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Cover Story: Who Made Who

Written by Amelia Schmidt on March 31, 2009

Who Made Who are from Denmark and wear skeleton suits when they play their guitars with champagne bottles on while audiences dance on stage. Make of that what you will, they’ve remixed Hot Chip and been covered by Queens of the Stone Age. They also have some pretty rad facial hair, so Music Feeds remarked casually on its moustachioed glory. “Well thank you,” Tomas responds. “I had it for fun around 2001, because I was with a friend, and we were joking around. But then I kept it on the upper lip, as that seems to be a strong area for me. Then when I came home I was really interested to see how my girlfriend would react, and she was like, ‘this is nice, you should keep it’ so I just kept it. For me I think it completes my face, if I don’t have it I look like a little kid. I’m a little afraid if I shave it people wont know who I am.”

With that out of the way, it is time to get down to the business of the strangeness that is the music of Who Made Who. Starting off long ago as a jazz guitarist and bluegrass musician, it’s an interesting story as to how Who Made Who came in to existence. “I’ve always been very interested in all types of music,” Tomas explains. “I studied music at the Conservatorium in Copenhagen, studied rhythm, so before we were doing Who Made Who I was doing practically all kinds of rhythm music possible, because I just wanted to learn about music. Then when I met Tomas the drummer, he was doing house and more techno stuff, and I thought it was kind of inspiring, the whole concept of DJs, the crowd interaction – I thought it could be more fun than the indie rock scene.”

As for crowd interaction, Who Made Who have it down pat. “When you play the same song more then five times you being to develop new ideas, mix it up,” says Tomas. The champagne-bottle antic has become a bit of a staple, and he says, “I’ve used other stuff, a can, a microphone stand. So the first time I did it, I probably just needed the bottle head, but now it has become a bit of a gimmick you know. We don’t always pull people up on stage, but we did it twice in Australia. When we played in Melbourne, people ended up dancing on our instruments. We broke our rental guitar in Melbourne – the Who used to smash their instruments, but we don’t do it on purpose.”

What lovely boys. Careful and considerate, as well as prone to dressing in skeleton suits. “That sort of just happened coincidentally, I think we thought it could be fun, not to look like a classic indie band with tight black jeans and black shirts, so the idea was to look a little different. Then we played an MTV concert in London and this dude gave us the skeleton clothes and we thought it could be cool. We did lots of different experiments; we even tried just playing in underwear.”

An interesting part of the Who Made Who experience is comparing live performances of songs to recorded ones. Rather than just a couple of different notes or vocal twangs, the difference is quite noticeable and obviously intentional. In his slightly broken English, Tomas explains that in a way, it has to do with the time of day. “The live is much more ‘rave; then the albums; it’s much more energetic. But it’s also because when I buy a record I like to be able to listen to it at home, even at two in the afternoon, so for us when we do the albums we make it a little bit more mellow, more deep, so when we play live and it’s normally late at night, we just go full on, let loose.”

Time of day comes seems to be important not only in performance but also in writing. “It is quite hard to write on tour,” Tomas thinks. “So even though we had the intention of recording on tour, we didn’t end up doing that many. We tried to, but most of the stuff was done after midnight. We just tried to do it when we had the time off, but it is very hard, and other bands have told us they bring their recording gear and never use it.”

But as for the outcome, the new album Plot should have audiences up and dancing as much as ever before, if not more. Tomas tells us that “[Audiences] can expect blissful disco music with funky beats, classic bass lines, more vocal emphasis than the first album, better production. It is a little but more minimal, more rock, it is going further into different directions. I think it is quite eclectic.” Eclectic is probably a good word for Who Made Who in general – I mean, with that kind of moustache, what else would you expect?

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