ADULT. with GENDERS at the Horseshoe Tavern (370 Queen West), Wednesday (October 19). $14, $12 advance. 416-598-4226. Rating: NNNNN
Detroit electro pop band Adult.'s reputation for seriousness has been greatly exaggerated.
Talking to the trio via speaker phone, they're actually quite silly, joking and giggling their way through the interview.
"We're very serious, but we're also very sarcastic, which not everyone gets," explains Nicola Kuperus.
"Nicola actually does a stand-up routine between songs when we play live," Adam Lee Miller interrupts with a chuckle.
"There's this bumper sticker that says, 'Life is hell, but it sure is funny,' which kind of sums it up for me," interjects newest member Samuel Consiglio.
Adult. started out as the husband/wife duo of Kuperus and Miller back in 97, before the current electro revival kicked in. They put out their own records on their label, Ersatz Audio, and embraced a fiercely DIY attitude that borrowed more from punk than techno. (Just before the interview, Kuperus was silkscreening shirts for their upcoming tour).
Their newest album, Gimme Trouble, is also the first to be released on someone else's label, namely the Chicago indie powerhouse Thrill Jockey. In the meantime, they've put Ersatz on indefinite hold in order to concentrate more on the band.
"After a while, running a label starts to feel a bit like running a cardboard factory," complains Miller.
"We thought this move was going to free up a lot of time, but instead we're just as busy with band stuff as we were when we were running the label," says Kuperus.
The addition of Consiglio has added another songwriting voice to the project and freed up some hands to play more actual live instruments in addition to the vintage drum machines and homemade electronics.
To my ears (and many other critics'), Gimme Trouble is the most overtly rock album they've put out, but Miller has another opinion.
"I was agreeing with journalists when they described it as more rock, but I listened to it the other day and I don't really hear it, except for the guitar. Some people automatically think rock when they hear a guitar."
To be accurate, though, it was always a bit strange that Adult. were associated with dance music, and even stranger that they were asked to do so many remixes over the years.
"We haven't done a remix for a while now. We were supposed to do Ladytron, but since they're on Island, it got all screwed up," Kuperus recalls.
"We'd go through the whole process for deciding on a song, and then someone else from the label would call and ask us, 'Would you like to do a remix for Ladytron?' and it would start all over again.
"Every time we try working with major labels it's a mess. It's like the left hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing," Miller explains.