Klaxons Interview – The Chemical Brothers, Benicassim and the new album
“A melodic, slightly wonky, Indie band.”
We had a lovely chat to Simon Taylor-Davis, guitarist from Klaxons, ahead of their date at Concorde 2 on the 30th October.
How did the band form? Where did you meet each other?
It almost seems so long ago that I can’t remember! Myself and Jamie met through a mutual friend when we were at University but Jamie kind of recruited myself and James. I knew them both so I guess I was the link that put those two together. Jamie was looking for people to go on this wild goose chase with this great idea of a rave act he had and we just happened to be in the right place at the right time, I said that I knew a fantastic keyboard player / musician and that was kind of it. We all ended up in New Cross together circa 2005 and we were open to the idea of anything, looking back on it it’s really nice when you have those opportunities in life where you’re very susceptible to great things happening or to being around people who can inspire you, it was a very open and creative time and the majority of the bands first record we wrote in a week or so there in New Cross. The great thing was we knew what we were going to do before we did it, we decided we were going to be a rave act with guitars and have rave songs. A lot of times when you make music, eliminating what you don’t wanna do makes the process of creation a lot easier so we knew that we didn’t want to stand around and make post-punk music, we wanted upbeat melodic rave music. It was like a formula was put in place before we started playing.
Have you always played guitar? Did you ever think you’d get to do it as a career and now you do how does it feel?
It’s been on my mind quite a lot recently. I played guitar sporadically before the group but I definitely lied to them and said I could play the guitar and I couldn’t play at all! Jamie and James were both very competent musicians but I was awful! I distinctively remember being on Jools Holland and asking what the chord D was because they were doing a jam in D. I am really trying to learn now. I’ve got friends that I know who’ve played the guitar since they were about 4 or 5, who noodled away on their scales but I think it’s interesting to approach an instrument in a different way and trying to make something that excites you out of it. For me, i’d always disguise my playing with effects pedals and distortion or these little boxes you can get, it was like a clown putting on make-up, as in I was trying to disguise the fact I couldn’t play with all these noises and stuff. For me the whole process was the wrong way round, I tried to learn to ‘play’ afterwards. Did I ever think i’d be doing it for a living? No. I still pinch myself everyday thinking i’m fortunate enough to be able to play the guitar for a career, it’s fantastic and it’s really fun! Because i’m clueless at playing it means i’m still learning so it’s still exciting. I’m always watching Youtube tutorials of how to play, I love watching these kids in the middle of nowhere shredding away!
How would you describe your sound to someone who had never heard you?
A melodic, slightly wonky, Indie band trying to be a pop act. Strange old men trying to be in a boy band! Or maybe young adults trying to be in a boy band…
Your new album ‘Love Frequency’ which came out back in June, has been described as a return to your dance roots, why did you do this return and why did you move away from this for your second album?
We were very fortunate on the first record, we were able to cross over and play a lot of the dance festivals and people kind of thought we were a dance act, certainly the rave aspect of the music gave that impression. In reality there were no electronics at all, there was a keyboard, a live drummer, a guitarist and a bass player and the whole thing was written and recorded like that. I think in a lot of peoples perceptions we were a dance group. Part of that was because James Ford, who was the Producer on the first record, he bought this polished pop aspect out of the production. When it came to the second record we worked with a rock producer Ross Robinson who was a real hero of ours and made a lot of very hard rock records like Slipknot, At the Drive-In and Limp Bizkit. Ross just captured more of that element so it was more of an all out rock record so I think that confused a lot of people. For us for the third record we thought we’d just make it as a full blown dance, although we still play live with guitars and drums and keyboards, the production this time was very much shaped by the Chemical Brothers and Erol Alkan and people that were in the dance world.
As you’ve mentioned, you worked with Tom Rowlands from The Chemical Brothers and Erol Alkan among others on the new album. Why this collaborative approach and how did it come about? Will you do that again for your next album?
We’ve been very fortunate that we’ve just happened to know someone or they’ve approached us and The Chemical Brothers was very much case of that. James and Jamie had sung on a track on The Chemical Brothers record so it was just a case of calling them up and asking if they’d be interested in and Tom said yes! He was incredible, he’s a genuine hero of all of ours, for me growing up, the Chemical Brothers was an example of a dance act being a rock band, they were phenomenal! Would we do it again? I don’t know, it was a very bitty affair, we would work for a few days and then re-approach something a month later it was a real collage of peoples time but it was an incredible experience and the knowledge we got from it in regards to electronics and working with people and production was incredible. Alternatively there’s an excitement that comes with being instinctive and working fast and I think that maybe on this record not working fast made the whole process a bit slower. I think there’s a real excitement knowing that you’re going to record an album in 2 weeks time it needs to be finished, the urgency creates a great momentum and a great excitement. This record was a really great learning curve and i’d love to do it again but i’d also love to make something really fast again.
Is there any one performance in your career that stands out for you?
Certainly this year, it was Reading and Leeds for me. It was just one of those things where, our first ever festival experience was playing there and it was incredible to go back there. We played the little dance tent which was great which means we’ve played all the tents there apart from the main stage. I think for the crowd and for the actual show though it would have to be Benicassim, that was the other favourite show this Summer, it was just a huge crowd and it was totally wild and we played before Tinie Tempa, it was a really fun show.
Is there another album in the pipeline? Or what’s next for the band?
We’re rehearsing at the moment and then we’re on tour all throughout October in the UK and Europe and then a bit of time off over Christmas then we’re off to Japan and Mexico. There’s touring planned up until February so far and then some more dates to be confirmed so hopefully we’ll be touring next Summer but we’ll just have to wait and see.