Having drummed for both LCD Soundsystem and Hot Chip, Pat Mahoney is close to two cutting-edge dance acts.
But nonetheless, Mahoney turns to disco-era proto-House for inspiration when DJing.
“I’m in my mid-30s, so I was floating around during the disco era, and heard it on the radio,” he said. “It was mysterious, but I definitely had that squeamish association with anything disco.”
Mahoney came around after playing in punk and indie bands, including Les Savy Fav. Hooked by dance music’s rhythmic focus and its emotional elements, he focused on house rather than percussion-oriented genres like drum n’ bass, some of which he compared to “the more obnoxious prog stuff.”
“I was bored by indie music — it was getting so insular and self-referential, and was kind of a drag,” he said. “So I started poking around in record shops and finding songs that were really fun music.
They were as interesting as anything other post-rock bands were doing, if not more interesting.”
Mahoney hooked up with LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy and his label, Death From Above records, helping blend two once-bitter genre enemies, dance and punk. Soon, Mahoney was also playing with Hot Chip, later joining guitarist Al Doyle and Murphy on a DJ circuit that combined disco, house and minimal techno.
“Hot Chip has a more improvisational aspect to it, while LCD is bunch of clattering machines. Each one is doing something relatively simple, but together they mesh into a sound that’s very complex,” said Mahoney. “With Hot Chip, the guys are all incredible musicians. They might use a sample for a song sometimes, but most of the time they play live.”
In his DJing, Mahoney hits a balance, neither plotting out a set nor winging it. Working in vinyl — a growing rarity — and when possible with the old-school Botek mixer used at disco-era clubs, Mahoney he admits sometimes trainwrecks. However, he prefers the old-fashioned method’s idiosyncrasies to software and MP3s.
After all, he says, chuckling, “even if I crash the mix, people forget in like 30 seconds.”
– Rob McMahon is a freelance writer. A graduate of UBC’s Journalism program, he contributes to Metro and other publications.