Hot Club De Paris

Drop It Til It Pops [Rock / Alternative]

RELEASE: 05.01.2007

LABEL: Cooperative Music

VERTRIEB: Rough Trade


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Temping is generally a great way of meeting people you'd never dream of spending time with. However, sometimes the temp can cross their fingers and toes hard and fate might deliver a colleague perfect for struggling through the summer with. In this case it happened to Paul Rafferty when he arrived for work at Chester Racecourse in July 2003. He was propping up the wrong side of the bar serving overpriced beverages to the gamblers when he overheard Matthew Smith waxing enthusiastically about legendary doom-punkers The Misfits. Realising that one another were the best of the frankly attrocious bunch, they discussed the finer details of their record collections and filled one another in on any gaps in their respective knowledge. Jealous that they had not yet met their match, the other temps looked on puzzled as Paul and Matthew spent the afternoon tossing relatively obscure band names back and forth, as they filled those bottomless jugs of Pimms and lemonade.

The rest of the summer was spent swapping the records they'd discussed that day and compiling mix-tapes for one another involving the likes of The Minutemen, Cap'n Jazz, Joan of Arc, Make Believe, Bruce Springsteen, Storm & Stress, Billy Bragg, Don Cabellero, Battles, John Fahey, Black Flag, Beastie Boys, Smog, Shellac, XTC, Talking Heads, Les Savy Fav, Karate and Owls. Though Paul and Matthew already belonged to their own bands, they figured that the Minutemen's Mike Watt's legendary motto ("Everyone should form a band") could possibly be re-interpreted as "Everybody should form another band". Paul and Matthew dutifully enlisted Matthew's little brother Alasdair into their ranks and they set about making music.

And so, in Matthew and Alasdair's parent's living room (the band have since relocated to a basement in Liverpool's city centre) Paul picked up the bass guitar for the first time, Alasdair sat eagerly behind his drum kit and Matthew strapped his prized red Fender Stratocaster to his body. The music came out all odd and pointed; laden with complex time signatures but somehow retaining a familiar pop sensibility. Their early experiments were showcased at their first gig in Liverpool's Heebies Jeebies in April 2004 and since then Hot Club de Paris have collected a small arsenal of skewif punk-pop bombs.

Hot Club de Paris' current writing process is very similar now to those early practice sessions; an initial guitar riff of Matthew's is unveiled and Paul and Alasdair spend a while jamming to it. Many of their songs begin life as instrumentals and over time the music is whittled down and battered into short two-minute pop arrangements, but with a blatant disregard for standard pop formula. The bass guitar tends to dictate the chord progression, "once I've decided what the progression is, I have a bash at writing the words" says Paul, "we'll play it together some more, struggle a little (it's often far too technical to sing over) and once we're comfortable with the song, Alasdair will begin to figure out the harmonies."

A classically trained pianist, Alasdair is behind all of Hot Club de Paris' harmonies. Many of the songs feature layered up harmony lines and it's this and their natural inclination to write and play in complex time signatures that sets them apart. “Odd time signatures are just something we’re used to" explains Matthew, " We listen to so much music that isn’t in 4/4 that it’s completely natural for us to take influence from that. We don’t ever write music just to be awkward, it’s just the way we write. People write in 4/4 because that’s what they’re used to, we’re doing exactly the same thing with what we do. “

Live, Hot Club de Paris are one of the most exhilarating bands you’re likely to see. Oodles of humour and back-chat abound, they successfully manage to marry technical musicianship with pure fun. Their barbershop-style a capellas punctuate their set to produce a form of entertainment that once witnessed, makes you wonder why everyone’s not doing it. And this is far from your ‘post-punk-art-rock-pop-band-do-harmonies’ affair, it’s so much more than that. These kids actually manage to make a room full of awkwardly shifting voyeurs dance to a 7/8 beat and sing along to their a capella musings about “fucking anything that moves”. Which, incidentally they don’t. They’re not famous enough yet.

Despite early interest from a number of major labels after their very first show, HCdP agreed to sign to Moshi Moshi Records in 2005. It was at a soundcheck for an early London show that a friend of Moshi Moshi was blown away by them and urged the label to check them out. They did, they liked what they heard and chased Matthew for demos. “Moshi were the only record label I actually sent a demo to when we recorded it. I mailed Stephen the mp3s and he said “let’s do a record”… we said… “okay”.

