The world has been a less sexy place since Chromeo put out Business Casual nearly three years ago. Between nonstop touring, doing a residency in Vegas, appearing on late-night television with Solange Knowles, and making some steamy music videos, the New York by way of Montreal electro-funk duo hasn’t exactly had the time to record a new album. At least until now. Even after hinting here and there about the status of their fourth record in a few interviews earlier this year, vocalist/guitarist Dave 1 and keyboardist P-Thugg have mostly been keeping listeners in the dark about the their next helping of bonafied lovin’. So I jumped at the chance the interview Chromeo at Governors Ball.
Between the throngs of reporters/secret admirers waiting to talk to Chromeo and the usual time crunches that accompany bands about to play the main stage of a music festival, we didn’t have much time for soliloquies on things like Dave 1’s possibly libelous relationship with Ezra Koenig or why, exactly, they love “Call Me Maybe”. I did learn that the record is almost halfway done, it doesn’t have a producer yet, and Chromeo’s onstage charm and band chemistry extends to two-on-one interactions, making the interview feel more like a conversation than an interrogation. It might be part of “you can call me P” and Dave’s ploy, a distraction to keep the lights off on their new material a little bit longer; but if you’re a “Needy Girl” itching for more information, they did say you can find them not gambling in Vegas or at their studio in the ‘Shwick.
What’s the status of your forthcoming record?
Dave 1: We are… 45% in.
P-Thugg: Yeah, that’s a good way to put it.
Forty-five percent. That’s been mathematically calculated?
Dave 1: Uh… yeah. That’s actually a really accurate calculation.
P-Thugg: We’re going back tomorrow, to the studio.
You did say it was going to be 10 times doper than anything you’ve ever done. But you also said that the collaboration with Daryl Hall was the best thing you have ever done. So, is it better than playing with Daryl Hall?
Dave 1: Ah. Well, we split collaborations and albums. Collaborations we’re okay with. We’ve done the best we could up to date.
P-Thugg: Yeah, ’cause Rick James is dead. And Prince, no…
P-Thugg: Michael Jackson’s dead, so…
What about holograms, though?
P-Thugg: Ah, we’re against that.
Dave 1: I think there was a John Oates hologram, where we did the Daryl jam. I think you can see it online. But album-wise, yeah, it’s definitely better.
Are there going to be any guest stars, like Solange Knowles, or…?
Dave 1: There are gonna be, but we can’t say who it is yet.
Who is the producer? Is it Philippe Zdar?
Dave 1: He makes a lot of stuff, but he didn’t produce, ever, for us. But he kind of always produces without really saying it, you know what I’m saying? But I don’t know who we’re going to work with…
Dave 1: He micro-produces, yeah. I’m not really sure who we’re going to work with on this one yet, because right now it’s just P and I writing and producing. And then we’ll see where we’re at later. Maybe nobody. Maybe we’ll do everything.
So, I read an interview in Spin in which you said you didn’t know why you guys limited yourself to three-minute songs–
Dave 1: Yeah, I don’t know why.
But then you made that album, Drive Time, with like 55 songs in a minute and a half.
Dave 1: [laughs] But that was a joke! That wasn’t a real album!
That doesn’t count?
Dave 1: No, no. That was a joke when we had done this thing for a GPS.
As soon as I saw the tiny piano, I was like, “Okay, I don’t think this is for real.”
Dave 1: We had to do this thing for a GPS ad, and then, after the fact, we’re like, “Hey, let’s call this the shortest album, ha-ha-ha.” And then everybody thought it was real, which goes to show you.
Well, people are gullible. So, I just started reading Retromania, and I saw yet another interview with you guys in which you had your ’50s/’80s theory with Ezra Koenig: The idea that in the ’80s, the cool decade was the ’50s, and now, the cool decade is the ’80s. And you said that a lot of the music on Business Casual was–
Dave 1: With Ezra Koenig? Well, he’s the co-inventor of the theory.
P-Thugg: Mm, I don’t know. That was years ago even before him, before you even knew him.
Dave 1: No?
P-Thugg: Yes. We talked about this a long time ago.
Is this slander? Did you implicate Ezra Koenig in a theory that he doesn’t know about?
Dave 1: No, no! He does. I… I… We talked about it all the time.
P-Thugg: He agreed with you, but he had the theory way before.
Dave 1: I’m not sure about that timeline. I would trust your memory anyway. And that’s slander.
How does the theory fit into Business Casual, which you said was more modern even though you do use a lot of these retro influences? And a lot of people think music is kind of looking toward the past as opposed to the future. Do you think that’s true?
Dave 1: Don’t move. [Plucks leaf from reporter's hair.]
Dave 1: Um, Business Casual…I guess we were really into the ’80s/’50s idea when we did that record. So, like, the song “Grow Up” is kind of that. But we’re not really going into ’80s/’50s on the new record so far. And no more yacht. No yacht rock.
Are you guys moving more towards ballads?
Dave 1: No, no. More dance floor stuff, actually. Fun, disco, dance floor stuff. Fancy Footwork stuff. Fancy Footwork, but with a more sort of sophisticated musical twist to it. Yeah, more fun. Fun, fun, fun music.
Well, yeah, between the white blazer and the grills, I can tell you guys are fun. So, when will the first single arrive off the new album?
