The other day we got up early to call Klaxons guitarist Simon Taylor, and chat for a bit about touring, clubbing, remixes, broken bones, recording, America, Nottingham, guitars...basically everything EXCEPT the silly-ass "new rave" whatchamacalits obscuring the fact that Taylor and his boys are making some really fun and interesting electronic rock music at the moment. We did just say "glow sticks" in the title though. Fuck. Anyhow, check out what we heard from our end of the cell phone connection after the jump, and download the Crystal Castles remix of Klax jam "Atlantis To Interzone" (from the Xan Valleys EP) right here.
What have you guys been up to the last couple days?
We’ve just been—we’ve kind of just finished bit of our NME clulb tour with a band from Norway called Datarock and a band called Shit Disco that we’re friends of. We’re literally like a few days after it now. We’ve just been finishing off our record, we finished the record off two nights ago, so all is well—it’s done.
Has the tour been taking you guys all throughout the UK?
Yeah it’s a 17 day tour so 16 of the 17 days we’ve been like everywhere in England, which makes it even better, Scotland, Nottingham...we never play there so it was good to get outside of London as well.
What was the best show so far?
I think up north—it’s always one of those things when your band starts out playing in London you have this kind of fear—sometimes things are just heavily isolated within that district. When you go outside of London and play a concert, that’s like a massive deal for us, although north of England has always been major when we played there. Like Manchester, Leeds, and Liverpool, everyone seems to actually go nuts for shows over there. Although London we played a big live band show a few days ago and that was kind of a whirlwind.
Were you friends with the people in the other bands before the tour?
Yeah, the band called Shit Disco, we have the same management team as them so we played a bunch of shows with them before. Musically, they are coming from a not too distant planet. Datarock I’ve never met before. I think they are from Norway, they are very nice.
Have you guys been partying on the road?
Yeah, we came straight back from Yorkshire to England and then did a video shoot and then started the tour and I think everyone was jetlagged and hung over and our heads were kind of all over the place so we had to take it easy.
I would imagine everyone catching colds and being completely exhausted.
Yeah, and injuries! Unfortunately the drummer from Shit Disco fell off his tourbus roof and shattered his wrist to pieces.
What was he doing on the roof?
He was jumping.
Yeah, he shattered his wrist to pieces so they had to have a session musician. With that and my [limping] leg, I think injuries have been the dangerous disease on the tour.
Is the album completely finished?
We’re finished now. We finished it two days ago. We went away to Hastings, which is where big battles were faced 200 years ago. We were locked away in this small, strange farm with three bedrooms with our producer. We stayed there for three weeks, we did the majority of the record there and we just had one more vocal to finish up so we came back to London the day after and finished the vocals—so its done now, it’s just being mixed. It should be finished in a couple days.
What kind of stuff did you talk about with James [Ford, of Simian Mobile Disco] before you started recording?
James was quite good as producers go, from the minute we went in the studio with him he just seemed to conduct everything really well. He knows exactly where we are coming from musically, and he’s incredibly productive in the studio and active and always seems to be running it like 50 times faster, kind of encouraging people to experiment with stuff. Just a great person to work with, we have become friends with him and we’re comfortable working with him. That lends a lot to the overall feel, if you have that close a relationship to the producer—if we don’t like what he’s doing we can tell him, and likewise with us, so it’s a pretty good relationship.
Does he produce with a DJ mindset or does he come at it more like someone in a band?
I think more like someone in a band because before he was doing this Simian Mobile Disco remix thing he was in Simian, he was the drummer. He has the element of...he has the ability to look at things from a lot of different angles. The great thing about James is that he really understands structures, and he’s always been incredible at structuring songs. I think he’s more of a kind of band member.
So you guys didn’t necessarily approach stuff like, "We need to make this danceable...”
No definitely not. I think there was always an element of dance to everything—maybe more of a kind of bounce that we tried to bring. Even on the slow songs. Rhythmically, it’s a really exciting album. When we got in the studio that was something we were very conscious of. I think James really has this rhythmic sense that he brings to this album and he makes sure that things have a sort of equality.
Did you feel any pressure recording the full length because there was so much attention given to the few songs that were out in advance?
I guess I’ve never been asked about this…but none of us are really aware of the attention because we’ve been so busy and we’ve been away so much. We haven’t had time to really sit down and analyze what’s been going on and what’s happening so I guess we’ve never felt any pressure at all. It’s more excitement, more anxiety, we were just desperate to make a record. We’ve been touring quite a lot and I think we all just wanted to get in that mind frame—it was really great to record outside of London and have that headspace, and be able to work until late at night and be able to sleep there and not go anywhere else. I never felt any pressure, I just wanted to hopefully make a good record, and I think that’s what we have done.
Whats your favorite song on the album, what are you dying for people to take a listen to?
There’s a song that’s got all the guitar strings tuned to one note so it hits really hard, and it’s got a kind of fusion sound to it. The whole track is built with a really plodding, weird hip-hop voice track.
