Photos of Hot Chip by Steve Gullick
Why Make Sense? is not only the title of Hot Chip’s new record, it also acts as a motto the band likes to describe themselves with.
After 15 years of making music, Hot Chip has built up the reputation of combining things that might not be meant to exist together and somehow making it work. That is certainly the case for their sixth record as frontman Alexis Taylor believes this album is another creative turn in the path Hot Chip has built for themselves.
“It’s been there from the beginning, following our own path,” Taylor says. “Putting things together that shouldn’t necessarily be put together. That felt like a natural phrase that sums up the band and the record. That is what we try and do in our lives, make sense of things. It’s not a grand point. Sometimes there is solace when the world refuses to make sense.”
For Hot Chip, it all starts with a song. It has been three years since the band has released a record, but the band members have remained active with successful side projects and solo ventures. However, all it takes is one song to get the momentum shifting, bringing everyone back together again.
"We have had conversations over the years wondering if an album is still really a relevant art form."
Taylor recalls working on the beginning parts of “Love Is The Future” before passing the work off to Joe Goodard, who eventually finished the track. After that, the wheels started moving and one song became two, which eventually became the rest of the album.
“We enjoy getting together,” the singer explains. “We’ve all been off doing our own things, but we are really excited to be doing Hot Chip now and seeing each other. We are very productive anyways. We are always [making] new beginnings of songs. It’s just whether or not those songs are put forth for Hot Chip or not. I’m just glad it hasn’t gone wrong yet. We just keep making songs. It’s never, ‘What is the vision for the next album?’ It just starts with a song and grows from that.”
Hot Chip has become known as technical geniuses, mad scientists capable of displaying emotions and feelings through crisp synth beats and deep basslines. Their catalog of music represents just about every genre in music while Why Make Sense? falls slightly more on the R&B side of music. Taylor says that was a conscious effort, noting it was more of what the band was interested in sonically at the time, crediting artists like D’Angelo as inspiration for some of the songs.
“Personally, I’m glad [he’s back] because I’ve always loved [his] music,” says Taylor. “Sometimes I tire of every song having a 121 BPM and sometimes in Hot Chip that can become the model that works. You are just doing it all the time [and] I question if there is a need for it all to be 4-4 timing.”
Make no mistake, those grand, electronic anthems are fully present on the album. Songs like “Huarache Lights” and “Cry For You” certainly fit the standard Hot Chip mold, but soul and R&B remain the umbrella for the entire record.
One thing Taylor is not concerned about is creating a hit single. In the age where songs are becoming more important than records, the musician hasn’t really been worried about chart-topping success. While that is certainly a nice accomplishment—and Hot Chip has achieved success like that—it is never the goal.
“The music still seems to reach people and the live shows don’t seem to be getting smaller,” Taylor observes of the band’s current stature. “I’m not sure we have changed what we are trying to do really. We have had conversations over the years wondering if an album is still really a relevant art form. But as long as it is relevant to us, we keep making them.”
Taylor says the band still loves making music, which is the driving force to keep going back into the studio after 15 years. He remains thankful that Hot Chip still loves to make songs and plans to keep doing it. The inspiration “comes from life experiences and thinking about things and wanting that to come out in music instead of conversation,” he says.
He admits he has no idea what the future holds for Hot Chip. But the band will spend much of the next few months on tour, which will consist of festivals and bigger venues. After that? “I feel like we want to carry on doing the same thing that we started the band for, which was making albums,” Taylor says. “That was the ambition … We hadn’t thought about live shows or audiences. I see us making records.”