Owen Clarke (left), Al Doyle, Joe Goddard, Alexis Taylor and Felix Martin have given up trying to reproduce Hot Chip recordings in concert.
HOT CHIP at Kool Haus (132 Queens Quay East), Tuesday (September 30), 7 pm. $25. 416-870-8000.
After releasing their third LP, Made In The Dark (EMI), seven months ago and completing one sold-out headlining tour supporting it, Hot Chip are at that point where most bands hit auto-pilot until it's time to make the next record.
But even after a long summer of playing big festivals like Coachella and Glastonbury, the keeners in Hot Chip are busy prepping for their upcoming North American tour. That means overhauling their set and adding a live drummer to the fray.
While the soulful synth-poppers from London are best known as drum machine addicts, they've worked with some semi-famous live drummers in the past. Pat Mahoney of LCD Soundsystem and Rob Smoughton (aka Grovesnor) both hit the skins for Hot Chip back in the day.
This time the band has tapped another friend, Leo Taylor of London post-punks Gramme, in their most serious attempt yet to incorporate a drummer into their show.
"We've decided, again, to add a live drummer, because having one makes us more excited to be onstage. It removes us from our comfort zone and makes us think more about what we're doing," says Hot Chip co-founder Joe Goddard.
"For example, we're experimenting with doing a version of Boy From School that begins very gently, with just live drumming, but at a certain moment the drum machine starts and we go into the house version."
Hot Chip have tons of cred for creatively reworking their recordings for live consumption, but Goddard admits this is partly born of necessity.
The band uses computers and soft synths to write and record, which means that once a song is finished the band has to figure out how to play it using only live instrumentation. Tinkering with the "definitive" versions of their songs requires a creative approach that sets them apart from electronic bands that obsess over reproducing their records note-for-note in concert.
"There are certain sounds from the record that we just can't get live, so we don't even try," says Goddard.
"We're all about keeping the energy level high with just our set instruments, instead of slavishly trying to recreate something."
In addition to the thrill of Hot Chip's sweaty dance parties, Goddard says he still finds lots of other reasons to enjoy life on the road.
"I love to DJ after shows. I tend to come off stage with a massive amount of adrenaline rushing through my body, so DJing is a wicked way to finish off the night. I also buy tons of records on tour - I bought loads in Canada last time. I have to buy an extra suitcase just to get them home."