Hot Chip frontman Alexis Taylor has spoken to PSNEurope about the making of the band's new album A Bath Full Of Ecstasy, revealing how they overcame studio tensions and embraced a new way of working to produce their most sonically adventurous record to date.
Released on June 21, A Bath Full Of Ecstasy sees the band call upon the services of not just one but two outside producers for the first time to date in the form of Phillipe Zdar (Cassisus, Phoenix, Beastie Boys) and Rodaidh McDonald (The xx, David Byrne, Sampha). And while the move to bring two distinct new voices to the fold wasn’t without its difficulties, it was a decision they were determined to make.
“I’d just made a solo album (2018’s Beautiful Thing) with Tim Goldsworthy producing and I enjoyed that experience a lot,” Taylor told PSNEurope as part of this month's big interview. “That was the first time a solo record of mine was produced by someone else, so I felt very open to the idea of a new collaborator. And Joe, who is ostensibly the main producer in Hot Chip (even though we do some co-production), wanted to change how we operate in order to not make the same kind of record again. He wanted to see what would happen if we had an outside producer, or as it turned out, two producers. It was a way to explore new working methods, hoping it would lead to something fresh. And that’s what happened. Both producers were very different in how they operated, so we didn’t get two of the same type of producer. It was an interesting experiment, which paid off well.”
Inevitably, the process of introducing two very different outlooks in the studio was far from seamless, with both Zdar and McDonald – as was intended – quick to shake up the band’s long held formula.
“There was some friction at points with Rodaidh because he was really pushing us to do things differently from before,” Taylor recalls. “I didn’t feel too much friction myself, but some people weren’t always ready for what he was encouraging us to do. We weren’t used to having someone else’s voice in the room and suddenly there is somebody challenging the songwriting approach and being quite forthright about what we could do with the songs, what needed improving, editing or rewriting. He was quite involved and there was a bit of tension at times, but that’s what we’d asked for. There wouldn’t have been much point in getting a producer in and then ignoring their advice, so we were quite open to it.”
He continues: “Phillipe was less challenging in those ways, more encouraging and more of a positive force in the room, getting the best out of us. He was strongly recommended to us by Franz Ferdinand, who are on the same record label (Domino) as us. We met him, really liked him and thought he’d be a good t. We’d heard what an enthusiastic influence he’d been for Franz Ferdinand and I’d seen some footage of him on Instagram leading sessions and dancing in the studio, mixing and just being very into it. It looked like he’d be really fun to work with. He uni ed the whole band and provided an environment and space for us to work with him that made it very comfortable for us to all get involved, play simultaneously and improvise.
"With Rodaidh, we knew of his work with The xx and David Byrne, so we met with him and he seemed like quite an intense, focused producer who immediately had good ideas as to what he’d like to help us with. He also liked us playing one person at a time, with each dubbing their parts.”