Entertainment & Arts

Hot Chip: The band who are never 'on a break'

Hot Chip Image copyright Handout
Image caption Hot Chip are (L-R) Owen Clarke, Felix Martin, Alexis Taylor, Joe Goddard and Al Doyle

Dance act Hot Chip explain why they find it impossible to take a break - and how they've made a unique album cover for every copy of their new album, Why Make Sense?

It's 15 years since Hot Chip started making sweet dance anthems together.

That can be a long time in music, but frontman Alexis Taylor says he never had any doubt they were in it for the long haul.

"We'd been making music together since school, a good few years before we released an album, so I guess that told us there was the possibility of some longevity," says Taylor.

It's his fragile vocals, layered over Joe Goddard's beats, that form the bedrock of the Hot Chip sound, created with bandmates Al Doyle, Felix Martin and Owen Clarke.

"I suppose it's always felt like something we're very committed to doing," continues Taylor.

"So in that sense, I'm pleased - rather than totally surprised - that we're still at it now."

'Business as usual'

The band are buoyed up by the "great response" to tracks such as Huarache Lights and Need You Now, the first tasters of their new album Why Make Sense?

Since their debut, Coming on Strong, and its Mercury-nominated follow-up The Warning, they've built a reputation as one of the UK's finest electro-pop acts.

And despite now having a wealth of illustrious side-projects between them (including Goddard's The 2 Bears and New Build featuring Doyle and Martin), Taylor says it was "business as usual" when Hot Chip reconvened.

"We seem to just automatically start making songs together every year or so - we seem to need to get back together," he says.

Image caption Hot Chip played at Sage Gateshead during this year's BBC 6 Music festival

"We'd already begun tracks towards this album when we were coming to the end of touring the last one.

"It's quite hard for us to ever take a proper break because we seem to keep writing. We might be doing other projects but we kind of save things up."

The album's second single Need You Now - a house ballad, sampling a 1983 disco track, that builds into a guaranteed hands-in-the-air-moment - is a case in point.

"With Need You Now, before I'd written any words, Joe had made the bulk of that song... and wasn't really sure if it was going to be his own release or Hot Chip.

"He just played it to us in the studio and we jumped at the chance to complete it.

"The same goes for So Much Further to Go, which I'd written on my own but hadn't recorded.

"It was just a matter of playing it to the band and then suddenly it becoming a Hot Chip song."

'A team player'

Taylor says returning to the fold after releasing his second solo album last year gave him a new-found appreciation for studio collaboration.

"I really enjoyed making that record, but I was quite glad to come back. There was a feeling of the pressure being off in a nice way, because it wasn't totally down to me. It was nice to become a team player again."

Image copyright Hot Chip
Image caption Each Hot Chip album cover will be a unique work of art, thanks to a bespoke printing technique

When we speak, the band are in the midst of rehearsals to take the new album on tour. They're trying to work out "which of the undroppable songs are being dropped" to make room for classics-in-waiting from the new album.

"The title track is a really fun one to play," says Taylor. "It's got a very different groove. It's quite a raucous-sounding track so it has a wildness to it that's enjoyable to play live."

It's set to join Hot Chip faithfuls like Over and Over and And I Was a Boy from School in the band's festival set, as they return to Glastonbury, Green Man, T in the Park and Lovebox this summer.

After more than a decade of gigging, Taylor has noticed a slight change in the average Hot Chip crowd though.

"We sometimes see people with their dads at our shows - not just my own parents - but strangers in the crowd at Brixton Academy.

"That's quite pleasing, seeing different generations."

Modern pop stars

The band have been described as "one of the greatest modern pop acts" by The Guardian. But when it comes to feeling like actual 'pop stars', Taylor says, not so much.

"No, we feel like very much like everyday people going about our normal lives.

"But I feel very involved with pop music and very inspired by real pop stars and pop icons, so I'm kind of in quite a happy place in that sense.

"I've grown up inspired by Stevie Wonder, Prince obviously, the Beach Boys, all of the Beatles.

"I still go through different phases of obsessions with different members of the Beatles - George Harrison is the one that I'm most into at the moment - and that doesn't seem to fade after 35 years."

Image caption Al Doyle and Taylor at Glastonbury in 2008 where they'll return this year to play a stage they've not played before

Hot Chip have gone the extra mile to ensure their sixth album's a collector's item.

Each cover will be a unique work of art by their friend, the artist Nick Relph, thanks to a bespoke printing technique that's never been used like this before.

Inspired by Coca Cola's personalised bottles, the "custom algorithm" subtly changes both the colour and the image on each cover.

"We thought that would feel special for our fans," says Taylor.

When it comes to making sense of Why Make Sense? there's one more thing Taylor can reveal - the story behind the track White Wine and Fried Chicken.

Does it call to mind Hot Chip's favourite way to finish off a night on the tiles?

"It's just something that came into my head," laughs Taylor.

"I remember reading about [American rapper] ODB having buckets of fried chicken [backstage] and when he came out on stage he was still eating them and handing them out to the audience.

"A part of me was imagining [him] being the singer when I was writing it, rather than me.

"I'm actually vegetarian," admits Taylor, "so it's not really written from personal experience."

Why Make Sense? is released on 18 May. The album is streaming online now.

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