Ima Robot Eyes Duran Duran Gigs, Studio Return
Despite being offered a chance to tour with Duran Duran through April, Ima Robot will instead play a handful of dates with the reunited new wave act before returning to the studio to record its sophomDespite being offered a chance to tour with Duran Duran through April, Ima Robot will instead play a handful of dates with the reunited new wave act before returning to the studio to record its sophomore album. The group will open its third show for Duran Duran tonight (March 1) in Sacramento, Calif., and will be out through a March 12 date in Salt Lake City.
The Los Angeles-based Ima Robot has more than 100 songs written and in consideration for the as-yet-untitled follow-up to its self-titled 2003 Virgin debut. "It's just kind of a non-stop flurry of songwriting, so we're kind of actually getting slightly confused with too many songs," singer/songwriter Alex Ebert tells Billboard.com with a laugh. "But it's really fun and I think the songs keep getting better and better and I keep having more to say, so why not?"
Several of the new songs are being tested during this trip. "There's a song called 'Voodoo Love' we're playing live -- that one's fantastic," he says. "There's another one called 'Disconnect,' that one's really good as well."
Another track named "Alien" needs to be reworked, according to Ebert, while other contenders may not see the light of day again. If all goes to plan, the set will be released in the fall and preceded by a North American tour.
"We generally find that when songs just kind of pour out of us, when we're being mediums, that's when the best stuff happens," he explains. "When you're kind of trying to sit there and kind of mathematically fix everything and you're not inspired, you might end up with something decent, but it's just kind of an obnoxious process."
The five-piece will have a different makeup when it starts recording. Newly joined is former Junior Senior bassist Filip Nikolic on keyboards and guitar, who takes over for the recently exited Oliver Goldstein.
"Ollie was with us almost from the beginning, but it was always a little bit of a pulling teeth scenario with him," Ebert explains. "But we loved him so much and he was so ridiculously talented that we just tried to make things work."
Describing Nikolic as "a total wizard on keyboards and guitar," Ebert says the band -- rounded out by drummer Scott Devours, guitarist "Timmy the Terror" Anderson and bassist Justin Meldal-Johnsen -- is surprised he fits so well. "It's actually kind of amazing because we really did think that no one was going to be able to replace Ollie and satisfy us because he was such a kind of all around MVP," he says. "But then along comes Filip and he shocked us."
Although received well critically, "Ima Robot" didn't find a big audience in the United States, where it has sold just 43,000 copies. Ebert admits there's a lot of pressure to succeed this time around, but even with a shaky track record he says the band has received nothing but positive support from Virgin.
"You know, it's funny, man," he says. "Our label is so on our side -- it's such a warm feeling over there. Like, I'm shocked that they didn't drop us, but I'm shocked at how much they love us."
Here are Ima Robot's dates with Duran Duran:
March 1: Sacramento, Calif. (Memorial Auditorium)
March 2: San Jose (HP Pavilion)
March 4: Vancouver (General Motors Place)
March 5: Spokane, Wash. (Spokane Opera House)
March 7: Calgary, Alberta (Saddledome)
March 8: Kelowna, British Columbia (Prospera Place)
March 9: Seattle (Everett Center)
March 10: Portland, Ore. (Rose Garden)
March 12: Salt Lake City (Delta Center)