Hot Chip: ‘Joe once hit Alexis with a baseball bat!’

Joe Goddard and Al Doyle answer your questions about their favourite remixes, working with Jarvis Cocker and what really is the best sauce for hot chips

So how did you write Over and Over, the greatest song of all time? laurasnapes

Joe Goddard Me and Felix [Martin, drum machines] lived in an old converted church in Camden. I was trying to copy the bassline from Dance by ESG. Everyone added parts and Alexis [Taylor, lead vocals, guitar, keyboards] wrote the lyrics – “the joy of repetition really is in you” etc – referring to how Felix and I kept playing this bass groove over and over. I remember looking around the church with the estate agent going: “This’ll be perfect for your band practices. Sign here!” Then as soon as we started playing, the lady upstairs phoned, saying: “I’ve just had a baby. What are you doing?!”

What are your favourite Hot Chip deep cuts? I’m a massive fan of Ends of the Earth and Dark and Stormy.


Al Doyle (guitar/synth) Those are good ones. Also a B-side called The Girl in Me – and I really like Let There Be Him, because audiences would chant it.

Goddard I recently opened a laptop folder with about 50 demos from the year 2000, which were either amusing or incredibly embarrassing. We made a whole unreleased album called Felix in the Factory in 1998, which was not good. So for me those are deep cuts.

Which songs off the new album, Freakout/Release, are you most excited to have everyone hear? htowunivorn

Goddard Probably the title track, because when you’ve been a band for a long time it feels exciting to do something so different. It’s pared back, angrier, then goes almost techno punk. Also The Evil That Men Do. Alexis wrote the lyrics when there was all that bullshit directed at “wokeism”. The Colston statue had been pulled down in Bristol and we wanted to align ourselves with that. Britain’s colonial past has left this trauma in the British psyche that gets brushed under the carpet.

Hot Chip’s new track Freakout/Release.

Did you consider any other names before arriving at Hot Chip? wenders14

Goddard No. Alexis and I came up with that name in about 1995 when we were at school. We played our first gigs at the “performance centres” there, where you’d have arty stuff like Kieran [Hebden] from Four Tet doing guitar improvisation, or my mate Dan DJing jungle records while someone did mountain-bike tricks.

Doyle We used to say we chose the name so we could be next to Hot Chocolate in the record racks, which was utterly untrue.

What’s the best thing to put on hot chips? Ketchup, mayonnaise or curry sauce? TopTramp

Doyle I’m from up north [Leeds] so should say curry sauce, but I’m a mayonnaise man.

Goddard In Amsterdam once I had Thai peanut sauce on chips. It was great, but I was a bit stoned.

Al, how do you manage to be in Hot Chip and LCD Soundsystem at the same time? thsafc

Doyle It’s been absolute blind luck over the years that when one band’s been off, the other’s been on. There was one year when I couldn’t do LCD so they got an amazing guy called Dave Scott Stone from the Melvins. Major rehearsals take six weeks so I decamp to the States. It’s been very busy this year but a nice problem to have.

You have been responsible for some cracking remixes, such as Kids With Guns by Gorillaz. How much involvement does the original artist have when you remix their song?


Goddard It varies between being completely left to our own devices, someone giving us some pointers, or us going: “Would you like a house remix, sir?” It’s mostly plain sailing, like with Gorillaz. But occasionally it can really go to shit if they say: “But you haven’t included my guitar solo!” When Alexis and I did one for Kraftwerk we thought it would be cool to put distorted guitar on, but they sent it back with those sections removed.

And vice versa – do you have a favourite remix of Hot Chip? qbflestrin

Doyle Getting the Carl Craig remix of One Life Stand was amazing, and hearing other DJs playing it in clubs was incredible.

Hot Chip’s One Life Stand (Carl Craig remix) – video.

Goddard I really like Detroit producer Osborne’s remix of Take It In and the remix of No Fit State by Audion from a few years ago, a big hit in the clubs.

Doyle [laughs]

Goddard It was!

How did you get to work with Jarvis Cocker and how did the collaboration go down in person? laurasnapes

Goddard We’ve got a mutual DJ friend in Paris, so we started going to dinner, which was very exciting because Pulp’s His ’n’ Hers was a huge record for me. I think Alexis suggested Jarvis for our song Straight to the Morning. He was fantastic. He just came into the studio and became Jarvis! With the moves and everything.

Doyle It’s like when we did a thing with Peter Gabriel. We thought, “Blimey. He sounds like Peter Gabriel.

How has your approach to playing live changed over time? qbflestrin

Doyle The big change was getting a drummer, which started in New York when Felix was ill so couldn’t operate the drum machine. We knew the LCD guys a bit so asked Pat Mahoney to play with us. He listened to three or four songs in the dressing room, set up and did the gig. We were blown away.

I remember seeing you playing at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, in about 2001, playing acoustic guitars. A couple of you were with a friend of mine called Kate. One of the songs had a refrain about taking a beating. Have I imagined all this? Manofthesouth

Goddard We played a couple of Cambridge balls. Very drunken affairs, but we did actually have a song called Taking a Beating.

Hot Chip in 2006, jamming with bongos, guitars and maracas
Hot Chip in 2006. Photograph: Record company handouts

Doyle And we do have a friend called Kate! I saw her very recently in the Lake District, so it’s all true.

As an older fan, Hot Chip are my “new” New Order. Is there any comment or storyline you can offer about their influence or otherwise? Joanne

Goddard They’re a massive influence on us and we’ve played with them several times. Bernard [Sumner] once told me that one of the reasons he fell out with Peter Hook was the way Hooky ate his crisps. Apparently, when he’d finished them he’d open up the bag and get his face in all the corners. Relationships with bandmates do get quite intense!

You always look like you’re having a great time live. Is it as much fun as it looks? Slowandnoddy

Goddard [drily] No.

Doyle Sometimes. This is a raw question, because we’ve had some gigs recently where things haven’t been quite right , so you’re smiling on stage but dying inside. When we were very young, Owen [Clarke, multi-instrumentalist] and I had a fist fight and Joe once hit Alexis with a baseball bat.

Goddard It was actually an outsize drum stick from a shop display, but it looked like a baseball bat. One of my happiest times on stage was in Cardiff, hitting balloons with it, but I accidentally clipped Alexis.

Doyle It was a head wound. We retired it from live shows after that.

• Freakout/Release is released on 19 August


As told to Dave Simpson

The GuardianTramp

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