There has been a lot of buzz recently about your work with various hip-hop producers. Could you explain the influence that hip-hop has had on the Disco Biscuits?
In order to get a great song, you need your formula of number one. You need a hook. That’s the most important part of any song, but especially for a hip-hop song. And that hook could be over the exact same groove, it’s just that melody needs to stand out. And that groove is equally important. It’s not just about putting a beat down that works, it’s about finding that perfect groove.
It was great working with artists like that who were just another influence. It was someone that we hadn’t been working with for 14 years. I love John, Marc, and Allen, but after 14 years, it’s nice to work with somebody else that you feel is contributing to the album in a way that you really trust.
It’s a very open door policy when dealing with the studio and the creation of songs for the creation of this album.
Will you be taking that open door policy approach to the next album?
I don’t know.
Too early to tell?
I wouldn’t mind doing it again. I don’t know if it was ever a conscious thing. It just happened that way being that we have a nice studio and a B room, as well. I would definitely do it that way again.
I don’t know whether we could talk about it in advance and confirm. It might be nice for the next album to stay a little more focused. Look at all the new songs we’ve been putting out that aren’t on this album. There are probably 10 songs that have come out in the past five months.
We could put out another album of songs that have been road tested, but that means it won’t really take long to get them to tape. And then we can have some fun and really start to harness the power of the studio.
Considering the heavy influence that dance and electronic music has had on your sound, it wouldn’t come as any surprise that you’d want to really harness the power of technology, both onstage and in the studio.
We spent so many years shying away from samplers. We didn’t want to have to rely on them. We use computers, but we use them tastefully. There’s nobody in the background singing on the computer tracks, but they’re doing sound effects and other crazy lines that are impossible to play physically.
What we started doing about year ago is Alan has his computer and the click of his computer is in his ears. We could be anywhere, we could be in the middle of the song, and Alan will tap the tempo into his computer and then he’ll draw the band forward or backwards like a BPM or two and then the next thing you know, we’re locked onto his click.
Then, when he presses play it then triggers my computer to play as well. So now my computer is completely locked onto his. So I could play loops and loop it in time to his computer and that will free up a hand to do whatever I want. Then if he speeds up the tempo, he is speeding up with on my computer, which will speed up my computer.
It’s an interesting way of using the computer in a different capacity than it’s normally used in an improvisational setting.
Last time we spoke, we talked about how tape trading really helped the Biscuits get their music out to a varied audience. With music distribution methods radically shifting, the Biscuits seem to be at the forefront of revolutionizing how to capture new markets (making your own festivals, giving away free EPs) at a time when the music industry appears to be failing.
The paradigm has shifted. There are definitely two very different schools of thought on it. Music is no longer a commodity. Everyone feels entitled to have free music at this point. It’s so easily accessible, why shouldn’t we just have it?
It’s weird how whatever the Napsters of the world have done has changed that approach that buyers have to recorded music. Maybe the price point was too high and that’s just what caused everyone to go with the free thing? Whatever it is, the times have unfortunately changed. You could either be stubborn about it or you could realize that in this present situation nobody really feels that they’re going to buy music anywhere. You hope that they do still, but you also want the means to get the music out there because that’s the most important part. If you recoup your money that’s great but if it means that only a 10th or a 20th of the people are going to hear the music then what’s the point?
I’m not saying that we should give away all music from here on forward, but we’re just trying to get the same deal that we talked about a few years ago. We’re just trying to get the music out there and get heard. If you get a free CD, you’re gonna listen to it.
I know that every year you guys do something special for your New Year’s Eve show. Since you’re playing five nights in a row, will every show get something special or just one?
I think at this point in our careers, what we realize for New Year’s in particular rather than taking all this time and focusing on some crazy thing at New Year’s, the goal is to really make those five shows bangin’. They’re going to be well rehearsed and exciting. We’re making those tremendous shows instead of focusing on the bells and whistles of flying people in on hot dogs or whatever.
The Disco Biscuits will be performing at the Nokia Theater in NYC from Dec. 26-Dec. 31. For more information visit discobiscuits.com. Keep your eyes out for their new album, Planet Anthem, slated for release in February 2010.