Much-loved British synth-pop band Hot Chip made their long-awaited return earlier this year with their seventh album, A Bath Full. We spoke to member Joe Goddard about how the electronic music landscape has changed over the past 20 years, the group’s ambitious music video for Hungry Child, and why they worked with outside producers for the first time on A Bath Full.
“We wanted new options and ideas from outside the group,” explained Goddard from his London home. He co-founded Hot Chip with lead vocalist Alexis Taylor in 2000. “We wanted to be excited by new techniques and new possibilities, and to be challenged a little bit more. Rodaidh McDonald [who produced one half of the album] was very focused on the structure of a song. [Lead single] Melody Of Love began life as a 10-minute instrumental club track, and Rodaidh asked us to focus on cutting the track down and developing it. He was good at pushing our songwriting abilities – he did that with several other tracks, too.”
Phillipe Zdar produced the other half of A Bath Full, which is available now, ultimately mixing the whole record for uniformity. He also concentrated on enhancing the songs sonically. Goddard told us, “On Spell, we played along with the track freely – jamming and developing new keyboard parts, and then he would very meticulously pick fun, interesting parts of our playing. [Working with two different producers] were quite different experiences, but we felt it was a good combination.”
One of the stand-out moments on the new album is Hungry Child, which is accompanied by an innovative short-movie style music video directed by Saman Kesh.
“Saman came up with the idea of a long-form piece with the concept of obsession portrayed in a really novel, interesting way,” stated the musician. “I thought that flipping [the song] on its head and making it about a couple, who become obsessed with the song so much that its playing for them constantly in their minds, was a super clever concept.”
Over the course of their 19-year history, Goddard and co have witnessed a vast shift and development of electronic music. They’ve seen it go from being an underground genre to something that dominates the charts. “Dance music is a much bigger commercial concern than it was 20 years ago. It’s interesting because these days, every kind of genre – from pop, to rock, to hip hop – is all created in a very electronic way. There are very few modern rock albums that aren’t using computers and relying on lots of software. A lot of music is electronic these days compared to 20/30 years ago.”
It’s rare to see a band last as long as Hot Chip have, maintain a continual career arc, and still have all their original members. The key to this, Goddard said, was treating each other with respect. “I think we value the skills that each of us bring to the group,” he said. “We take significant amounts of time off from the group in between records and tours, too, to take a break from each other and see other friends. I think that’s quite important.” Regardless of how long the break from each other, though, the five-piece are bound by their mutual love for the music they create together. “There’s still a lot of affection for each other in the group, and I still very much enjoy writing songs with Alexis. I really love his voice and it seems to still work.”