Hot Rats: 'We arrived by helicopter playing 'Ride Of The Valkyries''

United Kingdom United Kingdom | by Daniel Fahey | 22 November 2009

Virtual Festivals: So, from the start, what’s made you step out of Supergrass and form the Hot Rats?
Danny Goffey: “It is an extension of this thing we did called the Diamond Hoo Ha Men, which we did a few years ago to promote our album when Mick [Quinn, Supergrass bassist] had an accident. We had to go promote it and we had the idea of just the two of us doing that, stripping the whole thing down. Then we spoke to Nigel [Goldrich, producer] and he just fancied recording it and we started with ‘Beat It’ by Michael Jackson and we recorded that. Then we had this idea to record an album very quickly in a couple of weeks. But we haven’t really stepped out of Supergrass but it just something we’re doing in the meantime – a Christmas project.”

VF: Have you found it has given you more freedom?

DG: “Yeah, I think it gives us a lot of freedom – it’s a lot easier with just two people. There’s not as much pondering on what we’re going to do, things happen very quickly. So to a degree there is some musical freedom, yeah.”

VF: How are you picking the covers? Who’s choosing what to play?

DG: “All three of us chose them. But it is sort of different from just doing covers because we really try to twist things round and do our own thing to make our own small package of songs from different ages and genres of music. I think it would be really boring to record them basically.”

VF: Is it more about putting your own twist on songs you love, or have you picked songs that intrigue you that could do with a makeover?

DG: “It is hard to say they could do with a makeover, they’re all great songs. I don’t think we were trying to better any versions; it is just a way of recording very quickly with any writing input or anything. Some of them, like ‘Big Sky’ by The Kinks – which was recorded really basically and sounds like it was put together in an afternoon, but it is still a great song – it had a lot of room to do a lot of stuff and to make it psychedelic, so that was the kind of idea.”

VF: And when can we expect the album to come out?

DG: “It is coming out in January I think.”

VF: Will you be touring it?

DG: “Yeah we did a tour a month ago around England and Scotland. But we’re doing a world tour, but it is a bit tongue-in-cheek because the venues are only really small but we’re doing one in Tokyo, pone in Paris, one in L.A., New York and one in Mexico – so it is a really silly world tour and we’ll play to hardly anyone.”

VF: Has it taken you back to the early days of Supergrass, playing to small crowds?

DG: “Yeah it’s alright. It got to become a bit of a pain in the arse after two weeks into the tour and it reminded us why we were happy not to play toilet tours anymore. But on the whole it is really fun and we’ve got a really small crew – there’s only four or five of us at a time. It is like going camping.”

VF: Talking of camping, you’ve done a few festivals. The first one was Glastonbury as secret guests. How did that come about?

DG: “I don’t know really. I knew we got the gig there but I didn’t know we were going to be surprise guests. I live right next right next to Glastonbury in Somerset, which is great for me as I live just down the road. But it was brilliant, it was one of the best festival moments I’ve ever had over that weekend. It was a real good one for me.”

VF: In what way? Are you a regular at the festival?

DG: “We’ve played Glastonbury three or four times as Supergrass, but I’ve lived in Somerset for 18 months but I miss the one last year. I think I am definitely going to be a regular there now. I went to a stag night on the Friday night with Steve Mackey from Pulp, which was an insane night full of good fun and I just had the best time for three days.”

VF: As the word got out about the Hot Rats, how do you think your festival performances progressed throughout the year? You were up against some big bands at Reading.

DG: “It feels amazing. I didn’t really think ‘shit, we’re playing against different bands’ it was just great to be asked to play at Reading and Glastonbury as well. We did a few other little ones including Bestival which was good. There were loads of people there and we kind of expected to have a few people watching us but because it is more an idea we had rather than a band, it just started moving itself to do these festivals, which was great. I prefer playing in a smaller tent because you can really get a vibe going whereas outside – unless you’ve got thousands and thousands of fans there and you’ve really got their attention – it is quite hard to play on the big stage. But in a tent you get more, maybe slightly weirder people, that are in there who aren’t quite as mainstream.”

VF: Have you had any odd or memorable experiences at festivals?

DG: “I remember arriving at Glastonbury by helicopter in 1995 just after we’d had an album out. It was really peculiar because we landed and nobody knew who we were really because we were a very new band. We had ‘Ride Of The Valkyries’ [Richard Wagner piece used in the film ‘Apocalypse Now’] playing through loudspeakers as we flying through the air.”

VF: Is that you’re most rock and roll moment?

DG: “It is quite rock and roll I guess. I quite enjoyed a lot of the smaller festivals. We did one up in the north of Scotland [Wizard Festival] last year and we went by helicopter as well and it is just little things like that that make it good fun. I’ve had countless mad nights at certain festivals that I probably shouldn’t go into really.”

VF: As we’re at an awards ceremony, let’s talk about the last 12 months. Who has been your favourite band?

DG: “I suppose someone like the Arctic Monkeys. I know that had a bit of a hard time at festivals, but I think it is great that they stuck to their guns and played their own stuff, which is the sign of a confident band. I think that was a cool thing to do, but I think it upset a few people. I really like a band I saw at Bestival with a guy and a girl playing keyboards and stuff and he sort of does poetry and sings over it [we have no idea who this is –Ed.], but I like them.”
VF: Was it your first Bestival? How did you find it?
DG: “Yeah and I thought it was alright actually. I thought it was good. I thought it could have had slightly better facilities or a bit more backstage-y stuff. And we were playing in the Big Top tent and it was just a bit crappy. There wasn’t really anywhere to hang out, but it was quite nice not to have that separatism and I think the idea with Bestival is everybody mixes in and it’s great.”

VF: What are your festival plans for next year?

DG: “We haven’t got any plans really. Hopefully we’ll have Supergrass album at some point, we’ll see how it goes.”

VF: Have you started recording or anything?

DG: “Yeah, we’re sort of halfway through an album and we need to see if we need to add sounds or more songs like that.”

VF: It’s Glastonbury’s 40th anniversary next year, which three headliners would you like to see play?

DG: “Wow is it there 40th anniversary? The Rolling Stones – they’re tipped to play. What about Gay Bikers On Acid – I’d like to see them reform and play. What about the Butthole Surfers? Yeah, maybe the Butthole Surfers.”

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