
You mentioned The Flaming Lips and Beck a couple of times. IT seems like you guys look up to them quite a lot. If you could get a compliment from one person on your music, who would it be?
Beck actually took us on tour for 5 days. When we got there he told us that he loves our album. We were like “What, YOU like OUR album!” His music changed my life when I was 12 years old. When Jay-Z gave us a shout out a Coachella that was pretty amazing as well. So we’ve gotten a fair bit of love already. I don’t know who else alive is out there that I would really love to be complimented by.
On last question completely out of left field. We heard a rumour that someone out of the band helped decorate Kanye West’s apartment. Is there any truth in that at all?
Yeah, Ira used to be a carpenter. One of his jobs was in Kanye’s apartment. They had to build a bunch of differently styles of trim in his room. They had to build it just so Kanye could come in and say, “I like that one”. HE couldn’t just look at a brochure and say I want this one; he had to have them all built.
Cool, thanks a lot for everything. We look forward to seeing your show tomorrow night.
Dasal Abayaratne & Chase Jackson