Among all of the brash, oversexed dance music out there — Ke$ha and Lady Gaga to name two — lives a mild manner British act that’s taken the club scene by storm.
Hot Chip aren’t you’re typical band, they’re quiet family men for the most part, but their inventive electro sounds and infectious melodies have made them one of the most sought after acts around.
Owen Clarke, who plays guitar, bass and synth in the five-piece, admits that they don’t fit in with their contemporaries, and while they’re not quite outsiders as one of his bandmates once said, they’ve never been part of a specific scene.
“There are usually a few scenes going on at once that are quite overblown,” he says as he sits on a train in England. “Some of it is overblown. We’re making records for ourselves. We’re not quite outsiders, but Hot Chip is kind of an island.”
That island is growing, as more and more fans, particularity in North America, get to know the band. Their last disc, Made in the Dark peaked at No. 109 on the Billboard 100 chart and reached No. 2 on Billboard’s Top Electronic Albums chart.
Clarke chalks up the group’s overseas success — something that eludes many U.K. acts — to the advantage of time. “It’s been really gradual,” he explains. “We haven’t been rammed down anyone’s throats and played lots of shows in the States in various forms over the years. That’s something new bands will have trouble achieving — people want the next shiny thing, but we’ve been lucky because it never made sense for everyone to get it. We’ve always antagonized some people and others really like it.”
With all their recent success, you might think the band would try to emulate their popular last record, but instead the group has made a pretty significant departure. One Life Stand is filled with soft soul songs and saccharine lyrics about love. There are some familiar dance tracks, complete with blips and synth, but a song like Slush, which sounds a lot like an old, Elvis-style R&B track, is something totally different.
Part of the change had to do with the band’s recording schedule. They took a year off touring to focus on writing music and, says Clarke, they didn’t spend much time listening to other acts.
“We wrote almost in isolation,” he says. “That meant other influences emerged. Soul has always been on our previous records, but other things, maybe more grabby elements, stopped people from hearing that.”
Because of the longer writing process, his co-workers have said that One Life Stand is their most complete record yet. Clarke agrees.
“The last record was sprawling and almost felt two sided,” he says. “It was an attempt to do a double disc without making two albums. It shifted wildly in references, sonically and lyrically. This one synthesizes those areas more.”