DFW Music News

Q&A: Chromeo's Dave 1 Talks Hall & Oates, VEGA and Moving Away From Electro-Funk. Also? He Gives Us An MP3. And Free Tickets.

Less than a week from now, on Wednesday, August 25, at the Palladium Ballroom, the electro-funk masters in Chromeo will roll through town, bringing with them Brooklyn's Holy Ghost!, and, surely, the same tongue-in-cheek attitudes that have served them so well since bursting on to the scene with their 2004 debut, She's In Control. This current tour comes in support of the band's upcoming third full-length, Business Casual (see the video for lead single "Night by Night" above; the video for follow-up single "Don't Turn The Lights On" is posted after the jump.)

It's a weird dichotomy offered up by this duo of lead vocalist/guitarist Dave 1 and synth guru P-Thugg: The band's synth-heavy and hook-laden songs are, no doubt, catchy affairs; but the subject matter they proffer, more often than not, takes itself far less seriously (see: "Momma's Boy," "Needy Girl"). Rather than undermine their music, though, this goofball nature actually seems to enhance the overall sound, adding an added ironic appeal to the band's already heavily '80s-influenced, intentionally cheeseball aesthetic. Or so you'll come to believe upon finding yourself in a crowded room of fans all-too-willingly chanting "Chrome-o! Oooooooooo! Oh!"

In anticipation of the band's upcoming performance, we caught up with Dave 1 over the phone last week to talk about the upcoming record (Business Casual will earn its release in September), the band's recent collaborations with Darryl Hall (he of Hall & Oates fame) and his own rumored upcoming work with the local products in Neon Indian and VEGA. Read the full Q&A after the jump--where you'll also find a free download of Business Casual's second single, "Don't Turn The Lights On."

But first, there's this: The band's also been kind enough to pass along a free pair of tickets to its show next Wednesday. Want them? Be the first person to email me right now with the words "Casual Wednesday" in the subject line and they're yours. Good luck!

Update: Contest is over. Congrats to our winner!

Bonus mp3:

Chromeo -- "Don't Turn The Lights On"

Chromeo -- "Don't Turn The Lights On"

The big thing, obviously, is that Business Casual, your third full-length, gets released next month. Tell me a little about that.
Well, it's a progression for us. Just as songwriters and everything. And it's definitely got a cleaner production to it. It sounds better.

Really? I wouldn't say that's ever been a problem for you guys. Your stuff always has had a fairly produced sheen to it.
Well, maybe not to everyone, but for us, definitely. We put more work into it. And we can hear the difference.

So what's the idea with this tour? The album's coming out next month, so it's not like people are gonna be all that familiar with the new stuff.
Well, it's just kind of a reminder, so that, when the album comes out, people can be like, 'Oh, yeah, I know those guys. I just saw them last month!'

And I assume you're playing at least a few of the new tracks?
Well, we're mostly playing songs from She's in Control and Fancy Footwork. But we're playing four of the new songs, too.

Gotta assume that includes "Night by Night" and "Don't Turn The Lights On."
Yeah, definitely.

How's the new stuff being received?
Really well, actually. Like, "Night by Night" gets a huge reaction--maybe the biggest out of any of our songs.

Is that surprising to you?
Yes and no. I just feel like we're progressing.

How? Like, away from your whole electro-funk sound?
Maybe. I mean, what does electro even mean these days? I don't know. But, yeah, there's a song on the new album that's kind of a ballad, and it's all in French. But the singalong stuff has always been a bit of a specialty for us, as far as songwriting goes within the electro world.

Do you feel pigeonholed by that?
No, not at all. I think we should just take advantage of it. Like "Momma's Boy." I don't think that's your conventional electro track. If that can have its place when we play our live show and it works well, then we should do more of that. But it's encouraging at least, y'know?