Would you say in general that it is kind of a noisy record?
No, it’s got its moments. I think it’s incredibly noisy in parts it’s also incredibly kind of—golden is the only word. When I first heard it back to back it just sounded like the color gold. I don’t know if that actually means anything, it has this…the slow stuff on it is weirdly kind of frosty and shiny. And the nasty stuff is quite blatant. It’s definitely got quite a lot of sides to it, as well as hopefully having a kind of continuity as well—but it’s not overly pop.
As far as the remixes that have come out, which ones have been your favorites?
I really like the Crystal Castles remix and the Metronomy remix. James has done a remix to “Magick” and I think that’s my favorite remix so far—it’s kind of developed and elongated and kind of far off from the original, which is always exciting when that happens.
You guys toured with Crystal Castles in the UK, right?
No I think we did a show with them, they were staying with us, we became friends with them on MySpace and always talked and they came and stayed with us. Some of us lived with Neil who runs our label. He released [Crystal Castles single] “Alice Practice,” it was like the second thing he released and we were the first, so we’re all friends.
Do you guys still keep up with your MySpace, being so busy?
Yeah, we still do it ourselves. Just from day one, when someone left a message we would reply and we still haven’t replied to every one. It’s quite sad because I think it’s something we can’t continue because it takes so much time—but as long as it’s possible, we’re going to keep going. We’ve been hesitant, we’ve been asked a few times “Do you want somebody else to do it?” but we are quite reluctant to give it up.
Going back to touring, the band played Reading and Leeds this summer, correct?
Yeah we did.
How were those shows?
They were absolutely ridiculous. Reading and these places, the places where it’s like a teenager’s whirlwind every year. The tent we played in, I saw so many amazing bands growing up. It really was as good as it could get, and the shows were amazing and we had like 5000 people going wild in there. It was incredible.
Is it weird coming from an experience like that and then playing in the basement of Cake Shop in New York City?
I think we did one more UK show after Reading and then when we played in the Lower East Side, like a trendy little bar. It was kind of ramshackle, chaotic, noisy, twisty melodies and things breaking on a tiny stage and knocking each other around, which is amazing. You get so much back from that, as well as at the big shows, but it’s just a completely different experience.
In terms of stateside crowd response do you feel like people are picking up on it here the way they did in the UK?
I don’t think it’s exactly the same. I was just talking to someone in America about this. It’s kind of different, the whole culture of gigs in England and in America. I think the age thing is a factor because of the age of drinking in America. It seems like in England you have a lot of younger people that are genuinely enthusiastic and going to shows and going quite wild. The crowd in America seems a little bit older. I guess it’s because we played in bars or whatever, but yeah, people seem to be getting into it. Kind of getting into half of it, and then getting reserved and folding their arms and trying to assess whether or not they should be enjoying themselves. Playing was genuinely great though.
When you guys are out touring, I’m sure the schedule is busy, but do you find time to go out to any clubs following the gig?
Yeah we generally try to. This is the first time on the tour that we’ve been able to actually go out to the venue or walk around for a while.
Are there any songs right now that you enjoy hearing when you go out?
It’s weird because a lot of the places we’ve been at recently—when we play the actual tour gigs they’ve been playing this mix CD that James Ford made before and after the show, so it’s kind of like you’re going onstage and playing the same tracks and you’re hearing the same tracks afterwards and it’s kind of this strange constructed alienation—it makes everyone quite deluded and delirious.
Do you have any favorite club nights in London?
Trash is somewhere we would always go and we still go. It’s a great club and Erol [Alkan] is an amazing DJ. He’s done a lot for bands and he’s amazing—he’s done a lot for the crossover between indie music and dance music, he pioneered all these remixes so it’s great to go and hear indie tracks being remixed and made into things you can dance to. There’s always a great group of people there as well, and everyone is friendly. There is a night called The Do in Brighton which is a really, really good night in England. There’s a night called Live in Nottingham, which is where I spent five years of my life studying. They had major bands from England play there, so they were all really good nights.
Do you ever think about the fact that for a lot of people their first exposure to certain bands and certain songs is through a DJ’s remix, and hearing it in a club setting as opposed to on record?
Yeah, it’s interesting. I hope they are not let down by the original. I think about that quite a lot. One of the remixes of our songs has been played by a guy called Pete Tong on radio. I guess he’s like your most mainstream, commercial dance/chart-friendly dance music DJ, and he’s been playing us on his show. Which is quite weird, because we’re a million miles away from the music that he plays, but it’s kind of great that it can infiltrate those different crowds.
What remix is he playing?
He’s playing the remix of “Magick”—James Ford’s remix.
When is that single actually out?
I’m not sure in the US, it’s out in two weeks here. It’s not on the EP we’ve got out in America, so I’m not sure…hopefully soon.
When are you planning on putting out the album?
It’s going to be out in England January 30th but we actually don’t have a label out in the US yet. We’re in negotiations for signing a record deal, so we hope [the record comes out] not much longer after that, probably a couple weeks.