HOT CHIP with CADENCE WEAPON at Lee's Palace (520 Bloor West), Wednesday (March 15). $12. 416-870-8000. Rating: NNNNN
Prince, if you're reading this, Hot Chip formally request your presence at their upcoming show.
Uh, yeah, sure thing.
Not that it's a completely unfathomable prospect, but Joe Goddard won't turn purple holding his breath. And even if Goddard and singer Alexis Taylor did put out a sexy dance-rock EP called Down With Prince, which is more than most fans can claim, it still might not be enough. That's okay. Goddard has a fail-safe backup plan to meet the seldom seen, quasi-mythical Toronto resident.
"I heard he goes around knocking on people's doors cuz he's a Jehovah's Witness," says Goddard from the streets of London. "I'm hoping he'll just knock on my door when I'm in Toronto. That's probably the only way I'm going to get to meet him."
Maybe the EP didn't penetrate Paisley Park, but it did get Tim Goldsworthy and James Murphy's attention. The producers/label heads of DFA Records know a good electro-rock hybrid when they hear one. After hunting Hot Chip down, Murphy added them to a few LCD Soundsystem tours in Europe before whisking the lads back to the DFA compound in New York.
They cut a catchy crossover track, Over And Over, to precede the new album, The Warning (out in May), and let Goldsworthy and Murphy have their way with the B-side. The result: a hot remix called Just Like We (Breakdown) that's currently pounding club P.A.s and fuelling indie-rock dance floors this side of the pond.
"They do rock music posed as dance music better than almost everyone else," says Goddard glowingly of Murphy and Goldsworthy. "There's a lot of vintage, fantastic equipment in their studio; they really know how to get the sounds they want. They also come from rock backgrounds, and got bit by the dance bug afterwards. So I think we have similar views about music. Plus, we get on with them as people."
James "I'm losing my edge" Murphy, who's no stranger to a good piss-take, picked up on Chip's wry sense of humour. Their last full-length, Coming On Strong, which dropped in Europe a year before DFA re-released it in 2005, is irreverently dotted with Taylor's smooth baritone diatribes about "being like Stevie Wonder" but "able to see things" in Keep Fallin', or Goddard's FX-heavy choruses about cruising his Peugeot, riding on chrome 20-inch rims and blasting Yo La Tengo.
However, on a planet where guitar-brandishing Arctic Monkeys have taken over, nerdy-looking Prince fans with programmed beats and Devo-ish lyrics can look confusingly left-field to the British press.
"At first, people didn't really know what to make of us and where we fitted in," says Goddard. "But we're starting to carve out a little niche for ourselves, and the attitude of the press is changing. It was annoying when the only thing people talked about was the humour in the band. It's definitely there and we like it there, but journalists get one idea and stick with that at the expense of a deeper understanding of what's going on."
One British scribe affectionately dubbed the group "R&Bedroom," referring to the Will Oldham recording style of their Down With Prince EP. Goddard is comfortable with the term because it's not far from the truth. Forming their duo in high school, Goddard and Taylor recorded everything in a bedroom before taking the next step: adding new members Owen Clarke (keyboard/guitar), Felix Martin (drums/MPC) and Al Do-It (guitar), they relocated to the living room for the Down With Prince sessions.
Surely, the Man in Purple would be just a little curious about who these pasty Brits claiming to be down with him are.
"I heard that he came to an LCD Soundsystem show in Minneapolis," says Goddard excitedly, "but it turned out to be just a Prince impersonator. I think it's pretty tough to get the real guy out."
Prove us wrong, Prince.