We sat down with the self-appointed “#FunkLordz” of Chromeo over some tea that quickly evolved into a boozy liquid brunch on Cerise Rooftop. Watch as Hillary Sawchuk of A Drink With asks the dynamic duo (P-Thugg and Dave 1, to be exact) about everything under the sun: from high school, to the highs and lows of being a band on the rise, all the way to their retirement plans. Visit adrinkwith.com for more.
ADW: When a song is almost done, do you go through a checklist to make sure it has certain elements?Dave: We always ask ourselves, “Does it have some deep, hidden element that all of our music nerd friends are going to respect?”
Patrick: Again, “Is it high-low?” We need something for the nerds, like highbrow music – referential dork shit – and then lowbrow enough for everybody to like it, even if you don’t understand music or theory.
Dave: [That’s true] especially now. We had a Top 40 song on our last album for the first time in our career. Obviously it’d be great to have more like that, so we’re creating music with a broader audience in mind. A lot of our fans are much too young to know Hall & Oates or Prince, or whatever. They don’t need to. But if you’re 35 and you know who Boz Scaggs is and you get that we reference this part or that, you can also [connect]. Like P said, the goal is to make music that everyone appreciates and that the critics, snobs and music nerds can also chew on. Like, what if we put in this specific drum machine or if P took these chords and made them really weird and subtle without anyone noticing?
Patrick: It’s just for the peers to understand. We’ve built a whole career on cred[ibility] for the last 15 years and now we need to keep that mystery, but still please everybody else. ADW: Gosh, 15 years. Do you feel like it’s flown by?
Dave: It’s not 15, yet. You kinda scared me [for a minute].
Patrick: We’ve been making music together for 20 years, so 21 or 22 together? The lines have blurred [since Chromeo was formed in 2002]. ADW: Has it felt like a long road?
Dave: It’s been a long process but, like with the last album, it was really a new beginning. We’re very much rookies in the game in certain aspects, and then in terms of touring, we’re seasoned vets. But in terms of radio or song writing with other people or making really polished music, we’re new. So it’s challenging in some aspects.
ADW: Has there a moment where you two looked at each other and said, “Okay, this is actually going to happen”?
Patrick: There were two milestones – a lot of headlining, a lot of festivals, on that main stage at Lolla, Coachella. We just looked at each other and thought, “Oh, that was something,” but we were stressing a couple times. And stuff like doing Daryl Hall’s show. That was another milestone, like “Oh, the press is actually looking at us now.”
Dave: Once people come to your first show then you think, “Wow, people care.” We did it for four years playing for like 60 people and then at one point it was sold out and we were like, “Oh, cool.”
ADW: When you’re running on empty, what’s your go-to pick-me-up?
Dave: Massages are good.
Patrick: A good burger.
Dave: Good food. We’ll look up good restaurants when we can. P goes shopping like crazy. P gets vintage Ed Hardy.
Patrick: [I did that] when I visited Chicago on the last two tours.
ADW: Where do you shop here?
Dave: He goes to some vintage store downtown where they still sell things on sale. P does a lot of shopping. The tour bus is full with his stuff by the end of the tour.
Patrick: Record shopping, clothes, vintage clothing. I leave with half a suitcase and I come back with four. I’m a hoarder, so I’ll just stop everywhere. When I have two hours I don’t want to sit on the bus.
ADW: What’s your favorite memory from when you guys were younger?
Patrick: College shows.
Dave: Man, I don’t know. I just moved three days ago, so I was emptying my storage and I have everything from when we were kids. I have like the piece of paper where P first gave me his number, in 1995. I have everything.
Patrick: No, I have that – the little green note thing with the sticky, when I first took his number. And it’s not even Dave, it’s David.
ADW: Was it a house phone number?
Dave: Yeah, of course it was a house phone with no area code. It was my parents’ house number. Seven digits.
Patrick: You have all of the original artwork that you did by hand for our first high school band record with picture cut-outs, before Photoshop. Before computers.
Dave: Before everything. I was looking back. I think it was a hard time… teenage years. We were always a little dorkier and different. Trying to start a band wasn’t easy at first. We were really cutting our teeth. It’s not like we look back fondly. We look back fondly on stuff that happened last year – the last festival that we played. I always say that we really are the band version of the girl who got cute in college.
ADW: If you could have a drink with anyone, who would it be?
Dave: I would have loved to have a drink with Umberto Eco. He just passed away two days ago. He’s this Italian intellectual, university professor. I was an academic, right before this, and he was my idol. He was really the one guy that I would have loved to see speak or have an interaction with.
ADW: What would you have talked about?
Dave: What’s cool about him is that he wrote fiction, but he was also a really high-low kind of dude cause he wrote police novels – very pulpy police novels, but they always had this academic background. He was also a pretty amazing academic, so, I don’t know, aesthetics, semiotics.