Dave 1: Early next year? Maybe end of this year. Who knows? Our manager is telling us in the studio on Monday, so maybe he’ll decide then.
Let’s talk a little about the Bushmills partnership, especially in light of the Emily White controversy. I don’t know if you heard about this, but she wrote an article about how no one buys music anymore. She just admitted that she downloads music illegally and doesn’t buy albums. But you guys are kind of saying that doesn’t matter, that your partnership with Bushmills is the only way you can really make money as artists.
P-Thugg: Ah, there’s another way. [Gestures toward festival grounds] I mean, not make money, but, like, put more towards the show. They helped sponsor and actually put lights together.
Dave 1: We didn’t use the Bushmills thing for money. They played more of a role that, like, a record label would play in a traditional scheme.
Kind of like Mountain Dew’s Green Label Sound?
Dave 1: But Mountain Dew…actually, Green Label Sound gives music away. Bushmills was more of a sponsorship that, like, we use for tour support, or like video support, or stuff like that.
P-Thugg: We don’t put the money in our pockets.
Dave 1: It’s not like, “Oh man!” [Makes money laundering signs with his hands] You know what I’m saying? That’s not what this is. It’s a way for us to kind of sustain and give more into the craft.[Seems to just notice tape recorder] Oh, is that for Consequence of Sound? One of our favorite blogs. You guys really support us. You guys are good. You’re the man. Really cool.
Thank you. I want to ask you guys about your month-long residency at Caesars Palace in Vegas. It took place in April, is that right?
Dave 1: It’s a bunch of Vegas things.
What else are you doing out there?
Dave 1: Rebel… I don’t even know. You have to check our website. I don’t know. Pure, Hard Rock Hotel… You have to look ‘em up, ’cause I don’t want to mess up anything. They’re fun. They’re cool.
I’ve heard Vegas is kind of a soul-sucking city.
Dave 1: We thought that, and then we found a way to have fun in Vegas without gambling, because we don’t gamble. And we’re not into, like, escorts, you know? But it’s totally feasible to have fun there. We just treat it like an amusement park. So, you go to movies, you go to restaurants. You go to, like, Coney Island. You go see a magic show.
Have you guys seen Celine Dion yet?
Dave 1: No, but we’re going to. We’re going to.
P-Thugg: Blue Man Group. We’re going to see Cirque du Soleil.
Dave 1: What’s the show with the intestines, like these two weird magicians, magicians with ropes? They have two names. Well, you do that. So, like, every time we go to Vegas for two days, there’s totally a way to have fun without feeling like you’re in the depths of Hades. That’s Hades, H-A-D-E-S. Not the country. Because that would be really wrong.
It’s funny, because Hot Chip said DJ sets are easier than live shows because you’re playing stuff other people made, but you guys said they were more stressful than a live show, because you were worried that the audience wouldn’t like what you picked.
P-Thugg: It sucks.
But your DJ Kicks compilation was so good!
P-Thugg: You can’t play that in Vegas. [laughs]
Is it a little esoteric for them out there?
Dave 1: Yeah, you gotta flirt with Calvin a little bit.
Yeah, I was going to ask about that, because you said you’re not opposed to EDM, it’s just not your thing. But your brother, A-Trak, seems to be associated with that genre. Do you ever get into arguments about it?
Dave 1: I like some of it. I mean, he’s a DJ, so that’s his craft, you know? He fits into EDM, but he’s also into hip-hop, and Danny Brown, and all that. It’s a good mix. And we’re more sort of on the indie side of electronic music. I do like a lot of that stuff. Like, what’s the Rihanna song? It’s like really dance-y. It sounds like something my brother would’ve done. It’s super EDM. Whatever it is, I heard it yesterday. And I love “Call Me Maybe”.
Oh my god, “Call Me Maybe”. That song. I’m still on the fence about it.
P-Thugg: It’s good. Guilty pleasure.
Dave 1: I mean, the verse is terrible, but everything about it… I don’t know. I love it. It’s Canadian, too.
Where in Canada is she from?
Dave 1: I have no idea. Internetville. But yeah, a lot of that stuff, like he said, guilty or not for guilty pleasure, but enjoyable music nonetheless. But our music is not. In terms of Chromeo’s original material, we stay true to the sound. We know what it’s for and we just try to make it better. This is going to be a lot better. I’m really excited.
P-Thugg: We’re really, really having fun.
Dave 1: That sounds super corny. Like, I’m sure if you interviewed Kenny Loggins, he’d be like, “All right, so much fun doing my new album.” But we actually are, and we’re still not that old so you can believe us.
So, P, are you still based in Montreal?
P-Thugg: Yeah, well, I live here now until September. But I have a house in Montreal.
Are you here just for making the new album?
P-Thugg: Yeah, mm-hm. Right now we’re together. We started separately, and now we’re together. We will have worked together for like six months by the end of September.
Do you think you’ll get sick of each other by then?
Dave 1: Nah. Well, we’ll do even more, though. It’s not like we’re stopping in September. We’re pretty much going to do the whole record together. You can find us in the ‘shwick. We’re in Bushwick every day.
I hear kind of nasty things about Bushwick.
Dave 1: We’re there.