WhoMadeWho photographed by Christel
Getting texts from management in Copenhagen at 11pm GMT telling you that their band won't have time to do an interview with you is kinda annoying. Especially when you were actually scheduled to interview the band the next morning. But after a number of cross continental texts later, an amicable agreement was reached and I managed to hustle myself an early-ish morning slot in WhoMadeWho's schedule (prior to them heading off to get 1000 pounds worth of free gear on Bond Street. Sharing is caring - pass the Third Worlders some of that would ya?).
So I feel like there's this weird correlation between WhoMadeWho and the Oompa Loompas of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory fame. I tried to explain this to Tomas Hoeffding (bass, vocals) and Tomboy (aka Tomas Barford, drums) whilst Jeppe Kjellberg (guitar, vocals) was MIA until the very rear end of the interview. I'm not sure they appreciated the Oompa Loompa comparison, but I meant well, I really did.
To demonstrate this, I shall now compare and contrast WMW with OL:
- Oompa Loompas aren't midgets, nor are they dwarves, or severely jaundiced children. What even are they?? I do not know. I can't seem to pigeon-hole WhoMadeWho into any particular genre or associate them too tightly with any other band in particular. What even are they?? I do not know. Therefore both OLs and WMW are beyond classification.
- Both OLs and WMW know how to work their shit; both are mad fun to watch perform.
- Both OLs and WMW wear zany matching outfits and occasionally have a rather similar vocal style.
- OLs are NOT sexy. WMW are, personally and musically.
- OLs are incredibly short. WMW are very tall.
- OLs are slaves to the (Chocolate) Factory and Gene Wilder's Willy. WMW are only slaves to their own music, as I am to it also.
- OLs only have one song, and they actually reprise it a number of times whilst at the Chocolate Factory. WMW's debut and sophomore albums have many songs that are able to be played addictively, on repeat.
OLs aside, WMW began with a very clear vision of creating a trio that would able to play live in a club setting with the mind-set of a DJ; able to develop break downs and build ups. They wanted to be a live instrumental band who could interact with the crowd.
Eventually their Modus Operandus filled a hole in a club scene dominated by ‘cool’ DJs with laptops playing café latte music - they've succeeded way beyond their expectation. Even the mere idea of re-mixing Franz Ferdinand (a current project) had never occurred to any of them as an option seven years ago when they began. Now WMW fills up their lives with touring and remixing, leaving them barely any time for anything else. They DID though, have time to talk to me before they darted off to cop some free shit.
Introduce yourselves if you please.
Tomas H: Tomas I sing and play the bass. And we have Jeppe who sings and plays the guitar. And then we have Tomas, who is the fat guy with the weird face who plays drums.........No, he's actually not fat.
No, not fat at all.
We've been together tonight and I've been telling him how much of a shrimp body he has.
TomBoy: I used to be like 5 kilos heavier...but it wasn't fat. It was just -
Tomas H: - that was air.
Squeezing a bit of extra into those skeleton suits -
Tomas H: Actually these skeleton suits are a very good reason in trying to keep fit because if you have one month of being like, aah whatever, drink beers, eat...and then you see some pictures from the weekend, and somebody has tagged you on Facebook and it's baaaad -
Just de-tag that shit. Thank god for the de-tag option. All of you have been in music for a long time. How old are you?
Tomas H: 35.
Tomas H: I just turned 35 when we played the song "Space For Rent". Actually we wrote that song when I was 30. And now I'm 35. And I'm feeling kinda stupid when I'm singing it. I'm just waiting for when I'm 40 and still singing it...
There are all these really young kids who may not in every circumstance be that talented, but for whatever reason have massive backing behind them. How does that make you feel? Do you feel intimidated by that at all?
Tomas H: You know what, I don't feel intimidated at all.
TomBoy: Actually the worst was like 2, 3 years ago when the whole club thing happened and everybody had to be like 16 to 19 and everybody was on Myspace and the Klaxons and stuff came out. We were feeling like, maybe we've just lost it now. Maybe it's finished. Maybe we're too old. But it seems like it's even better now because our career had a short downturn and now its bigger than ever. I think that the quality of music always talks for itself. And it's not all about teenagers. It's also about good music.
