Does It Offend You, Yeah?
The Reading dance-punksters chat to VF
Daniel Fahey - 28 February 2008
The quartet are a hybrid of two of the most widely-opposed genres of the last 30 years – punk and dance. They
resurrect the punk ethos of loud lyrics, riotous shows and a passion for fashion and mix it with the heydays of underground
dance, the type you'd find sweating in the Hacienda.
If you missed them on the recent NME Awards tour you might find them DJing in your local Topshop, but don't expect them to be happy about it. They'll be happier at festivals and they're bound to be at many, tearing up tents and stampeding stages with their incendiary live show that often ends in instrument-smashing carnage.
VF caught up with DIOOY? to chat about why they hate their next single, dislike
their Bloc Party remix and don't like the music industy much. Chin up boys!
Thier debut album 'You Have No Idea What You're Letting Yourself In For' is available to pre-order now.
Virtual Festivals: You've just come off the NME Awards Tour, how was that?
James Rushent: "Yeah it was good. The first week was a bit funny because everyone was sussing each other out but by the end of the second week everyone was getting on really well. It's not just the bands you get to know but it's the crew, the guys that pack the soundsystem and put it up. You get to know them as well as you do the bands, so it all ends up as a gynormous family with catering as well - just everyone."
VF: Are there any moments that particularly stood out?
JR: "There is but I can’t talk about that?"
JR: "There was this thing that happened which was amazing. But in terms of an actual gig it's probably Brixton on the closing night that really stands out. It was pretty cool." Read our review HERE
VF: What made it so special?
JR: "Actually hold on a sec, Oxford was really good because I had my family there, which made me really nervous for some reason. When we did Japan we walked out to around 8,000 people and I was a bit nervous but not too nervous. Then at Oxford Academy, which holds around 1,000, I was so nervous purely because my family was there."
VF: Were they getting involved in the mosh pit?
JR: "No, more sitting at the side. They all came backstage at the end and it was just a really good moment for us."
VF: After playing the NME Awards Tour were you not hoping for some nominations this year?
JR: "I don’t think so because we haven't really released much. Well, saying that I don’t know because Joe Lean [and the Jing Jang Jong] don't have an album out."
Dan Coop: "I think we're still too early on to start getting nominations."
JR: "Awards are nice but it's down to how many record sales you get. [The pair laughs] You can get all the awards you want but if you don’t sell anything it means nothing."
VF: Last year Guardian Unlimited gave you an award for worst band name…
JR: "They didn’t. What happened was…"
DC: "They wrote an article about it…"
JR: "They wrote an article about crap band names and we were in there."
DC: "And we were the ones slated most at the end of the article so we just did it as a joke: Worst Band Name – Guardian 2007."
JR: "Then it got around that we'd got given this award and we thought we'd just let it run rather than be like, 'No we didn’t.'"
DC: "We were the ones that really got slagged off."
VF: Weren't your NME tour mates Joe Lean and the Jing Jong or The Tings Tings in there? That name's even more stupid.
DC: "I think they might have been, yeah, but it’s hard to think of an original band name now that you can get an internet domain name for."
JR: "The Beatles Two. The Originals. The New Originals."
VF: Does it annoy you being lumped in with nu rave and this and that?
DC: "We've never looked at ourselves as nu-rave, we've just been lumped in with everyone else. We were doing more electro stuff to begin with, and as soon as you play in a live band with dance music you're nu-rave. Fair enough, call us what you want, but our music is more important to us."
JR: "I think it's a worry though because there are a lot of bands that get chucked in there like Metronomy, us, Simian Mobile Disco, and it's sort of half annoying because we have no idea what nu-rave is. We just sat down and made some tunes and that was it really. Then suddenly you find yourself with this tag."
VF: Is it just a media thing?
JR: "I think that’s just a British thing. The majority of people like to say 'okay that’s indie rock, that's nu-rave.'"
DC: "And then if you do take a genre like drum n bass you've got millions of types of drum n bass. You’ve got Clownstep…"
JR: "Trance n Bass."
JR: "I think it's a British thing to do because we only really get asked about it in England and when we're doing things abroad no one really mentions it. So if we go down with the ship, we go down with the ship, but we’re hoping we don't. We want to try and become our own band, kind of the way The Prodigy did with rave. They were classed as a rave band but they ended up becoming The Prodigy. So it can be done, it’s just a question of doing it really."
VF: How well is your music being received abroad?
