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Sitting down with three-fifths of Hot Chip recently was like having Christmas come early. The electro-pop masterminds have been coming on strong in the U.S. for quite some time now, and with their fourth album just released – One Life Stand — Joe Goddard, Owen Clarke and Al Doyle had a lot to say, naturally. Amidst an abundant back catalog of singles and the like, One Life Stand is winning instant acclaim from critics, providing yet another jackpot for the band. Despite 2008′s Made in the Dark being a glitterball of disco-friendly jams (remember the opening to “Ready for the Floor”), One Life Stand turns the tables and takes us down a road brimming with synthy slow jams that have nothing to do with Hot Chip maturing their sound; rather, it shows how many directions this immensely talented group can take without being branded a “dancey” group. This relaxed approach to their sound comes with the boys toning their touring down a notch in the new year, despite constant demand from every reach of the globe. We’ve been lucky enough to be smothered in Hot Chip’s presence with a recent NYC jaunt in early February that geared up One Life Stand‘s release, and their upcoming April dates at Terminal 5 are sure to be mega now that their core fans will have memorized every line and grooved to every beat. What will make this ticket even hotter are support from young ones and fellow Southwest Londoners The xx. There’s something in the English air that must be doing these bands right, but let’s hear from the masters on how it’s done…

Are you in NY just for press?
Al: Mainly for press. Some of us deejayed last night at Sway.

Smiths night!
Al: Not a lot of Smiths got played though! Then we’ve got more deejaying Wednesday night at Le Poisson Rouge. I’ve got to do a bit of recording with James Murphy and then we’re going home.

How do you guys feel about deejaying versus playing live?
Owen: I hate deejaying [laughs]. I think it’s a strange thing to do. I can see how it’s fun, but I don’t like the scrutiny of deejaying. If you’re playing songs when people go to have a good time, they’re less likely to tell you what to do, but sometimes they’re all, ‘Play something better.’

Al: They do that at live shows too! The many years Felix (Martin) and I were deejaying at Hot Chip shows, we didn’t play any Hot Chip music and did all this techno, and people got confused and angry. In recent years people have got to know this is the kind of stuff we play.

Joe: If you have a good deejaying experience it can be exhilarating. When you’re on your own doing it, you feel like ‘I created this’. But with the live thing…

Al: We all chip in! [laughs]

Joe: If you have a bad gig, there’s five of you- we split the blame!

Safety in numbers!
Al: By the time we play our first show, it would be that we haven’t played in a year. We’re definitely up for playing live.

Wow, you took some break!
Owen: Our biggest break ever!

Joe: The first thing is rehearsing. I literally can’t remember how to play most of the songs! With songs off this new record, I was just writing things on my computer, I would just draw the notes in on the screen…

Owen: Not to give too much away! [laughs]

Joe: Even songs I’ve written, I have to learn!

Owen: So when you draw notes on the screen, on the grid, it doesn’t mean your arms can go to those places. So you have to hire an octopus to help!

Al: It’s hard but we’ll get there in the end. We had a really good year playing live.

Your upcoming NYC show in April at Terminal 5 is going to be in-demand!
Joe: When we play in April, we’re taking The xx on tour with us. I’m really worried by that point everyone is going to prefer them to us! I’ve not met them, there’s been a lot of press about them going to the same school that Alexis (Taylor) and I went to (Elliott School in Putney, London), but they’re a lot younger than us and were in primary school when we went there. We’re the big boys! Physically big!

How did they hook up with you guys?
Joe: It was some boring management email I think.

It’s going to be a really good show.
Al: People seem to be really excited about it. We’ve always done well in NY and the coasts in general. We’ve streamlined our touring. We had a really good tour a couple of years ago down South, Georgia, the Carolinas, etc. I don’t know if we’ll get a chance to do that this year. We’re not touring as hard as we did in the past. We’re doing more compact tours.

Joe: To some it wouldn’t seem compact, but to us, it is. We want to spend a bit more time at home.

Al: We get some really angry emails, like, ‘Why the f*** aren’t you playing Vancouver?!’ I’m like, I don’t know, we don’t play a lot of places! It’s not like we choose it!

Joe: What’s amazing about the States is that people will drive hours and hours to come and see you. The kind of thing that the distance in the U.K. would be thought of as really far!

We have a distorted concept of distance compared to the U.K! Are you going to be playing loads of cities back home?
Joe: We’re doing a shorter tour than we’ve done in the past, it’s a two week tour, but in two weeks you can cover a lot.

Where are you recording?
Owen: We’ve got a huge room in East London.

Al: The level of touring we’re doing now, we have all these things and want to be as prepared as possible.

Owen: And you have to learn the songs. [laughs]

Did you book any festivals yet?
Joe: We’re starting to talk about that now! We’re in a lucky position as our manager is married to Emily Eavis. They offered us the headliner but we were like, ‘No, give it to U2.’ [laughs]

Tell me about making One Life Stand and how it differed from past efforts.
Al: The first thing to say is we had a lot of time. We had a whole year mapped out with not much pressure. At the end it actually ended up being pressured for various reasons, but the time we were in the studio, in April, we had three to four weeks of weekly sessions and then ran into the summer; it was relaxing. We were recording in the studio I run with Felix, who isn’t here right now, and it was one big room that we set up, that would be very usable for the five of us. It was nice rolling in everyday- some of us would be there, some of us wouldn’t, and do this in a quite relaxed way.

Joe: That’s the real obvious difference to past records we made; we had a proper studio with a real desk and proper equipment. We never had that before. We had a real upright piano that Alexis bought. That became something we featured on the album through different points. It was a very nice time of being able to experiment. We recorded a lot of stuff that didn’t make it. For ‘Hand Me Down Your Love’ there were 200 tracks of audio. We stripped it down! In the past we made records in gaps between touring, but always had another tripped booked whilst making records.

Owen: Was it on the hoof or off the cuff? On the fly?! Well, it was we made it as we went; but with time invested. The process of recording wasn’t wildly different; it was the luxury of time that made it.

Al: Luckily we didn’t use that time to make some massive prog monster. [laughs]

Joe: Yes, it was our shortest most concise record actually! –Andrea D’Alessandro, Photo credit: Bevis Martin and Charlie Youle

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