Hot Club de Paris
Brothers Matthew and Alasdair Smith collided with Paul Rafferty sometime during the middle of 2003 whilst otherwise busy working shitty temp jobs and dicking about in a number of local bands. They traded mix-tapes, played stake-raising games of record swapping (featuring bands like Owls, Storm&Stress, Pavement, Don Caballero, Joan of Arc, Les Savy Fav, Minutemen, Black Flag, XTC and Talking Heads etc) and found that their musical thoughts seemed be headed in similar directions. By the time the autumn was upon them, they’d already formed a band called Hot Club de Paris (named after a well known bargain-bucket/service station Jazz CD compiled from the music of Django Rheindhart and Stefan Grapelli) and had set about writing their first set in a cold, damp room they had discovered sitting unused at the bottom of a rickety old warehouse. Their songs were finally unveiled in their hometown of Liverpool in April 2004. Early performances poked fun at the performances of the local bands they’d grown bored of watching and their approach gently mocked the usual po-faced execution of so called ‘experimental’ bands. Their wonky free-jazz workouts were punctuated with 300mph wobbly prog-punk blasts and were met with either unfaltering admiration or downright distaste. One journalist felt so unlucky to have witnessed their first show that he felt compelled to use the word ‘pretentious’ eleven times in his review.
Hot Club de Paris spent the rest of 2004 and 2005 honing their skewif pop-punk songs and developing their experimental arranging style further. They toured the country in the hours they could get off work, made shows happen in Liverpool and gathered momentum until the music industry decided that they might be a financially viable prospect, despite initially being put off by their rigorous DIY ethic and hands-on approach. After a strew of A+R men passed through their rehearsal room and live shows, they signed with the London-based Moshi Moshi Records and finally recorded their long-awaited debut at Elevator Studios, Liverpool in early 2006. After spending only 10 days recording the 15 songs that appeared on the record, the album was intended to be a document that captured the energy and fun of their live shows. They plugged in and played and came out with an album packed full of short, smart and spiky time signature-laden pop songs.
Their first 7” single ‘sometimesitsbetternottostickbitsofeachotherineachotherforeachother’ sold out completely during the first week and their debut record ‘Drop It ‘til It Pops’ was met with critical acclaim in the UK and across Europe when it was released in October 2006. During 2006 and 2007, Hot Club de Paris toured with bands such as Maximo Park, Jamie T and Dirty Pretty Things as well as numerous headline tours where they constructed bills that introduced their favourite bands from British DIY (That Fucking Tank, Safetyword, Johnny Foreigner, DARTZ!, goFASTER>>, Elle S’appelle etc) to their new growing audiences. The album was toured extensively across the world. Highlights included performing shows in India as part of an initiative organised by the British Arts Council in Mumbai, selling out the Scala in London on their first headline tour of the UK and a drunken sell-out fortnight in Germany.
The spring and summer of 2007 saw the band finally arrive home in Liverpool to begin work on the follow-up to Drop It Til It Pops. The ideas came thick and fast. The music pouring out of their new rehearsal room at Elevator studios was technical and mathy but retained all the pop song sing-a-long refrains of their previous record. Their use of time signatures became more complex and challenging but were far less jerky and jarring than those used in their previous material. The astute lyrics continued to span their usual vast breadth of subject matter covering topics from dead lakes where life refuses to live to haunted houses and good parties gone bad. After endless deliberation over the choice of producer, they settled with Chicago resident Brian Deck. Previously working with Modest Mouse, Ugly Cassanova, Iron and Wine, Sea and Cake, Chin Up Chin Up, Mr Deck was no stranger to making records with pop bands with experimental tendencies. The band boarded the plane in October 2007 and spent 7 weeks at Engine Studios, Chicago recording the songs they had written that previous summer. They came home with a record showcasing the organism that Hot Club de Paris had developed into over the last few years. The forthcoming record is called Live at Dead Lake and will come out in June 2008 on Moshi Moshi Records.
Brothers Matthew and Alasdair Smith collided with Paul Rafferty sometime during the middle of 2003 whilst otherwise busy working shitty temp jobs and dicking about in a number of local bands. They...
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