Since Hot Chip's last album, "One Life Stand" in 2010, Alexis Taylor has released an album and toured with improvisational four-piece About Group; Joe Goddard put out a solo EP on DFA and continued to make jaunty house music with the 2 Bears; and Al Doyle and Felix Martin released some tracks as New Build. (Hot Chip is rounded out by multi-instrumentalist Owen Clarke.) Typically, when every member of a band is engaged in some sort of side project, the destiny of the original group is in question. But that's not the case for the U.K. dance-rock outfit. According to Taylor, after 12 years and four albums, there was never a doubt that there would be another Hot Chip record.
"I would like Hot Chip to carry on. I don't see the side projects as a threat to it. The others don't either," says Taylor, who formed the act with Goddard in 2000. (Doyle, Martin and Clarke joined in 2003.) "I've had more years in my life being in the band than not being in it. It's a unique thing what we're doing. We get pleasure from it. I don't want that to disappear for the sake of band members doing other things."
Working around the members' collaboration schedules, the band's fifth album, In Our Heads (arriving June 12 on Domino), was recorded efficiently-"a track on one day, mixing the second day and moving on," Taylor says-in six weeks. The result is a cohesive collection that sounds focused, not rushed, with the band's usual wide swath of influences: There are echoes of Diana Ross in "Ends of the Earth," "Look at Where We Are" gets into a little nerdy bump and grind, and "These Chains" feels rooted in a Maya Jane Coles-esque minimal techno style.
"In Our Heads" is the act's first release for new label Domino, after amicably splitting from EMI (Astralwerks in the United States) last year. "We negotiated a way out of the deal, so all credit to EMI in the U.K. for the way that was handled," says manager Nick Dewey of Fleet River. "But it was time to move on, and Domino was the natural home for the band. It's a great label run by people who really love music and get what they do."
"It definitely feels right," Domino GM Kris Gillespie says of the new relationship. Gillespie also observes that the current electronic dance music explosion could benefit the band. "Hot Chip's ability to both craft really catchy dance-informed music in a variety of stripes and at the same time be an incredible live act is an intriguing proposition," he says.
The Hot Chip story has never been about music sales. Over four full-length releases, the group has sold just 178,000 albums in the United States and 368,000 tracks, according to Nielsen SoundScan. But the band puts on a sonically diverse, textured show that's planned to expand for the "In Our Heads" tour, which begins June 15 in London and heads stateside in July. The touring band now also includes drummer Sarah Jones and multi-instrumentalist Rob Smoughton. "We've felt for years that there were more percussion parts than we have enough people to do," Taylor says. But that doesn't mean the sound will necessarily be bigger-just more nuanced.
"[Adding members] is a danger in a way; it could be bigger, louder, more bombastic. But we're trying to keep moments in the set that go in the opposite direction," Taylor says. "We've been playing a cover of [Prince's] 'If I Was Your Girlfriend': It's a quiet moment in the set, but everyone's playing on it. We're trying to learn how to do that well-play what is necessary and no more than that."