‘Drop It ‘Til It Pops’ is the bands’ debut album. It was recorded earlier this year over 10 bitterly cold days in Liverpool and 2 gorgeous sunny days in Henley On Thames. The Liverpool sessions were produced by Tim Speed while Adam Whittaker took the helm for the final recordings in June. ’Drop It ‘Til It Pops’ is 14 inspired songs coming in at just under 34 mins (secret track included).

Kicking off with Shipwreck, a song about local indie haunt, Le Bateau in Liverpool, you’re thrown head first into the frantic, quick paced, layered-up vocal world of Hot Club de Paris. Clockwork Toy opens with the fastest and most fiddly guitar lick on the record, which is bound to be honored in every guitar shop across the country by impressionable young Hot Clubbers as they try out new guitars. How Matthew nails all 3:13 mins of said lick live is a complete mystery to the usually gob-smacked audience. A song about a clockwork circus that has ground to a halt but is slowly coming back to life (or “a blatant and possibly poor metaphor for feeling undervalued and unfulfilled”), it was the last song they wrote for the album only a few months back and is a clear contender for a future single.

Each Hot Club de Paris song, as with most music, is a mini story. For 2 or 3 minutes at a time you are dragged into their lives and shown around their world. Whether it be a tale about meeting someone for the first time and being excited about starting a relationship with them and all that entails (Names and Names and Names), a Ouija board that warns you that your future is quite frankly, fucked (YES/NO/GOODBYE), a night out that lasts all night, having kisses, living in the big city and loving it (Hello, I wrote a song for you called ‘Welcome To The Jungle’), leaving your home town to start a new life elsewhere and the repercussions that may have on your relationships with those back home (Snitches Get Stitches), or about “staying up too late with a girl and realising it’s a bad idea to fuck them” (this is the basic sentiment behind debut single and ingeniously titled ‘sometimesitsbetternottostickbitsofeachotherineachotherforeachother’). Released on only 1000 7”s in July, it sold out immediately and turned up on ebay within days.

The flip side to ‘Sometimes…’, ‘Your Face Looks All Wrong’ also made it onto the album. A more recent song, it soon became apparent that it was much more than just a B side and like ‘Clockwork Toy’, a hint of what HCdP had to offer musically in the future.

Other notable tracks on ‘Drop It ‘Til It Pops’ are of course the a capellas; ‘Bonded By Blood (A Song For Two Brothers)’, written by Paul for Matthew and Alasdair, “It's about the upbringing we all had in common. We're good kids and our parents should be proud. There are other things in everyone's life however, that parents really shouldn't find out about. Therefore, it was probably a stupid idea to write a song about it then put it on album that all our parents will buy. I'm such a dick sometimes.” The second a capella is ‘Welcome, Welcome To The Hot Club de Paris’ – track 0 on the album – (you need to rewind from track 1 to find it). Paul explains: “It's a manifesto. A statement to suggest that a band can be anything it wants to be. It's pretty ridiculous.”
‘3:55am; I Think We Should Go Home‘, ‘Who Am I? (What's my Name?)‘, 'Welcome to the Hop‘ and album closer ‘Everyeveryeverything’ complete ‘Drop It ‘Til It Pops’. The latter looks set to be the second single from the album, "It’s about meeting someone new and not being able to figure out how life got so good."

So this is where it all begins, a debut album that if they had infinite time and money to record, they don’t reckon they’d ever have finished, so luckily for us time and money restraints kinda worked in their favour. It suffers little for being the first recordings they’ve ever laid down and for that, the band are more than happy with their achievements. “It’s quite satisfying to make a bunch of noises, put them together and come out with music that didn’t exist before you put it on a tape.“ says Matthew.
So what next for the Hot Club de Paris? Having already played shows with The Maccabees, The Mystery Jets, Tapes N Tapes, Mates Of State, We are Scientists, Test Icicles, Arctic Monkeys, Battles and Milburn, there’s a more touring in the pipeline for this year: e.g. Maximo Park in October and Dirty Pretty Things in December.

As for their expectations of the impact they may have as Hot Club de Paris, Paul says, “Ideally, it'd be good if younger kids got into us and found out about interesting bands and experimental records like the ones that influenced us. Imagine if they then went on to form bands on their own... That way, we wouldn't have to spend the rest of our career as the wild card.” For Matthew its about having ’a nice time all of the time’ but with a wish for some rightly deserved accolades, “It’d be nice if people noticed that we try hard at what we do, to play well, arrange well and make things interesting. I think we're so lucky to be able to have done this job for a year that I don’t really consider it to be success or failure. As far as I’m concerned, this is a pretty successful accident that we never intended to happen.”

(Quelle: PR | Cooperative Music)


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