Rock and Roll Roleplay
Published August 18, 2010
It’s rare to find a summer electro-dance album smart enough to last into the autumn, but we think we’ve managed to snag one: Clubfeet‘s Gold on Gold, which has drawn comparisons to Hot Chip, the Teenagers, and Junior Boys. (We privately think of a couple of the songs, like “Six Days” and “D.I.E. Yuppie Scum,” as what might have happened if the Postal Service developed an absurdist sense of humor.)
Clubfeet–our favorite band name pun of the year–is a three-piece outfit from Melbourne and Capetown. All the boys go by weirdly WASPy pseudonyms: Monty Cooper, Yves Roberts, and Sebastian Cohen; and according to their MySpace, some of their interests include “grey goose vodka, solariums, ven diagrams, online love calculators, foie gras, broken social scene, helmut newton, all kinds of ‘yacht rock’, erlend oye, douglas coupland, the radio dept, hedi slimane.” That’s about all you need to know.
Cooper’s role in the band is listed as “singing, synthesizers, handclaps, chief smoke-machine operator,” and he is prone to writing blog entries like the following. “We are all finally back in Australia after spending our summers swanning on beaches wearing mico-kinis… Just to be sure we retain our lithe frames and razor sharp cheekbones Yves has put us on a new diet he invented–it consists of alternating days of laxatives, menthol cigarettes and evian with days of bellinis and cocktail olives. Our doctors say that once we’ve finished with the diet we should be able to drive a car again and maybe even walk without the help of a frame! hurrah! Pass those olives Yves!” We weren’t sure what we were in for when we scheduled a chat, especially considering Cooper was halfway around the world.
ALEXANDRIA SYMONDS: It’s so weird that you’re talking to me early in the morning and I’m talking to you during happy hour. How is tomorrow?
COOPER: Oh, you’ve got no idea. These are my first words of the day!
SYMONDS: Really? You just woke up?
SYMONDS: Well, we’ll try to keep them easy at the beginning, then.
COOPER: Yeah, I just came back from a four-day musical festival called Splendor in the Grass, where I spent four days drunk and high. And it was like 25 degrees Celsius and I’d been wearing shorts, and now I’m in Melbourne and it’s about three degrees. It’s fucking brutal!
SYMONDS: Ooh, I’m sorry! That’s a shame. So can you just briefly sketch out the history of your band? How you got together, and all that stuff?
COOPER: Yeah, sure. Well, we’re all friends…We were always talking about doing something that was fun and all this, and we didn’t think about too much…We kind of really just approached it to have fun, we’re not very driven! [Laughs] I think we’re all glad to spend more time together.
SYMONDS: How does a song typically come about for you? Do you have a really collaborative process, or does one of you write the melody and someone else writes the lyrics and it’s more segmented?
COOPER: It totally depends, it totally depends. I mean, everyone’s playing and everybody’s singing. Some songs sometimes start being written by one member and then everyone else comes in and puts their stamp on it. And then sometimes we’ll sit down together and start to drink and start laughing at something, or we’ll just watch a film…or we’ll have an idea like that, and we’ll sit down and do it together from scratch.
SYMONDS: You guys do a lot of remixing, right? How do you decide that you want to do a remix of something?
COOPER: Well, most of the time we get approached. And then it’s a question of, if someone approaches you, do you like them? Sometimes you just love the song and you can’t wait to get your hands on the mix and pull it out. But sometimes you like the people… and sometimes you try out stuff that you haven’t [done before]…We’ll write songs for months, and then sometimes there’ll be months where we haven’t really sat down and done much because we’ve been busy doing other stuff, so it’s kind of nice to just pull out the keyboards and start playing around with songs. It’s always really interesting the things you get out of a new experiment with other people’s work… You don’t have any baggage.
SYMONDS: Are you comfortable talking about the fact that you guys use pseudonyms, or is that something you’d rather not discuss?
COOPER: I’m up for it! In some respects, we’re a fantasy band anyway… I think we just wanted to, I guess, be freed up…We kind of play with it ourselves, and our friends do our videos, and our friends [do our] artwork. It’s kind of nice.
SYMONDS: Do you think of yourselves as playing characters? Is it that complex, or is it just names you throw around for fun?
COOPER: No, it’s not, like, rock and roll roleplay!
SYMONDS: So you mentioned this–you guys are really artistically collaborative; you have a friend who directs your music videos and a friend who does your art.
COOPER: Yeah, our friend GODHARD [Alex Goddard] does the videos, and he’s in the process of making short films but I think we’re going to do another one. It’s all, we’re all really good friends and all willing to support each other. We don’t do it really to be famous, we just do it because we enjoy it.
SYMONDS: Yeah, that’s cool. It kind of sounds like you’re living the dream!
COOPER: [Laughs] I was living the dream, yesterday.
SYMONDS: Maybe if you get a chance to take a nap today. I feel bad that I woke you up so early!
COOPER: [Laughs] It’s cool! I had to get up!
SYMONDS: So one thing we music journalists love to do is to compare something we hear to something we’ve already heard.
COOPER: Yeah, totally.
SYMONDS: I was just wondering if you guys have read or heard any comparisons about yourself that you didn’t find flattering, or didn’t agree with?
COOPER: We had a really funny review in Time Out New York, which said that our song “Say Something” was too close a reference to OMD’s “If You Leave.” So they were basically accusing of writing “Say Something” and plagiarizing “If You Leave.”
SYMONDS: Oh, my God!
COOPER: We found that pretty funny.
SYMONDS: I have kind of a silly question: you have a single called “D.I.E. Yuppie Scum,” obviously, and you also have a single called “Teenage Suicide (Don’t Do It).” And they’re both great, but I’m wondering what your advice to teenage yuppies would be.
COOPER: [Laughs] Well, I think it’s fine if they’re… I mean, there’s nothing wrong with staying angry, as a group, at them.
SYMONDS: I’m impressed by how readily you came up with that answer!
COOPER: [Laughs] That’s what I think about before I go to bed at night!