JR: "Good. We did Germany and our tour manger said, 'Look you're doing small clubs, some of the gigs might not be too great'. We've had great gigs in England so we thought it would be a case of gritting our teeth and just getting the gigs done because we hadn't released anything over there. Then the first night we played in Hamburg the place is fucking sold out with 5000 people and the promoter was like, 'I've never had that before for a band that hasn't released anything.' Then we sold out every venue on the way. I actually like playing abroad more than I do in England. That's not because I hate England or anything like that, it's just there isn't all this chin stoking, nu-rave thing. Abroad they seem to take the band more as 'you are what you are' sort of thing."
VF: Is your success abroad to do with the internet, because it means if you haven't released anything people could've still heard your stuff?
JR: "Yeah I think so, we're an internet band. We got found on the internet and our demos have been going around for two years now, so I think most of how people have heard of us is through blogs and things like that. I think that's why we can go out to Germany and sell out a venue without releasing anything."
VF: You get bracketed in the UK but then you play something like the Tales Of The Jackalope Festival which is run by Vice magazine. That ties together the trends of fashion and music. Doesn’t playing these events bracket you even more?
JR: "You see that's the thing. We get a say, but we sort of leave it up to other people to book the gigs and things like that. When we first started in a band we were just a couple of guys so we didn't know about management or whatever. So you have these guys who manage all these bands and these people who have sold millions of records. Then you have record companies saying, 'You have to do this,' so you start doing it and it's only until later down the road and you start to go, 'Hang on this is bollocks, I don’t want to be doing this.' I'm not saying they're wrong but when you start out there's nothing you can do. These people are in the know, they’re in the music business."
VF: Would you like to have gone in another direction then?
JR: “We did in the end. We twigged early on when they wanted us to be a laptop dance band and we were like, 'You do know that we don't want to be that,' and they said, 'But that's what you are,' and we were like 'No we're not, we write dance music and we want to evolve and be something else.'"
VF: Did you end up playing places you really didn't want to play?
JR: "Yeah we've done some. I don't want to say where because that would be disrespectful, but we've done things where we didn't really want to do it. When you start out everything is good about the music side of stuff, but when it comes to promotional, or things like that, you trust people who do it for a living. Then you go down the line and you start to think, 'We don't want to do that and we don't want to do this,' and that was the point we got to six months ago where we started saying no. We got booked to play with Bodyrockers. Right, no disrespect to Bodyrockers, they had a massive hit, but it was some big dance night with Bodyrockers and it's not really the road we want to go down. We got told that we had this gig and we looked at the line-up, looked at the night and just said no."
VF: So you think nights like that dilute your credibility?
JR: "It's just not what we want to do. It's not to do with credibility or anything like that; it's just not where we want to place ourselves. I don't think we sat there thinking we want to be this, so we go down routes like this. It's more 'Would I go to a night like that? Would I want to sit there and watch that?' And the answer is no, I wouldn't. I wouldn't ever want to see Bodyrockers at that night. So what the fuck are we doing here?”
VF: Are there any
festivals you particularly want to play?
JR: "Reading. It's my hometown and it's what I grew up watching. I've been at Reading since 1992 and I've grown up watching bands there, so for me that's the big one. If we ever got to headline Reading I think that would be it for us."
VF: Would you
JR: "I remember seeing the Red Hot Chili Peppers when they were good in 1994, right down the front in the mosh pit thinking 'I want to do that.' So if we ever got there, there would be nothing else."
VF: What about a secret gig at the festival either DJing or live like the Kaiser Chiefs did in Leeds?
JR: "Things like that are very spur of the moment. I think the Kaiser Chiefs didn't know they were going to do that until the day before maybe."
VF: They knew quite a bit in advance.
JR: "See that's the thing with us. We do things like that every now and again; we do something a little silly. But it's usually literally the night before and we sit around talking saying, 'Don't you think it will be funny it we did that,' and then we just do it without telling anyone. We did a TV thing the other day and we were playing the tune with cameras and everything and I just thought, 'Wouldn't it be funny if at the end of the tune I legged it, just ran off the set,' because it was recorded outside so there was lots of space around. Plus it was recorded as live so there was no retakes or anything, so I was like 'I'm just going to do it.' So the track ended and I just fucking legged it off and Morgan was like, 'What did you do that for?' I said, 'I just thought it would be funny,' and then we saw it on TV and it looks fucking hysterical with camera crew running after me."
programme was that on?
JR: "Sound on BBC. Things like that are always spur of the moment."
VF: Does the spontaneity keep it fresh?
JR: "Yeah. It’s just something to do."
Does performing live become quite boring then?
