Here is an interview I did with the band Rattatat for the Viceland.com Blog.
Rattatat are these two guys from New York called Evan and Mike who play laptop programmed music with millions of layers of guitars and synths. It sounds like sleazy, robotic, oompah chamber music that’s equal parts Queen and Edwin Collins and makes all the girls go weak at the knees. Especially Kelly Osbourne apparently. If you took it all apart and got real human beings to play their music it would be like one of those Glenn Branca or Rhys Chatham shows with 87 people playing guitars. They used to hang out with people like Paul Banks in New York who got them a support slot on an Interpol tour before they’d even released a record and their new album is modestly entitled ‘Classics’. They also have a bootleg album just out of Hip Hop remixes of tracks by guys like Young Jeezy and Devin Tha Dude. But don’t tell anyone.
You guys look a little the worse for wear if you don’t mind me saying?
Evan: Sorry. We played a show at The Astoria last night. It got a little crazy.
Mike: Yeah we played with CSS and then they took us to this place The End. Durr or something? I don’t know.
Evan: Can you tell these UK promoters to stop giving us Jack Daniels on our rider, that stuff isn’t even whiskey. Its just headache in a bottle. Ugh.
So you’ve gone from playing guitar with Ben Kweller and Dashboard Confessional to making sexy studmuffin albums of your own and remixing Biggie and Young Jeezy. How did that happen?
Mike: The job with Dashboard was just me and it was just that: a job. I was playing in a band on tour with them and they needed a piano player so I took the gig. I did one studio session then Ben poached me. That was more fun but this is what I wanted to do. As soon as we had the opportunity we did this. We met at college and we have been making music together since then.
Evan: The hip hop thing was just something we wanted to do. As well as Queen and this band White Light I really love Timbaland, His production is a real inspiration. The remix thing is just a logical progression of what we do I think. Labels have begun to come to us. We did a remix for the Television Personalities, that was interesting cos I wasn’t too familiar with them apart from like ‘Part Time Punks’. We also did a remix of a track by The Knife. That was weird.
Mike: Yeah the girl sent us this super specific e-mail where she was like: “I want it to sound like this one specific Prince track” and spelled out in the e-mail duh duh duh duh duh duh duh. You know? Like how she wanted it to sound. Weird.
Evan: We heard back from Beanie Siegel and Devin saying that they’d heard the remixes and were into it. That’s nice.
Your music seems highly programmed. Is it not just a case of standing onstage and pressing buttons?
Mike: No not at all. It would be unfeasible to play it all live though. We have a guy called Jacob who plays live keys with us now. And we do live guitars. Lead guitar and lead bass. Haha. Live is always exciting, we’re not jamming out or anything but the live stuff can influences the studio stuff subsequently.
Evan: Yeah, I wanna make more aggressive stuff now. We could maybe do it live as a special one off show in New York or something that would be cool. We have video projections we use too.
Would you cry if your laptop got stolen?
Evan: That would be the worst. We’d probably have to give up music.
Is there anyone out there ripping on the Rattatat sound, any fellow travellers?
Mike: Not really, some people have ripped off our logo font though.
Why call the record ‘Classics’?
Evan: It just sounds funny.
Who is the average Rattatat fan?
Evan: Her (points at elderly lady sipping tea in the ICA café).
Mike: Seems to be a lot of stoner kids in the US.
You seem to always be on the road, do you hate each others guts by this point?
Mike: Nah, we have fun on tour.
Evan: I did get shot in the eye with a pellet gun in Amsterdam. Maybe that was the culmination of tension.
Who would you play with if you could play with anyone?
Evan: A total Hollywood band: Stevan Segal, Russel Crow, Kaenu Reeves.
Mike: And Brian May.