Shock of the new
As the godfathers of new rave, Klaxons have helped redefine an era with their heady mix of electro arthouse punk. Henry Northmore talks to guitarist Simon Taylor-Davis about the band’s brave new world
The List It’s been the buzzword in the music press for the last year. But what does the term ‘new rave’ mean to you?
Simon Taylor-Davis I don’t really think the term new rave has anything to do with the actual music: it’s terminology for an attitude. Jamie [Reynolds, vocals/bass/keyboards] invented it as a joke because there was this resurgence of new wave and he said: ‘we’ll call it new rave then’. It’s quite funny looking back and seeing that Klaxons invented this new term that is now bandied around all over the world.
TL Even though you invented the term are you worried about being so closely associated with a particular scene?
STD It’s not something that’s bothering us at all. We’re completely aware of it. We’re not stupid; everything about us is about change, it always has been. We’re constantly evolving. We already started work in January on the next record, before our current record was even out. It’s all about change and confusion. And doing things people won’t expect.
I’m a big, big, big believer that you shouldn’t go bandying stuff around; you can’t call something a movement when it’s going on. Terminology is used on reflection; it’s like on adverts you hear: ‘The classic debut album!’ How can you call someone’s album a classic when it’s not even out? It’s just funny. I don’t think I’ve heard any phrase so many times in my lifetime as I’ve heard ‘new rave’ this year. I’ve literally heard it perhaps ten times a day every day.
TL It seems your fans have really grabbed hold of the concept and run with it.
STD It’s something I still haven’t really begun to grasp. I don’t have a clear idea of what’s going on because we’re dressed in black and then, a few metres away from you, there are people in fluorescent clothes; you’re making this weird pop music and they’re dancing like it’s a warehouse rave. It’s really abstract ideas all put together – it’s definitely something – I’m not sure what it is but it’s definitely something.
TL Your music is very much informed by literature and futuristic concepts.
STD We didn’t want to make a record that was in any way related to time and space in the sense of now – we wanted to make something that was timeless. I’m not sure if that’s an arrogant thing to say and I don’t know if we have but we just didn’t want to talk about girls and boys meeting each other in the street, as there are already a load of great songs about that. It wasn’t something we thought we could do well. We didn’t want to be an ‘English band’; we didn’t want to be seen as a band located in a place. It seemed relevant to write about sci-fi because it was what we were interested in. It was all about making something that didn’t exist; this weird fantasy record. We had all these fragments and then we sat in the studio and listened to the album from start to finish and it made complete sense.
TL Klaxons already enjoyed a fantastic live reputation before you achieved success with the album. Did you enjoy the experience of recording Myths of the Near Future?
STD I think the record is really removed from the live shows. We wanted to make a really glossy white-boy R&B record. Everything’s really smooth and slick, clean and shiny and I kind of see it as a polar extreme of the way you can go with some tunes. You have this blueprint, which is the record, and then anything which you play live has a relation to that but it’s in no way trying to replicate it.
TL It’s a pretty intense live show. How do you keep the energy levels up?
STD Dr Pepper [laughs]. I’m really obsessed with it. I just think we’re all quite excitable people and I think we’re not afraid of looking like idiots. We just go out there and give it big balls and look like we know what we’re doing. That’s the big, big secret.
TL Which aspect do you prefer: the live shows or the recording process?
STD I don’t know. They seem to me like two completely different things. I think the recording process is really rhythmical and definitely has an energy from start to finish. But you can’t beat touring – these incredible places we’ve seen. It sounds kind of clichéd but you’re seeing these places you’ve literally dreamed of going to but never thought you’d have the money.
TL How have things been in the Klaxons camp while touring the world?
STD We hate each other now. We have fist fights at airports [laughs]. Seriously, though, we were laughing about it last night, it’s funny how you can be on tour together for six weeks and the last thing you want to do is hang around with each other and then you get off the plane and we all go out together. The workload’s been beyond ridiculous and everyone has limits so you have to become incredibly conscious of each other’s moods. It’s really intense but it’s cool.
TL Do you think the dance indie divide really exists?
STD I grew up listening to the Ministry of Sound box-set and Britpop. There’s this really false picture that these two things never came into contact with each other and it’s funny that the likes of NME are trying to create this ‘war’ between rockers and ravers.
TL Finally, what’s next for Klaxons?
STD Hopefully making another great record. I just love that you’ve implanted an idea in someone’s head – the fact that they’re going to leave their house to buy a piece of music you’ve written – it’s just bizarre, it’s almost like brainwashing.
Klaxons, Corn Exchange, Edinburgh, Tue 27 Nov.