By Rob van Alstyne
By Zach McCormick
By Emily Eveland
By Jack Spencer
By Michael Madden
By Reed Fischer
By Emily Weiss
By Emily Weiss
Chromeo and their sing-along electro kitsch have only been around since 2004, but it's hard to imagine the dance floor without them. Throw "Fancy Footwork" or "Needy Girl" on at a party and watch the vibe suddenly morph into something much more playful—it's as if Chromeo's the inside joke we all get. Dance music's odd couple—lanky Dave 1 (David Macklovitch) on smooth-guy vocals and beefy P-Thugg (Patrick Gemayel) on keys and talk box—will come to the Twin Cities for the first time this weekend to promote their third release, Business Casual, so we called up the Montreal-based P-Thugg to find out what to expect and why they've stayed away.
City Pages: Why deprive Minneapolis of the funk for so long? We're a funky town.
P-Thugg: I promise it was nothing intentional. I just think it was a matter of timing and logistics.
701 1st Ave. N.
Minneapolis, MN 55403
Category: Bars and Clubs
Region: Minneapolis (Downtown)
CP: Fair enough. Are you excited to play First Avenue?
P-Thugg: Yeah! I've seen Purple Rain, a long time ago, but I think I need to watch it again before we get there to refresh my memory.
CP: Chromeo has a very distinct sound. Did you try anything new on Business Casual?
P-Thugg: It's basically a continuation of Fancy Footwork but has a bit more balance in there. We put a lot of work into making it a bit more musical, working on song structure, chord progression, and pushing Dave to sing more harmonies. And we added a string section on a couple of songs, which is a big departure for us. But at the same time, we don't want to alienate our fans and people who like us for our Fancy Footwork vibe.
CP: Would you say that's the song that really gets at the heart of Chromeo, the title track?
P-Thugg: It's pretty representative of us—it's fun and has that atomic kind of funk people connect with. We don't want to lose that but we have to grow musically. In the end, we have to find a balance between that and, say, doing a free-jazz record.
CP: Speaking of new and different, we heard you did an Eagles cover in D.C. a few weeks ago. Any other bands you'd want to cover?
P-Thugg: It would be cool to do Fleetwood, but I think that's already been done.
CP: Have you thought about doing a Prince cover?
P-Thugg: If you really think about it, all of our songs are basically covers of funk songs and Prince songs, so we try to keep away from that because it would be redundant for us to cover something that we already copy! [Laughs] We want to reach out to our other influences—like, we're huge fans of '70s classic rock. I love Steely Dan.
CP: "Business casual" is an office reference, so tell me about your last "regular" job and the weirdest job you ever had.
P-Thugg: My last regular job was an accountant for a music store in Montreal. My weirdest job? Well, I was like a jack of all trades so I kind of did everything. I used to sell gold fronts.
CP: No way.
P-Thugg: Yeah, it was back in the late '90s and it was still not really back in fashion. I stopped selling them in the early 2000s. Man, I've done a lot of random stuff trying to be an entrepreneur.
CP: Chromeo touches a lot on casual relationships. What was your dating life like before Chromeo?
P-Thugg: Nothing's really changed. I've been dating on and off for years, and if I find a nice girl I'll stick with her for a year or two and then I get tired and go back to dating. It's the same scenario, except it's easier to meet girls when you're on tour. And you don't have to convince her how cool you are. She already knows.
CP: Do you read your reviews?
P-Thugg: Yes, and I don't like the bad ones.
CP: Understandable. What's one gig you'll really remember decades down the road?
P-Thugg: There was this one gig we did years ago in Santa Barbara when we were totally unknown and we were supposed to open for the Chippendales, the male dancers. We were driving there and got a call that one of them died. We were like, what the fuck, what's happening? Are we still coming? The promoter was a fan so he told us just to come anyway and "just see who shows up." We needed the money so we went, and the club was completely empty but we decided just to do the show. There were three drunk bartenders in front, dancing, a sound guy in the back, and a few security guards. It started feeling awkward and there was mic feedback, and we were like, "We're not the Chippendales." And someone in the back screamed, "THE CHIPPENDALES ARE DEAD!" It was crazy.
CHROMEO play with Holy Ghost! on SATURDAY, AUGUST 7, at FIRST AVENUE; 612.332.1775. For a peek at their new album and video, click gimmenoiseblog.com.