Hot Chip is returning to the United States for a string of dates in support of "In Our Heads," the well-received album the band released in June of last year.
The English indie-electro quintet will start their American journey at the Ultra Music Festival, the Coachella of dance music (later, in April, they'll also perform at Coachella itself). But though they're seeing quite a few bookings at dance festivals, Hot Chip's Alexis Taylor tells The Huffington Post the band isn't too concerned about the fist-pumping audience.
"I think people know what to expect when they come to see Hot Chip," he said in a phone interview from the band's rehearsal space in London. "So we still get booked, but we may seem a bit more like a live band by comparison, whereas a few years back we were just doing our own thing and some other bands were doing something similar."
Taylor, who is the group's vocalist and shares writing duties with co-leader Joe Goddard, is no stranger to the dance world. Plenty of Hot Chip tracks are built on the blueprints of house ("Ends of the Earth," for one), and the group has toured extensively with Diplo, who they tapped to produce a particularly effective Major Lazer remix of "Look at Where We Are." But while some of today's mainstream dance acts stumble with overproduced tracks that bludgeon the listener into a club-ready stupor, Hot Chip has made a name for itself by serving up a spare, nimble sort of soul-dance-pop-indie-R&B hybrid.
A sense of space permeates the group's catalogue, though Taylor says he still feels there's room for improvement in that regard as well. "If the idea is good, [the song] can be very empty," he said. "At times, it's nice if something is left to have breathing space, at times it's nice if the words are as transparent as possible, so that the emotion can be felt through what you're singing and playing ... maybe we got better at being a bit less dense."
The results have been consistently well-received; the last four Hot Chip albums currently sit at 79, 79, 78 and 79 on the review-aggregating site Metacritic, respectively. When pressed on whether or not he considers reviews relevant, Taylor admitted he's pleased but not satisfied. "I would be lying if I said I've never read reviews," he said. "But I think that we try to make each record stand up on its own merit. And I find it funny when reviewers critique the latest album and they revise what they said about the previous one. Sometimes they say, 'The last record was a bit inconsistent, but this time they've done it,' but really that's what they said the last time too. There seems like there's an inconsistency in journalists' memories but there is a consistency in that no one says [Hot Chip albums are] outstanding, but they do tend to say, 'Well done, could be better,' in a four-star kind of way."
Ratings aside, it's clear the band has shaken one of the tired descriptors that plagued them throughout their first few album cycles. Hot Chip used to be known as the "nerdy" or "geeky" band, a dubious distinction Taylor seems glad to have shaken off, if only to have taken on a new false pretense.
"I've heard so much about the last record being entirely positive and joyous," he said, "and really, you only have to listen to the lyrics in most of the songs to see that there's not a straightforward celebration of everything being right in the world or in one's world. There just isn't -- there's quite a lot of conflict and quite a lot of singing about making things work and trying to resolve things."
Taylor -- who agreed there's a "herd mentality" in today's press but has never used Twitter and remains "very ignorant" on that front -- says the "joyful" tag was pinned on "In Our Heads" in press materials for the project, and imagines many reviewers "regurgitated" that message without "engaging with the music." "So the whole mood of the reviews is dictated by someone, somewhere, saying that this is a joyous record. But songs like 'Look at Where We Are,' 'Ends of the Earth,' 'Don't Deny Your Heart' -- they all have quite a bit of urgency."
Regardless, the band seems chipper about heading out across America, or, as Taylor calls it, "one of the best places for us to play." Big, double-weekend gigs at Ultra and Coachella have the group revisiting "the proverbial Hot Chip crates" to dust off gems they haven't played in years.
"We're just at the point where it's beginning to take shape," Taylor said. "But it should feel very new to everyone."
Hot Chip U.S. Tour Dates
3/23 - Miami, FL - Ultra Music Festival
3/25 - New Orleans, LA - House of Blues
4/09 - New York, NY - Roseland Ballroom
4/10 - Washington D.C. - 9.30 Club
4/13 - Indio, CA - Coachella
4/18 - Las Vegas, NV - Cosmopolitan Pool
4/20 - Indio, CA - Coachella