"I think there’s a bit more of everything, it’s not so minimal.... I got most of the 90s rave stuff out of my system." hmv.com talks to Shit Robot
With his second album We Got A Love out next week on DFA Records, we caught up with Marcus Lambkin - a.k.a. Shit Robot - to talk about the new record, working with Reggie watts and America's 'EDM' scene.
So, the sophomore album is out next week, how are you feeling about it?
"Yeah, pretty good I’d say, I’m in a pretty good spot with it. I’ve done all the work, it’s been done for a while now, the first few reviews that have come in have been pretty positive so…y’know, it’s out of my hands at this point, no point worrying about it any more!"
How long were you working on it?
"Well, it wasn’t one of those ‘okay, I’m gonna block off three months and bang it out’ sort of things. I worked on it for about two years, on and off… maybe a little bit longer. When I finished the last album I went on tour for about a year or so, and then I started working on a couple of things. I made a couple of songs that came out early last year and that was me just sort of making 12”s, then it was like ‘alright, this has to go on the album’."
What else have you been up to in the 4 years since From the Cradle to the Rave?
"I did the touring and live shows for about a year and a half and then we had another baby, so since then it’s been pretty much family, babies and trying to get in the studio whenever I can! Whenever I get a free minute!"
Has there been any input from James Murphy on the new record?
"It’s pretty much all me, James has been fairly busy so I’ve been left to my own devices on this one. He did give me a little bit of advice on a couple of tracks here and there, and he played some stuff on ‘Do That Dance’, but other than that I was pretty much on my own this time, which is kind of a good thing in the end, I have to say. It was very daunting to me at first but it made me work that bit harder and it’s a bit more rewarding when you have to work it out yourself."
So do you think you’ve hit your stride with this record?
"Yeah, definitely. That first record was kind of terrifying in some ways… James really helped me out a lot with that record. With this one, I learned a lot from the first record and I learned to utilise my friends and stuff… that it’s not bad to ask them to come and play on your record. I used to feel that because I’m friends with James and Juan (McLean) and I watched them work, learned from them…I mean they can do everything, play everything…and I always felt that I needed to do that myself, but you don’t really. I learned there’s nothing wrong with asking your friend who can play keyboards to come in and play better than I can, instead of sitting there for six months banging your head against the wall trying to get this part or that part to work. I’ve got lots of talented friends so this time it was ‘Hey want to come and play on this?’ and they’d go ‘Yep’, so it’s made life a lot easier!"
You’ve got Reggie Watts on a couple of tracks on the record, how did that come about and what’s he like to work with?
"I met him at the LCD Soundsystem final show in Madison Square Garden, Reggie performed at that and also we did like a week of shows beforehand at Terminal 5. So that’s basically how I met him, just hanging out together at those shows. So he was someone that was already in the back of my mind but I didn’t know he could sing like that…it’s amazing! I mean, I saw him sing at Madison Square Garden but I really didn’t expect him to do what he did on my record. He was a total pro, he went in the studio and did six takes of everything and he just winged it, he didn’t repeat anything, ever, he just turned on the mic and went for it, he’s incredible!"
How do you think this record moves on from the last album?
"I think there’s a bit more of everything, it’s not so minimal. There’s more percussion, it sounds a bit more like a band at times. I sort of steered a little bit away from the old school rave thing, although there is a little of that in there too. I feel like the first record was the product of twelve, thirteen years of inspiration, going out clubbing, and you try and squeeze all that in there. I got most of the 90s rave stuff out of my system and you want to progress a little bit but those are still my influences, it still needed to be a Shit Robot record."
You’ve mentioned before in interviews that you don’t really like doing live shows, is that still the case or can we expect a tour with this album?
"There will be live shows but I don’t plan on going on the road for three months or whatever and doing the ‘album two’ tour. I’ve been sort of trying to avoid that because it’s a just a bit of a nightmare in general anyway, but I’ve got two kids so if I’m playing live I like to try and do the shows at the weekends. I’ve seen so many people lose money and unless you’re one of those big names it’s just not really a feasible way to work any more I don’t think.
I’m very self-conscious about it and I always sort of resisted the live thing because I thought ‘there’s no way I’ll be able to reproduce the album on stage, and even if I did have a band all the vocals would be different’, so I tried to create something else, this audio-visual show."
You’ve obviously been DJ-ing for a while now and you’ve probably seen a few trends come and go, what’s your take on America’s ‘EDM’ scene?
"Hahaha! Er, I mean musically it’s not really my bag, but it’s also great because I’ve noticed that there’s more venues, more gigs, more money going around. It makes it a lot easier for me to go and play over there. I don’t really like these ultra-festivals and some are them are really shockingly awful, but again if that’s going to introduce a pile of kids to dance music that normally wouldn’t have got to see or hear it then that’s great. It’s opened doors and unlike Europe where everybody goes clubbing, in the States it’s different. In Europe you’ll have a death metal guy but at some point they’ll have been in a club, but there all the people into rock music would never have gone to a club to hear dance music before, so hopefully that’s changing now."
Do you go back to DJ in Ireland much?
"Yeah, I’m in Ireland right now! I just played in Cork on Saturday, it was fantastic. I love playing in Ireland, there’s a great dance scene here and people really know their stuff."
Are there any particular DJs that have been a big influence on the new record, or your music in general?
"Well, the big one for me is Andy Weatherall, he was my hero from back in the day, y’know? He’s been a big influence since day one."
What’s your favourite record to drop in the clubs right now?
"There’s this guy called Konstantin Sibold, he’s from Stuttgart. He’s this young guy, he’s just done a remix for me for the new single ‘Do That Dance’ with Nancy Whang, and his stuff is amazing. He’s done a couple of 12”s but he hasn’t got that much stuff out yet, but he’s my tip for the top this guy. He’s done a track called ‘Madeline’ which is great, and I know that this sounds like I’m plugging my own record but my big jam right now is the remix he did for me, that has been killing it everywhere. He sent me a rough version a few weeks ago and I’ve literally been playing it non-stop, it’s the highlight of my set, I’ve been building up to it and then playing it from the top. I’m really excited and it’s pretty awesome, there’s no better feeling than when one the big tunes of the night is one of your own! Well, it’s not really mine but I’m still like ’this is great, this is really encouraging!’."
We Got A Love is out on Monday March 17