Hercules & Love Affair - Andy Butler interview
Andy Butler on new album Blue Songs ahead of their gig at Death Disco
Andy Butler is feeling tired and emotional, and he’s blaming his airline for it. ‘I think BA played a trick on us and didn’t turn out the cabin lights the whole transatlantic flight. “No, we just turned them on because we’re serving food,” said the stewardess. Blah blah blah.’ When The List speaks to him he’s only just arrived in his Madrid hotel ahead of a bunch of European dates, and he sounds dog tired already. Yet sleep will only come after he’s spoken to us and dined out with the band and their entourage, because his excellent second album Blue Songs demands promotion.
‘We’re an international band,’ explains the New York-based group’s Denver-bred founder. ‘Aerea Negrot lives in Berlin, she makes techno music on her own with [Ellen Allien’s] BPitch Control Records. Shaun Wright is from Chicago, he brings a house influence and he’s an R&B singer. Mark Pistel’s an amazing change, just because I’m a huge fan of Meat Beat Manifesto and Consolidated.’ The line-up’s rounded out by long-time H&LA singer Kim Ann Foxman, with an array of guest singers past and present on record.
‘You know, I think Kele was in Glasgow last week,’ says Butler of his friend and sometime Bloc Party singer Kele Okereke, who guests on the new album’s ‘Step Up’ (have a listen below). ‘I don’t know why he was there, I think it was for a DJ gig but it could have been romance, who knows?’ How did they come to work together? ‘He was tired of London and he wanted a change, so he decided to move to Manhattan. I told him I’d help him find a place, and while he was staying in a hotel and looking, we’d go for lunch and write the song. It took about three days, and he got a really nice place in Chelsea in the end.’
Butler’s also still close to Antony Hegarty of Antony & the Johnsons fame, with whom he wrote the irresistible club hit ‘Blind’ from H&LA’s eponymous 2008 debut album. ‘Yeah, I spoke to him last night and he’s homebound with an ear infection,’ he says. ‘For him that’s like a Greek tragedy, a curse from the gods.’ Did Butler feel pressure to follow up ‘Blind’ when he came to write the new tracks? ‘Well my honest answer is I’m never going to write ‘Blind’ number fucking two, so don’t hold your breath. That was written in a really special moment between Antony and I, when I had an affinity for a certain sort of disco. Maybe the new record needs a catchy tune, but it would just sound shit if I tried to write the same song again. I meant to ask, do you like the album?’
The List approves intensely of Blue Songs and its utterly authentic mix of NY disco, classic house and retro techno. ‘Well, that’s sweet of you to say. There was a time after it I thought, I don’t wanna hear that record, then a little later I was overwhelmed by the strength of the collaborations on it. I feel that when we come off stage too. Proud of this band and impressed by them all at once.’ It’s a wearying life in H&LA, it seems, but the rewards are worth it in the end.
Hercules & Love Affair play Death Disco at the Arches, Glasgow, Sat 19 Mar.