Funny you should mention "Momma's Boy." That song's always reminded me of Hall & Oates. And I know you just recently played with Daryl Hall at Bonnaroo. But kind of lost in the shuffle of all that is that you'd already played his web series Live From Daryl's House well before that. Is that something you always wanted to do? To play on stage with him? I know from past interviews I've read that you've always counted Hall & Oates as a big influence.
Well, yeah, sure. They're a huge influence. But we never thought we'd be actually sitting with him and jamming. That wasn't even remotely close to what we even fantasized about. So when Live From Daryl's House happened, it was already like a blessing. And when the Bonnaroo thing happened, it was over the top, really. It was never something we aspired to do. It was more like something we dreamed of doing and hoped would someday be kind of possible, maybe. Until the option was presented to us, we never really thought about it.

How far in advance did you find out? I assume it wasn't a last-minute thing, something like that.
I think it got set up in January.

So you knew what you were going to do when you played together. It wasn't a surprise.
We had a vague idea, but, concretely, it kind of came together closer to the show date.

I know that his stuff isn't exactly new to you guys. Was there a lot of preparation on that?
P and I had prepared a little bit on our end. And then we rehearsed with them for a whole day. Actually, I think Daryl's band said that it was the longest they'd ever seen him rehearse.

That's gotta feel good.
Yeah. I mean, we don't feel cocky about it. It's just humbling more than anything. It's more stuff to live up to on our end--because we've got to improve! I mean, they're much better musicians than us. They run laps around us musically. So it was just more stuff for us to do.

I know you said you never planned that, but now that you've done a collaboration like that, do you see more collaborations happening down the road?
Not really. I mean, more stuff with Daryl would be cool.

Have you ever talked to Daryl about trying to get him on a record?
Yeah, of course. It's all about trying to get him on the perfect thing. We've talked about it, but it's all about doing it right and finding the perfect record for it.

I'd love to see that.
Me, too. I really enjoyed working with him. I really did.

One thing I wanted to ask you about was the Neon Indian and VEGA guys. I don't know if you know that they're from around here, but I know you've been spending a lot of time with those guys on the road.
[Laughs.] I know very well that they're from Dallas.

What's your relationship with them like?
Well, VEGA got signed to Fool's Gold, and that's how I got to know them. And there's talk about me producing their album.

We'd heard rumors of that. What's drawn you to their sound?
I think Alan [Palomo] has a knack for melody. He's a talented dude. And I'm slowly getting into producing records for other bands. So when it makes sense, why not?

Well, I know you've produced your own stuff with Chromeo. Have you worked much with other artists?
I've done another record for another band, this little-known French band called Adam Kesher. And my brother [A-Trak] and I did work on their record. So it's not a weird transition. I mean, if it makes sense musically, why not?

Speaking of making sense: I was a little surprised, given the local ties and your relationship with them, to see that VEGA wasn't on your upcoming bill here in town.
I wish, man. It was more of a logistics thing. I wish we had them on the bill. I love playing shows with them. We did a New Year's Eve show with them. Any show we can play with them is cool by me.

I know this tour is kind of the amp up to your album release in September, but what's after that? I assume you're hitting the road again?
Well, this tour goes until the end of the month. And then September's gonna be one-offs and promos for the record and all that. Then, in November, we're going to the UK and doing a whole month of promo over there. Then, in December and January we're going to Australia. And then we're doing another US tour in January--mostly major markets. And once we've figured out the festival circuit, we'll tour again in the spring. Our album cycles are like two years of touring.

Yeah, I know you guys didn't really slow down in the three years between this one and the last record (2007's Fancy Footwork). I can't imagine it really feels like you're back now hitting the road again--other than the change of pace provided by the new material.

Yeah, pretty much. But mostly I'm just anxious for people to hear the new songs. Nobody knows them. I'm just hoping that people find their new favorite song on the new record.

Chromeo performs with Holy Ghost! on Wednesday, August 25, at the Palladium Ballroom

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Pete Freedman
Contact: Pete Freedman