JR: “That's funny because we were talking about this the other day. On the NME tour a couple of people were saying it feels like it's becoming a stage show. We all know what we're doing, we go out, we do it, we come off and have some food and it feels like it's becoming a bit stale. But that's just being a professional. Knowing what you're doing is being professional and doing your job. As long as you keep that balance of professionalism and spontaneity then I think you'll do alright. If you try and be spontaneous too much then it's just a mess and if you try to be too professional it gets boring. It's about keeping the balance. You know your job and you know what to do, but you can have a laugh with it."
VF: Is that why you've
stopped smashing your gear up so often?
JR: "Yeah, it started to get expensive and I'm one of those guys that if I'm going to smash it up, I'll really smash it up. Then it got to the point where you have your road crew and tour manager, who you respect and who are your friends, and if you smash something up it ruins their day because they've got to go out and find replacements. So you start to restrain yourself a bit, but still every now and then it's good to batter something.”
VF: What festivals are you booked on for this year?
JR: "The American ones. Lollapalooza, Coachella and a SXSW thing we’re doing."
VF: Any UK ones?
JR: "None confirmed yet, which is a little bit iffy. But we’ve got some in Germany, France and places like that. Actually I think we're doing Wireless in the UK. We're playing at Wireless aren't we?" [James asks Dan who is on the next table compiling a list of Top Ten porn stars]
VF: On the Fatboy Slim day?
JR: "Yeah on the Fatboy Slim day. We're also at Gatecrasher [Summer Soundsystem] where it's us, then CSS, then The Prodigy. They told me the line-up before they told me the festival. They told us we were going to support CSS and The Prodigy and I was like, 'Fuck it! Let's do it!'"
VF: Are you big fans of The Prodigy then?
JR: "Yeah, again, the whole Reading Festival thing. I watched them come out and destroy the place then Rage [Against The Machine] came out and destroyed the place. It was just like – this is it!"
VF: Are they fans of yours?
JR: "I think they’ve heard of us. I know Tom Morello has heard of us. Eddy Temple-Morris was on us really early and he's really good friends with Liam [Howlett] so he said he's told them about us and when we play Gatecrasher we'll meet up and things. That will be a bit of a moment I think."
VF: Would you like to remix some of their stuff?
JR: "No I wouldn’t touch Prodigy’s stuff, it would be sacrilege. There are some things you have a go at and some things you don't. Pendulum had a go at it and smashed it with 'Voodoo People' but we tried to remix stuff we've really liked in the past and it hasn't worked out."
VF: Like what?
JR: "A remix of Bloc Party [The Prayer]. It's weird because you get asked to do it and you’re like 'Fuck yeah,' then you get the parts and they're really good and you think, 'Shit. How can we make this better?' You end up in a weird head space of 'I've got to make this better, got to make this better.'"
VF: Which do you prefer live, DJing or remixing?
JR: "Oh live definitely. I hate remixing. I think we've stopped doing remixing now. DJing is good if, one: you're really pissed, two: you're with your mates and three: we get paid. Usually when you play with your mates you don't get paid, but I'd rather play with my mates. If we do a show and we're all on the piss and there's a party going on somewhere with some records, then that's cool. But if I've been paid a load of money to play it's different. [James hushes his voice] I mean we played Topshop today."
VF: I’m sure it wouldn't be the best place to play. People are there to do shopping.
JR: [Sarcastically] “Another bright idea.”
VF: What stuff did you play?
JR: "Just anything. I think we put on a mix CD at one point to have a chat. Things like that are rubbish. You're kind of selling your soul. I trust our circle of people and when they turn around and say we need to do this I listen. But one of the singles we’re releasing I'm not happy with.”
JR: "It's called 'Epic Last Song' which was purely written as joke really. You get an indie album and every last song is an epic song with big chords and we sort of did it as a laugh. It's a big epic tune about falling in love and blah blah blah. Then suddenly everyone went, 'that's going to be our next single,' which is weird because it was a joke."
VF: And how much say do you get in that? Could you get it changed?
JR: "Yeah, but they'd be a fight. It would be me versus 20 people. But that's why they get 20% of our earnings because of their guidance. I don't know more about selling records than our management because they handle CSS, Bloc Party and The Streets, so I can't argue. If they say,'You need this track to be put out because it will do this, it will do that,' then you agree. I hate the track but I can't turn and start talking about shit I don't know about. It's their call, and that's the other side of it, where it's hard. No bands really talk about it, unless you get them on their own and they're like, 'Yeah man, when we put that out I thought we were going to die.'"