Hot Chip
So, who’s the hottest chip?
By: Dan Grunebaum | Jun 8, 2012 | Issue: 950 | No Comments | 1,239 views

Courtesy of Hostess Entertainment

After a brief hello from English dance band Hot Chip’s Joe Goddard, the next sound to emanate from the end of the phone line is a toddler’s contented gurgle. New addition to the family? “We have a year-and-a-half-old girl, and another baby due at the end of May,” Goddard responds gracefully, adding that co-founder Alexis Taylor is also a recent dad.

Seems Hot Chip have been busy since the tour for their last album One Life Stand, with a stop at Fuji Rock ’10. How is fatherhood playing into the late-night lifestyle? “In every way possible,” says Goddard. “A lot of the new songs have to do with having a baby—and trying not to be away from home for massively long times when touring.”

Not only have the new family additions influenced the lyrics on Hot Chip’s fresh batch of songs on their new LP In Our Heads, Goddard’s daughter unknowingly even made her own vocal contribution. “The second track ‘How Do You Do’ refers to how your child can rouse you from depression and give you strength to carry on,” Goddard explains. “There’s another track, ‘These Chains,’ which features samples of my baby’s voice. If you listen there is a strange indeterminate sound after the chorus—that’s a sample of my daughter making a contented sound that we repitched. The song is about how responsibilities limit your freedom, but also feel like an essential part of your life.”

Goddard says he and Taylor have recently been joking that their kids will form a band called Microchip. Which leads inevitably to the next question: Who’s the Hottest Chip? “In terms of looks it’s Owen,” Goddard laughs with surprise in a way that almost suggests he’s never been asked before. “He’s a handsome guy. In terms of musicianship, Al’s the best. But we all have our hotness in different areas,” he concludes.

Hot Chip’s heat has also been warming the pop music charts, where they have made a strong showing since being signed by LCD Soundsystem in the middle of the last decade. Their 2006 major label debut and second album, The Warning, sealed the deal with the public, spawning two UK top forty singles and getting shortlisted for the Mercury Prize.

Early boosters and fellow ’80s plunderers LCD Soundsystem happened to play opposite them at the 2010 Fuji Rock. Initially planning to catch LCD, I only ended up seeing Hot Chip when a sudden downpour made staying in the covered Red Marquee seem the wise move. Missing Hot Chip’s live set would have been a damn shame, because their radio-friendly recordings sound a bit faint after their bubbly live performance.

“There’s going to be seven of us on stage playing a vast range of synthesizers from the ’80s along with modern equipment, live drums and bass, steel pans…” Goddard says about their upcoming set at Hostess Weekender. “We’re right in the middle of rehearsing, so we’re trying to forge a new live show that hopefully is exciting as possible.”

What exactly is it about the ’80s that entrances bands like Hot Chip? “It’s an interesting period because studio technology was at a good point,” Goddard, who was born in 1979, observes. “People were still using real studios and recording onto tape. They had amazing new synthesizers and effects. But things hadn’t gotten too computerized, and I think the sound of those records is good for that reason.

“There’s something about the beginnings of making synths talk to each other in a certain way that gives those records a certain kind of appeal,” he continues, citing artists like Human League and Giorgio Morodor. “People talk about the fact that it was difficult to make sequenced records in those days—the struggle made them better. You had to really think about what you were doing.”

Before our allotted 30 minutes end, Goddard has a brief window in which to wax lyrical about Hot Chip’s return to Japan. “I find Tokyo mesmerizing,” he enthuses. “The way things are quite hidden for a Westerner. You can get on a lift to the fifth floor and end up in a bar that seats only 15 people. It feels like an adventure just finding somewhere to eat or drink. It’s magical.”

Hostess Weekender, Jun 24 (listing).

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