Tomas H: I think it also matters that we just build an image and a music style and a crowd where we don't pretend to be 20 years old. We're like, "Hey we're grown up guys." And that's cool. We're like totally open about it. Those guys have kids. And I think that it seems like the people who like our music they totally accept that. You get a lot of respect. Because a lot of people at 30, or my age, they're totally boring. Uncreative. So I think a lot of young people when they see us being a little older... I hope think and feel like, "Yeah there will still hope for me".
TomBoy: But also I think that the whole age thing is not an issue anymore. It used to be kind of an issue. Everybody wanted to sign young bands and stuff. But now I have friends in the beginning of their 20s and I have friends in their 40s and it doesn't matter what age you are, it's a matter of what your music is and whether you're going to develop.
I'm Australian and I remember a few years back after you released your first album; everyone loved you guys, in Sydney at least. Is it true that you did some of The Plot in Australia?
TomBoy: Yeah we did some.
Where did you hang out?
TomBoy: Actually it was on a laptop in a really tall hotel.
Tomas H: World Tower, on the 70th floor. We actually made these two songs about travelling, called 'Keep Me In Plane' and 'I Lost My Voice'.
TomBoy: Yeah, we did some re-recording afterwards, but we did a lot of the groundwork there.
I associate you guys, in terms of your image and stuff - don't be offended because I think this is a good thing - with Oompa Loompas.
Tomas H: What??
Have you seen Charlie and the Chocolate factory? And those little guys, you know who sing that 'oompa loompa' -
Tomas H: (laughs) Oompa loompas? They are so small! These guys are almost 2 metres high!
I know, I know, but with your kind of kooky moves; and the fact that I think the Oompa Loompa songs are amazing, they're really catchy -
Tomas H: I know what you're saying. You're not talking about our music, you're talking about our stage performance...Or are you talking about the music?
Kinda. Well. Yeah.
[TomBoy laughs. Jeppe enters at around this point]
Because both WhoMadeWho and the Oompa Loompas make really catchy music. You both kinda present this odd - but cool - package, specially when performing. Anyone watching or listening can get easily hooked in because you're really infectious.
Tomas H: You know, it's always been a thing for us that we want to be contemporary; we want you to listen to the record and think that it was made this year. That's important for us. But it's also very important that you listen to the album and think that it doesn't sound like any other band. I think it's so embarrassing when you hear a band that might have come from thirty years ago, ten years ago or whenever. I think it's kind of stupid because we use a lot of old references but we also use new stuff. We always try to capture something fresh that you don't hear anywhere else. And with the Oompa Loompa thing, when you are 20 years old you are too afraid to be Oompa Loompa! I know it's a strange way of saying it - you brought it up! - but we're not afraid of that!
Can you guys attempt to define yourselves? In terms of your music and where you're going at this stage as a band?
Tomas H: We're just releasing this album. But creatively, we are actually in our minds, on the way to making the third album. We've done the sowing and now, we reap.
TomBoy: So it's exciting to see how big the harvest is and we're just waiting to see how many gigs and what our reviews are going to be like.
Tomas H: We made the first album very quickly. You've probably heard this - we had this one evening making 3 songs. We sent it to Gomma. We got the deal. And it was all very fast actually. This time around, it was very important for us not to do the same album again. So we tried so many different things. We wanted to seek the limits of where we could go. A side effect of all this is that now we know even more about what the core of WhoMadeWho is; what our sound is. And I think the time for the next album would be for making a more straight up disco album maybe. I don't know? So we're very happy about this album and looking so much forward to do the next.
Any closing words?
Tomas H: Buy the album! It's a killer!
THE PLOT by WHOMADEWHO is out on GOMMA RECORDS on the 23rd of MARCH 2009
ps. big thanks and a kiss to Leon who transcribed my interview x