Speaking over Skype from their house in Liverpool, England Chinatown Slalom only balk at one question: "Do you think of yourselves as a guitar band?" Absolutely not, says Liam Nolan, who can be heard rapping over the aqueous beat of new single "Where U At?" a highlight from their recently-released debut Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?. "We don't want to identify with any genre."
There are plenty of indie bands keen to talk up their diverse influences and ambitious plans while barely straying from the same three chords as their predecessors. Chinatown Slalom are not like that. Having met at music school LIPA , the band (rounded out by Jake Brettell, guitarist Mikey Woods, and multi-instrumentalist Ricky Crawford) found studying music to be a "vibe kill" and that holing themselves away and actually making music was much more rewarding. The result is Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?, an Avalanches-esque explosion of ideas, the sound of four teenagers egging one another on and asking, 'Why not?'
This colorful and experimental approach to pop is evident on "Where U At?", the video for which is premiering above. A sight gag at the start of the video suggests it cost £7 ($8.50) to make and, well, you'd believe it. Filmed in the band's shared house, where they also throw warehouse-esque raves, the video shows a self-contained world filled with bacon beds, tabloid newspapers, and people dancing out of cereal boxes. You might not quite understand it, but you want to be a part of regardless.
Check out the video above and read on for an interview with Chinatown Slalom.
What is "Where U At?" about?
Liam: "We wanted to make a song that sounded like a barbershop quartet and that riff, and the rap, just came out at once. It's a very bragadocious song that sums up what it feels like to be young. Like, 'Come on then. Where are you?' It's pretty much improvised and definitely one of our most playful songs."
And what is the idea behind the video?
Liam: "It's a play on The Borrowers ['90s movie about a four-inch-tall family]. The theme is hidden and revealed as we're being chased around our house by these tiny little men."
Mikey: "We also just wanted to get in front of a green screen and act like weirdos."
Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? has been out for a few weeks now. How are you finding the reaction to it?
Jake: "It's really nice having people tell us they like it. We've had interest in the music industry prior to this but all of that hype is imaginary. There's also very little expectation for the album as we've come out of nowhere. It's not overwhelming at this point."
So what were your expectations when you started making the album?
Jake: "We were doing it for a laugh for a long time and then, around the half-way mark, we had to ask ourselves, 'Is this genius or is it shit?'"
Liam: "We had so many songs in so many genres and they were all really far out. We did wonder if people would actually get it. We didn't really hang out with many other people at the time. We just hid ourselves away."
You sample Jai Paul's "Str8 Outta Mumbai" on the album's title track. Have you had any feedback from him at all?
Liam: "We actually just recently met him at a BBQ in London. We got to finally say thank you. We were out of our depth a little bit, I think. We spent a while trying to work out who he was but then he just approached us like, 'Alright, I'm Jai Paul.' He was very nice and didn't take him seriously at all. The only people he's ever allowed to sample his music before are Beyonce and Drake."