PHOTO CREDIT: @aldeperez
WITH a name like ‘The Coolness’; I could not…
PHOTO CREDIT: @aldeperez
let it slip without asking just HOW cool the guys are! They talk to me about arranging and shooting the video for Chicken Leg Girl – and the fascinating story behind it! I learn more about the band’s formation and what the future holds; why this week has been a bit of a hazy one – and how important London is to The Coolness.
I hear more about gentrification and fried chicken; the music that inspires the band; working with Gsus Lopez – and some words of advice for new songwriters.
Hi, guys. How are you? How has your week been?
We have been touring Wetherspoon pubs: not in a musical sense, but sampling the new menu (two desserts for £5). We went to see B.R.M.C. (Black Rebel Motorcycle Club) at Brixton and drank a few overpriced ales from plastic cups - so we are recovering from a slight hangover!
For those new to your work; can you introduce yourself, please?
We live in London. We’ve been doing this for a while (making records) - so we should be fairly good at it. We haven’t put out an album yet; however, we do have ten E.P.s and you can download them for free HERE…
We certainly don’t fit into one specific genre of modern music. The Coolness is a well-balanced mix of Electronic-Pop, Dance; Rock and Funk. Most of the songs start out in GarageBand once we have the riff, basic chords or melody - we will then we finish them off in Logic or Pro Tools. On Chicken Leg Girl; Chaz wrote the synth bass line and sings; Dave plays the oriental-sounding lead-line (on a £20 Casio keyboard) and Eddie plays the drums. We used electronic drum-pads: that’s why it doesn’t sound entirely like a band playing in a room.
Although; we did record it live. No guitars or bass guitar on this track!
PHOTO CREDIT: @aldeperez
I want to know more about Chicken Leg Girl. What was the reasoning for focusing on the fast-food culture of today?
The lyrics and musical idea originally came from a vague description of a fine young lady our singer was trying (and failing) to date. The lady in question is of a physical stature that some might consider slim. She could, however, eat more food than the entire band put together.
We put this unique feat down to good genetics...
Are you all partial to a bit of fried chicken? Do you think we have become too dependent on the fast and greasy?
‘The Fast and Greasy?’ That sounds like the best movie Robert Rodriguez never made!
We actually filmed the video for our track Semen in his studio in Texas, U.S.A. Anyway; enough with name-dropping! I put the rise in the popularity of fried chicken (in London at least) down to economic disparity and ongoing gentrification. Fried chicken shops are not really so different in calories or taste to the current wave of (rip-off) £14 gastro burger chains (Dirty Burger et al).
The difference is; the burger places are marketed to the suit the tastes of careerists: the kind of people that have moved to London to focus on a job or tourists. Fried chicken shops are basically catering for indigenous Londoners, the poor - or those who simply don’t care about trends or fashion.
PHOTO CREDIT: @aldeperez
However, there is also a new ‘chicken trend’: places such as Strut & Cluck, Chic ‘n’ Sours; Wingman, Bird; Temple of Seitan and Chicken Town. This, basically, is fried chicken marketed to more middle-class types (at three-times the cost). It’s probably just as unhealthy! We are all originally from the island, Portsmouth - where it’s all about fish and chips. The only independent chains of fast-food we had growing up was Ken’s Kebabs and Uncle Sam’s - chicken was a rarity.
When we moved to London, it is was like ‘WHOAH’!
The video looked like it was ‘interesting’! Dressed as women, accompanied by a human in a chicken suit, did you get a few odd looks?! What was it like shooting the video?
We filmed the video on ‘Murder Mile’: Chatsworth Road, Hackney. A chicken shop on a corner-street called Chicken Lickin’ gave us a great deal to film one sunny Sunday. We are very grateful to them and they also do lovely pizza. No-one was harmed or abused during the video. A few young kids on BMXs gave us funny looks - but that is expected when filming on-location.
Again; Clapton is a part of London that has been heavily gentrified. Ten years ago, this road had little or no cafes, restaurants; organic shops or craft beer bars (all with black shop-fronts). That’s all changed now. Chicken Lickin’ suddenly feels like a hidden gem within a sea of pop-up, conformist; organic homogenisation.
Crystal Fighters also filmed the music video for their biggest-ever hit, Follow, on Chatsworth Road. Unfortunately, we do not think Chicken Leg Girl will sell as many records as that song - but we can only hope! L.o.L.
Gsus Lopez directed. He is in no short supply of talent! What was it like joining forces?
We have always respected Gsus’ work. We think it’s very challenging.
Anyone young and old can identify with it - and you don’t have to come from a queer or L.G.B.T. disposition or stand-point to understand its full message. We met at a Club Cool warehouse party and we were speaking about the idea for filming a video for more than one year. Originally, we were meant to have a female playing the part of the Chicken Leg Girl - but that didn’t happen last-minute. If Chaz didn’t drag up, then the video would have never of been made. Gsus and his team were a joy to work with - and we will collaborate with them in the future.
