Death In Vegas
Emerging from the recently revitalized London club scene, Death In Vegas’ debut album, Dead Elvis , was released in 1997. One of the most intriguing albums of that year, Dead Elvis showcased a fusion of musical elements ranging from New York art school bands and dub reggae to hip-hop, techno, and defiantly, even rock. The Chemical Brothers exposed DIV to the masses during their 1997 world tour. To great surprise, DIV’s live show featured real instrumentation, real guitars, and live vocals (courtesy of Rankin’ Roger).
Their latest album, The Contino Sessions , features the return of graphic artist/club DJ Richard Fearless, along with new partner Tim Holmes (who engineered and mixed most of Dead Elvis ). This album will certainly surpass even their most avid fan’s expectations, as it did mine. The Contino Sessions takes its listeners on a tripped out and often dark journey through manipulated guitar noise, thick bass lines, sluggish beats, and atmospheric vocals, and pays a respectable tribute to such important influences as My Bloody Valentine, The Velvet Underground, Primal Scream and Spiritualized. I caught up with Tim Holmes during the band’s recent whirlwind American tour.
I liked Dead Elvis , but I think The Contino Sessions is a much deeper and more significant piece of work.
Yeah, certainly, it is a much more personal record and a more heartfelt record.
This record is very diverse musically, and I find it difficult to describe to those who haven’t heard it. How would you describe it to them?
I think if you can’t describe it, then sometimes that’s a good thing. We’re quite careful not to get pigeonholed into any particular musical bracket or genre. I would describe it as modern day electronic soul music. It’s from the soul.
The album features some great vocal cameos, including the Jesus & Mary Chain’s Jim Reid, Primal Scream’s Bobby Gillespie, and Iggy Pop. How did the process work, any interesting stories?
We wrote the music for those songs specifically for those artists, and hoped they would be willing to write the lyrics and do the vocals. We wrote “Aisha” especially for Iggy Pop, and sent him the tape in hopes that he would do it. We didn’t hear from him for months, then he just phoned us up, and said he was ready to do it. We immediately flew to New York and met Iggy at Electric Ladyland Studios. That was pretty cool.
What took him so long?
I didn’t ask, but I did later read an interview in NME where he was asked to comment about doing the track and why he wrote what he wrote for us. He said when he first heard it, he didn’t really feel compelled to do anything with the song, but apparently some changes occurred in his personal life that, among other things, inspired him to write these lyrics and do the track as a spoken narrative, told in the voice of a murderer.
Who would you have asked to do the track if he had turned you down?
We would have just written a different song.
You would have just scrapped it?
Yeah. We wrote those tracks specifically for those people. I mean, before writing the songs we had a wish list, but we wouldn’t have done the tracks with anyone except the person it was written for.
Was there anyone on your wish list who didn’t do it?
There was one, Jason from Spiritualized. We don’t know if he didn’t like the song, or was just too busy at the time, but he has said he would like to work with us. We previously did a remix of a Spiritualized track, “Come Together.”
Are there other tracks from these sessions that didn’t make it onto the record?
Yeah, we had around 25 or 30 songs, but these tracks seemed to best come together as a record, and to be a complete sounding item.
Will fans have access to these other tracks in the near future?
Yeah, there is a lot of work still in progress, making changes and all. A lot of songs have been inspired from recent trips to India; kind of trippy and psychedelic, kind of hypnotic and trance inducing. It’s quite easy to do that in India.
What are the main differences you see between the London club scene and the American club scene?
I think people are a lot more open minded here, actually. London is, dare I say it, quite snobbish about its music, and a lot of people go to the clubs to be seen, not for the music. I’ve found that the further we get from London, the more I think people are into the music and not just going to the right clubs to be seen.
If you could go on a shopping spree while here in the States, what would you be looking for?
I would seek out your second hand hi-fi shops, and your second hand music shops, looking for 70’s gear for the studio.
Also, while you’re here, are you finally going to get to Las Vegas?
No, it’s not scheduled, but we’re desperate to go, we’d love to go.
Looking at your tour schedule, I see that you have a day off between L.A. and Seattle, and from L.A., it’s only a short and cheap flight from there to Las Vegas.
Really? I’m going to mention it to everyone and look into it.
Good! I can take credit for finally getting Death In Vegas to Las Vegas!
Hey, I read that Richard is actually dyslexic. Tim, are there any phobias or conditions that you have that we should know about?
Only appalling jokes. What does D.N.A. stand for?
I don’t know.
The National Association of Dyslexics.