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Electric Guest – Splendour in the Grass 2012 Interviews

Written by Marc Zanotti on May 4, 2012

In the realm of rock ‘n’ roll and all things music there exists a fantasy of one day hearing the phone ring and discovering some industry big-shot on the other end eager to make all your dreams come true. Well for United States duo Electric Guest that fantasy came true, sort of…

While in college, lead vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Asa Taccone was making one of his routine calls to his older brother Jorma (of Lonely Island fame) when it just so happened that another talented musician was also in the room.

“I would call my brother when I was in college and play him my little songs over the phone. One day he said, ‘I want you to play it for a friend of mine who’s over at my house’, and he put Brian (Burton aka Danger Mouse) on the phone, and this was a long time ago — this was before The Grey Album or anything like that – but he put him on the phone and I played him some stuff and he was like, ‘I like that, I like that, that’s cool, you should play me more stuff’, and so I sent him more stuff over the years,” Taccone recalls.

“So he mentored me for a bunch of years and we passed music back and forth between us. And then one day he just asked to do an album.”

The album was Electric Guest’s brand new debut record Mondo.

By the time Taccone and Burton began recording Mondo, the two musicians had formed a solid friendship. For his part, the usually reserved Danger Mouse detailed his experiences and enjoyment on working with Taccone via a letter posted by Rolling Stone. Once in the studio, Taccone marvelled at Burton’s creative prowess.

“Actually it was funny because when you know someone like … especially like we (Taccone & Burton) had done bits of music here and there, just little tiny things that never saw the light of day, but that was the first time we had ever really gotten in the studio. It was kind of strange, it was just impressive because you’re friends with somebody and you think you kind of know all sides of them, and then to see him work and the specific skill set that I think he has is pretty unique.”

“He has this weird state in the hypothetical in a way where you’re just totally lost in a record, you work on it for weeks and he knows which way to push forward. He’s quite a talented dude; it was awesome.”

At this stage Taccone had also met his musical counterpart in Matthew Compton. A drummer and fellow multi-instrumentalist, Compton became the other half of Electric Guest. The two instantly bonded and began writing music together, sharing a preference for playing live instruments as opposed to constructing sound through a computer, which makes the electronic elements of Mondo all the more impressive.

“There’s virtually nothing on there, a lot is surprisingly organic… In my own personal exploration, the more elements you add that are inorganic, for me, it really takes away the human experience of it,” Taccone declares.

“There are people who are amazing at synthetic music, they don’t have to pick up an instrument… I think for us it just works better to have it be played… On a couple of the tracks the drums are programed, for the most part it is playing, and I think that we really wanted to keep that feel.”

In the lead-up to Mondo’s release, Electric Guest released two singles: This Head I Hold and American Daydream, the latter of which boasts a very distinctive vocal that comes across as both warm and sinister.

“I borrowed a microphone… I don’t know if it’s Brians or Matts, but I have some really shitty microphone and I just recorded those (the vocals) in my room… The chorus vocals are me, Matt and our two friends…they were just kind of drunk one night and I had them sing the chorus.”

“I thought it was just going to be a scratch vocal when I took it in the next day, then I was like, ‘Oh I love the way it sounds’… I guess it just had a lo-fi feel.”

The accompanying video for American Daydream is as equally appealing as the single itself. The clip features Taccone attending parties only to seemingly attack fellow attendees at random. The music video plays as humorously dark and strangely relatable, giving the appearance of an emerging act that has something to say without being heavy handed.

“I think I just wanted to do something that was … because the song to me is so obvious lyrically, like it’s not some deep subtle thing…I just wanted to make sure that, although I wanted the sentiment to be the tone of the song, I didn’t want it to be preachy in any way, and that’s why I wanted to have a ridiculous element to it,” Taccone explains.

Watch: Electric Guest – American Daydream

Watch – Electric Guest – This Head I Hold

Electric Guest Australian Tour Dates

Fri, 27 Jul Splendour In The Grass: SOLD OUT – Belongil Fields
Tue, 31 Jul Electric Guest – Oxford Art Factory
Wed, 1 Aug Electric Guest – Northcote Social Club

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