Hours before speaking with DiscoverSD, Hot Chip multi-instrumentalist Owen Clarke was holed up in a German bathroom. He wasn’t sick or anything, just finishing up some last-minute radio spots. And in Berlin’s Schönefeld Airport, it was the only semi-private place available.
“We ended up doing them in the disabled toilets,” Clarke said from a Chicago hotel room before Hot Chip’s Lollapalooza appearance. “It was the only quiet place around. The hand dryer kept going off and there were announcements for flights, but they got done.”
Such is the life of a musician on the summer festival circuit. But it’s also business as usual for the London-based synthpop septet. Ahead of Lollapalooza, Hot Chip made their way across Europe with festival stops that included Glastonbury, Montreaux and Roskilde.
While the band is far from wrapping up appearances on the big stages, they are looking forward to adding a solid run of headlining solo shows into the mix.
“Festivals have a certain kind of spontaneity,” Clarke said. “You just never know how it’s going to turn out. It usually turns out very well, but there is a different kind of energy and anticipation to your own shows. People are only there to see you, and you’re enclosed with all of these like-minded people. It’s set up to go off.”
Hot Chip’s sixth studio album, “Why Make Sense?,” was released in May. With so much time spent playing truncated festival sets, Clarke knows the new dates will let the band expand their performances and play more new music.
“We’re a seven-piece band,” he said. “We can’t do too much improvisation without treading on one another’s toes. But with the solo shows, we can change things around and throw in a few of the slower songs. And that’s always a good thing. To really optimize people’s energy and dancing, it’s better to have a few lulls as well. Dancing your ass off is great fun. But everyone needs to take a breather.”
Everyone, that is, except Hot Chip. The indie dance mob won’t get much of a break this year. After their current North American swing, the band finishes out the year with even more dates in Europe and South America. That doesn’t leave much room for making new music. But according to Clarke, it isn’t entirely off their radar, either.
“Things are fairly full-on with touring at the moment,” he said. “And we’re all still really enjoying the new songs. As far as new recording is concerned, I don’t know. But we are always looking toward the next thing - and very excited about where we’re headed.”
Hot Chip plays Observatory North Park on Aug. 12. YACHT opens the show.
Scott McDonald is a writer, on-air personality and consultant with 15 years of experience in the San Diego music scene. He has interviewed hundreds of artists, from the legendary to the underground, for print and television. Follow McDonald and his melodic musings on Twitter @eight24_ or Instagram @scotteight24. Send your music musts to firstname.lastname@example.org.