Published Jul 25, 2010In their suit and do-rag, respectively, Chromeo's Dave Macklovitch and Patrick Gemayel might look like the kind of duo who'd take themselves too seriously to allow album-release excitement to show through, but they're not. Over the phone from Sweden, they're both utterly genuine, their excitement to be releasing their third album, Business Casual (on Sept. 14) utterly transparent. Macklovitch is particularly giddy, wanting so badly to ensure we know what to expect from Business Casual that he repeats himself, both for emphasis and for posterity.
"I think it's sexier and more sophisticated, but also slightly more modern than the last one. Well, to rephrase that, it's sexier, it's more sophisticated, a little bit more modern, and a little bit smoother than the last one." Asked why, Macklovitch elaborates, calling Business Casual "a little bit less of an exercise in '80s staples" on which the duo focused on creating "more of a softer, soundtrack effect for the record."
"There are strings, different chord progressions, more vocal harmonies ― it's just a bit more elaborate," Gemayel adds.
Fans in Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Calgary, and Vancouver can catch the band live when they parade Business Casual through their home nation this fall. "The thing I like about touring Canada," Macklovitch admits, "is the sense of pride and the deep connection with people because it's our home country. And Tim Horton's gets an honourable mention as well."
What are you up to?
Dave Macklovitch: I am in Sweden answering your questions.
Patrick Gemayel: I am in Sweden, in my hotel room, approving t-shirt designs.
What are your current fixations?
Dave: Lindsey Buckingham. He's the guitar player from Fleetwood Mac, but he's had a solo career as well. He's one of the most amazing guitar players in the world today, not to mention songwriters. I'm obsessed with him. And maybe this isn't very original, but Oscar Niemeyer, the architect. I just realized that he designed the headquarters of the communist party in France, and that was always one of my favourite buildings in the world.
Patrick: My current fixation is Djungelvrål, it's a Swedish kind of licorice candies. It's salty licorice with different flavours.
Why do you live where you do?
Dave: Because I teach where I live, and because my brother, who I adore, lives across the street from where I live.
Patrick: I live in Montreal because it's a great city, it's not as hectic as New York, and I'm close to my father and sister.
Name something you consider a mind-altering work of art:
Dave: Let's go with Baudelaire's "The Flowers of Evil."
Patrick: We went to the mural museum in Barcelona. That was mind-altering.
What has been your most memorable or inspirational gig and why?
Dave: I guess that would be what we just did, playing alongside Darryl Hall at Bonnaroo Festival, because we were playing with our idol and musical mentor. He was playing our songs and we were playing his songs and I don't think there's anything that can make an artist feel better than getting that kind of affirmation and camaraderie from one of their greatest sources of inspiration.
Patrick: That would be the Bonnaroo gig we just did with Darryl Hall because playing with one of our idols was inspirational, surreal and flattering at the same time.
What have been your career highs and lows?
Dave: I guess my career high has been the simple fact of having made three albums and still having a musical career and doing shows that are well attended and at which people sing all our songs, and the career lows would be... lots of shlepping.
Patrick: Our career high would be being able to tour the world and have fans everywhere ― that's a constant high. Our gig with Darryl Hall was a great point, being on Conan O'Brien was a career high too. And lows... where to start? There were a lot of lows in the earlier years. We played in Santa Barbara years ago, and we were opening for the Chippendales [male erotic dancers]. Just before they got to the gig, they got in a car accident, and one or two of them died, so the gig was cancelled. We were already on the road there, and the promoter is like "Hey, do you still want to come to the show? We'll still pay you." We got there and nobody was there except the three barmaids. one old drunk lady on the dance floor and the sound guy in the back. At some point, it just became a practice for us, but out of nervousness I said into the mic, "Hey, we're Chromeo, sorry we're not exactly the Chippendales," and some drunk guy in the back yelled out "the Chippendales are dead!" It was a very low point in our career.
What's the meanest thing ever said to you before, during or after a gig?
Dave: It would have been with a particularly unappreciative audience. It was silence, but that silence spoke volumes.
Patrick: Some guy in Victoria, he came onstage really drunk during "You're So Gangsta," and there's this sax solo in the backup tracks because we don't have enough hands to play it live. He came onstage during the show, and he was like "Where's the saxophone, man?! You're not even playing it!" But the meanest thing that was ever said to me personally was in an article by somebody who really didn't like our stuff. They called me "Ali G after a KFC binge." Imagine. Can you imagine? That article was really destroying.
What should everyone shut up about?
Dave: Pop culture gossip, whether it be Tiger Woods, Mel Gibson, or whoever's gonna talk shit next week.
Patrick: Everyone should shut up about global warming.
What traits do you most like and most dislike about yourself?
Dave: Dislike would certainly be my impatience, and like would be my neuroses, I guess because it's what's pushed me to greater achievements.
What's your idea of a perfect Sunday?
Dave: Brunch, a museum, and a stroll with my tenderoni of the moment.
Patrick: Get up at noon, have brunch with my family, go back home, have a siesta, go out to dinner with friends, come back home, sleep.
What advice should you have taken, but did not?
Dave: That's profound. Oh, I've got it! Let me quote you something, hold on. Okay: "Watch out boy, she'll chew you up, she's a man-eater."
Patrick: Listen in class.
What would make you kick someone out of your band and/or bed, and have you?
Dave: Same thing in both cases: poor taste.
Patrick: Bad shoes.
What do you think of when you think of Canada?
Dave: Unfortunately, our Prime Minister, Adolf Hitler.
What was the first LP/cassette/CD/eight track you ever bought with your own money?
Dave: [Guns N Roses'] Appetite for Destruction.
Patrick: LL Cool J's Bigger and Deffer.
What was your most memorable day job?
Dave: I was a parkskeeper in the neighbourhood where I grew up on Saturdays and Sundays, and all I did was sit, watch girls tan and kick little hasidic kids off of their bicycles. And P [Patrick] came and would hang out for the whole shift, which was 13 hours.
Patrick: Working for and with my family at a grocery store.
How do you spoil yourself?
Dave: Occasional retail therapy. I buy a new suit.
Patrick: I spoil myself with food.
If I wasn't playing music I would be…
Dave: Teaching French, which I already am.
Patrick: Running a restaurant.
What do you fear most?
Patrick: Animals. In general, especially dogs.
What makes you want to take it off and get it on?
Dave: My pants being too tight.
Patrick: Barry White.
What has been your strangest celebrity encounter?
Dave: We got an email last week from one of the Jonas Brothers, I think it was John ― is there a John Jonas? He emailed our record label and said that he wanted to meet us because we were his favourite band. We were in London and he was in London, and yeah ― apparently we're his favourite band. That was strange.
Patrick: Paris Hilton came to one of our shows for one song. She came in with like, five bouncers around her and some of her friends, right in the middle of the club, got up on a couch, watched "Needy Girl," and then left.
Who would be your ideal dinner guest, living or dead, and what would you serve them?
Dave: This is going to be really cliche, so I need you to write "obviously" at the end of the quote. My ideal dinner guest would be [Marcel] Proust, and I would serve him madeleines, obviously.
Patrick: My ideal dinner guest would be Rick James, and I'd serve him foie gras and champagne.
What does your mom wish you were doing instead?
Dave: Nothing. She's happy with what I'm doing right now.
Patrick: My mom wishes I was a doctor or a lawyer, or running the store that she sold ten years ago because I didn't want to take it.
What song would you like to have played at your funeral?
Dave: Barry White, "Playing Your Game, Baby."
Patrick: "Computer Love" by Zapp & Roger.