Chromeo: Renegades Of Funk

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

“If we’re playing the songs, just the two of us and we’re actually liking it, that’s a good indicator of how catchy the song is, with its bare bones,” says P-Thugg.

“I feel like with this record we’re making a more indie or alternative record,” says Dave 1. “It’s not as clubby, but then that’s why the first few songs are still dance-y – we wanted the record to be like that.”

“When I sent the final order of songs to P, I was like, let’s start the album with the really big in-your-face funk tracks and then have the long synth jam in the middle and then the second half is more of the ballad-y and the smoother stuff and then we end with the Billy Joel kind of number [‘Grow Up’], which is a whole side of the ‘80s that is as untouched as ‘80s black music was when we first started. The ‘80s rockabilly, the ‘80s doo-wop.”

“When we started to collect records and started exploring this kind of music,” says Dave 1, “we were just hip-hop fans that were basically discovering Zapp and Parliament and Bootsy [Collins] through Snoop and through Dr. Dre and through Warren G.”

“Even older stuff like EPMD, De La Soul – I remember the first time I heard [Funkadelic’s] ‘Knee Deep,’ I was like, ‘This is the De La Soul song [‘Me, Myself and I’] flipped around.’” says P-Thugg. “I really got into it.”

“Down to Bob James[‘s music] that we knew through Run DMC, and David Axelrod[‘s music] that we knew when it got reissued because of all the hip-hip producers that were sampling them. That’s how we did it,” says P-Thugg. “The thing about it is that we had a funk-meets-hip-hop live band in high school – that’s a sign of the times – and then we went on to produce hip-hop ‘cause we had all these records…It was very serious. We had a label [Audio Research] that was distributed by [legendary New York City hip hop retailer/distributor] Fat Beats and I was a really dedicated, purist hip-hop producer.”

And with that Julian returns and our attention shifts to the real reason we’re all standing in Third Man to begin with: record shopping. The conversation turns to colored vinyl, limited editions, hidden tracks on locked grooves and all of the other collector-bait that Third Man Records specialize in when they’re not releasing White’s other bands like the Raconteurs and The Dead Weather. There’s talk of visiting United Record Pressing, but soundcheck beckons and we head toward the club.

***

Back at the Cannery that night, a thousand sweaty people pour through the doors out into the perfect late-summer night, perspiration condensing on their skin as the cool air hits their over-heated bodies. There are a lot of Holy shits, Oh my Gods, and Whoa, that was motherfucking amazings drifting through the air, uttered by revelers trying to collect their melted faces. Cannery manager Mischke is lamenting the fact that – unless something goes horribly wrong – this will be the last time that Chromeo can play at the Cannery. One appearance and it’s obvious that Chromeo owns this market – next time they’ll have to play a much bigger room.

This sentiment is echoed by the crowd waiting to get into the after-party at the Cannery’s smaller sister club the Mercy Lounge. They’re already tallying the cool points they’ve acquired just for showing up and they’re already bragging about their new bragging rights. They’re also excited about hearing their favorite band’s favorite band – Hall & Oates – get the tribute show treatment. On the stairs, at the bar, even in the bathroom, rumors are swirling around that Chromeo might come to the show. Everyone in the room is abuzz with the possibility, but these sorts of rumors often float around Nashville.

What they don’t know is that it’s not just a possibility. We had planned to meet up and talk more, but the minute Dave 1 walked up the stairs to Mercy, it was pretty evident that a sit down was out of the question. There were hundreds of people that wanted to talk to them, just to say hi, get their picture taken, or maybe just stand in their presence. P-Thugg and Dave 1 are the kind of guys that will indulge every single one of them, making girls squeal with delight and make dudes that think they’re cool feel that much cooler.

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