Ahead of back-to-back sold-out shows at 9:30 Club and The Atlantis, band member Owen Clarke discusses their latest album, “Freakout/Release.”
When London electronic dance band Hot Chip released their eighth studio album “Freakout/Release” last August, the word melancholy was bandied about by multiple critics to describe their latest outing.
There could be a variety of reasons for the more pensive tone. In addition to the album being recorded during pandemic lockdown, the band also had to deal with the loss of producer Phillip Zdar — who they had collaborated with on the previous album “A Bath Full of Ecstasy” — from an accidental fall in Paris, and touring member and collaborator Rob Smoughton critically ill with a heart issue at the end of their March 2020 tour.
“I think there’s a lot of that there,” admits Owen Clarke, who has been a multi-instrumentalist with Hot Chip since 2004. “I was thinking about it this morning, actually. It’s quite a reflective record about reconnecting with people. It’s that aspect of the pandemic, I suppose. It’s about reconnection with people and obviously with us getting together after a period of enforced not being together. We were still processing everything that had gone on with Rob being unwell and various stuff at home. It’s not the darkest record we’ve done. I think all the records we’ve done have sort of toed the line between joy and introspection. I think this is the one that went to the more introspective side.”
Speaking with District Fray before Hot Chip’s show at First Avenue in Minneapolis — Clarke notes, “I’m looking at a sign that is a giant star with “Purple Rain” written on it” — the setting seems appropriate given Hot Chip’s affinity for ’80s R&B dance songs. Case in point: the vocoder voice at the start of the song “Freakout/Release” bears a striking resemblance to the beginning of Midnight Star’s “Freak-A-Zoid.”
“I suppose that’s to do with the idea of connecting with people as well,” Clarke says. “Disconnected voices and things being processed or going through filters. I think those connections with that sort of boogie, electro, really funky groovy sort of electronic records from the ’80s, they’re the ones that we find are the fun, party-starter records and also quite interesting in terms of the production as well.”
Those lucky enough to have a ticket to Hot Chip’s sold-out shows at 9:30 Club on June 1 or The Atlantis on June 2, shouldn’t expect a regurgitation of the current record as the band will delve into their 20+ year musical catalog.
“If you are familiar with the record the songs are quite different when we play them live,” Clarke says. “In terms of track selection, it’s across the whole catalog. It’s a good mix and it’s a fun night out and we’re really enjoying doing the shows.”
Hot Chip will play 9:30 Club Thursday, June 1 at 7 p.m and The Atlantis Friday, June 2 at 7 p.m. Sold out. For verified resale tickets, click here. To learn more about Hot Chip and their music, follow them online at hot-chip.co.uk and on Instagram @hot.chip.
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