Chicken Leg Girl was Gsus’ first attempt at a music video…we hope other great artists hit him up!
Is there more material coming in 2018?
Yes. We have at least ten great songs that we need to finish recording.
You guys are ‘The Coolness’. On a scale of Theresa May (0) to The Fonz (11) – how cool are you?! Have you any proof to back up any claims?!
While none of us identifies with her politics; in comparison to the political leaders of the past, Theresa May’s dress sense is half-decent. She has some mad jewellry and eye-shadow - it’s almost Rocky Horror Show. I could imagine The Coolness rocking a Theresa May look onstage one day! In fact; at our last few gigs, we have worn the left-over outfits from the Chicken Leg Girl video. Aprons and visors etc.
So, for now, we’d actually have to score ourselves in the minuses.
It seems your songs – and memorable song-titles – have a sense of fun and tongue-in-cheek wink. Do you think music lacks a certain humour?
Unless you have a marketable brand - or you can sell an idea - then there’s very little money left to be made from doing music these days. It’s as simple as that.
The knock-on-effect of this scenario is that, nowadays, every new or young artist is trying to write a song or develop a sound that will get played by F.M. radio or have some social media coverage. This is the only way they will ever get heard; so that cuts out swearing, nudity; drug references, radical political beliefs and profanity - all of the elements that used to make artists of interest develop a following back in the day. I guess we are just lucky and/or old enough to remember the glory days - or we simply care little about being an industry-friendly band.
Saying that...there’s still great new music out there: the only difference is people nowadays would rather meet on a dating app than at a local or new band gig. Many gig environments these days can be quite asexual places - which is a great thing, but also different from how it generally used to be in the past!
IMAGE CREDIT: Caio Locke
It has been said you are solely responsible for finding Charli XCX! Did you guys really launch her – or did you discover her wandering the street in need of a lift after a late-night out?!
She was only fifteen at the time, so no, we did not ‘find her’ on the streets on a night out! We came across her page on Myspace. We listened and instantly we, undoubtedly, thought she was going to be the next Madonna or Kate Bush. So, obviously, we immeditely sent her a message; her dad called me up to discuss business and she played her first ten-plus shows supporting us.
It took her a while (about two years) to get signed - and all the time she was playing these crazy guerrilla gigs and warehouse raves with us...
Crazy, considering her parents had to accompany her to these semi-legal places full of sex, drugs and ear-splitting sound-systems.
You play on keyboards discovered in junk shops. What has been your finest find? What is the reason for this budget-priced musicianship?
The keyboards never differ too much in price or attributes. The best one we found is the Yamaha PSS 470. I got it from a second-hand shop, ran by Lou Winwood and Pete Voss, in 2008 called I Dream of Wires. You can edit the sounds and waveforms individually - which is rare. Funnily enough, Saul from Fat White Family uses this very keyboard for his new project, Insecure Men (including his main press photo).
Is Tropical used it a fair bit on their first album, too. It’s nice to know the trend is catching on: it’s an original sound to be able to achieve in this day and age of Ableton, perfection and soft synths.
Call it lo-fi for the 2010s…
IN THIS PHOTO: KYLYPSO
If you had to select the album that means the most to you; which would it be and why?
We would probably all choose Appetite for Destruction by Guns N’ Roses
It’s an obvious choice but it’s a great balance of songwriting, craftsmanship and performance captured onto tape. Add this to the fact that the band had a sleazy story behind them, combined with arguably the perfect amount of production and overdubbing that a record needs.
There’s a reason they are the highest-earning touring entity of 2017 - it probably boils down to honesty, humility and notoriety.
Can we see you perform anywhere soon? Where can we catch you play?
We are currently working on some new music videos ideas and recordings. We are not one to rush: we are called The Coolness for a reason.
We will make an announcement about shows before the New Year via social media.
London is a city you seem suited to be, surely, a band this cool cannot be satisfied by London alone. Any plans on touring internationally? Anywhere you have always wanted to perform?
The London night-life and music scene is full of 1990s' sportswear, poseurs and bowl haircuts. We have toured abroad in the past and this is our next objective after releasing a few new singles. South America seems to have the best crowds and fans. Also, East Asia seems up-and-coming. We have a part-time member called Geki who hails from Japan. We seemed to do well in Eastern Europe in the past.
We would also love to go back there.
What advice would you give to artists coming through right now?
Image is everything. Treat your fans well. Put on your own shows. Get a good producer. Concentrate on the tools you already have - even if it’s only a Casio. Write and produce songs standing up; don’t labour behind a computer screen.
You only need one good song to get noticed.
Christmas is not too far away. Do you all have plans already - or will you be busy working?
We have written a Christmas song in the past called Cool Christmas. We might write another.
Finally, and for being good sports; you can name a song and I’ll play it here (not one of yours as I’ll do that).
Deadly Valentine by Charlotte Gainsbourg. Solely for the sound of the backwards piano...
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