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Friday, December 19, 2008

Hercules and Love Affair interview

ANDY BUTLER, THE MAN BEHIND HERCULES AND LOVE AFFAIR TALKS TO ROB TOWNSEND ABOUT HIS BAND’S APPEARANCE AT THE NEVEREVERLAND FESTIVAL

“I’m expecting good things.”

In the three decades since his birth, New York-based DJ, Andy Butler, has never been to Australia. However, while the man behind dance act Hercules and Love Affair may not yet have ventured this way, he has been keeping a keen eye on the scene on this side of the globe, and is therefore looking forward to finally making it here for an appearance at the Nevereverland Festival. “I’m a fan of certain Australian bands from my youth and I know there’s a healthy, driving music culture there and that dance music is pretty popular. So, I’m excited.”

While Hercules and Love Affair is Butler’s baby, it is something of a collaborative effort. With the band being on the legendary DFA label, LCD Soundsystem’s Tim Murphy is heavily involved, while other artists who have leant their support to Butler’s project include !!!’s Tyler Pope and Antony Hegarty of Antony and The Johnsons. While Hegarty’s dazzling, haunting vocal appears across the album, it won’t be on display in Sydney. “Obviously Antony Hegarty is not touring with us,” Butler confirms. “He has a new album coming out in January and so is touring at the moment in Europe and doing press stuff.” However, even without the distinctive figure of Hegarty, the stage will still be brimming with activity at Nevereverland. “We have an eight-piece ensemble,” Butler beams. “We have a little horn section with a trumpet and a trombone player. It’s a big group.”Within this impressively-sized collective, Butler boasts two singers who, as well as performing lead vocals on other tracks, happily fill Hegarty’s shoes: Hawaii-born San Franciscan, Kim Ann Foxman, and sultry New Yorker, Nomi. “We’ve done hundreds of shows at this point and they’ve been singing those songs for the past six months,” Butler shrugs when I ask him about the difficulties of deputising for Hegarty in his absence. “Antony gave us his blessing and encouraged the girls to take his parts.”

Butler’s band is certain to bring a disco flavour to Nevereverland, but their sound is far from a straightforward cut-and-paste of the seventies dance scene. In fact, it is born out of his eclectic musical background. At age 12 he was composing modern classical pieces on the family piano when he heard the 1980’s Yazoo b-side Situation. And so began a love affair with electronic music. “I’m influenced by any sort of music that resonates. I became very interested in disco music as a teenager but I also went to school and studied minimalist composition, started listening to singer/songwriters and also started paying attention to new-wave music. So there’s more to it than just one particular sound or another.” His taste may be diverse, but there is no denying that disco holds the most prominent place in Butler’s musical heart. “The genre or style is very colourful. Disco music, for me at least, has some of the highest levels of musicianship – wonderful levels of emotion and drama. I find disco to be very exciting and not the sort of throwaway music that for a long time it was treated as.”With Butler having a celebrated history in DJing in supercool New York gay clubs, I wonder whether performing at festivals still feels alien to him. While his band has been on the bill of many a festival during its recent European tour, I ask if he prefers playing in smaller venues. “I like both. Festivals can be really fun experiences because you can reach a very diverse audience that you might not normally reach. It’s a challenge because there are people from all different backgrounds and it’s up to you to bring them together and create an energy and a vibe. At a club date everyone comes knowing what to expect and they are already bringing their own bit of the party.”

With the Modular-heavy Nevereverland Festival being predominantly filled with dance acts, there are plenty of bands that Butler hopes to check out, time permitting. “It depends on how gruelling the tour schedule is,” he says through a yawn that suggests the tour has indeed been pretty exhausting to this point. “It’s fun when you have some time and you can be a festival-goer for a little bit, but often we find we have got to pack up and put ourselves on the road to the next gig. The bands [at Nevereverland] are up my alley though, and it makes more sense in terms of a line-up than a lot of festivals we’ve played. Musically it will be very interesting.”

1 comment:

Rhys said...

James Murphy Bobby not Tim me old mucker, did you go to Adam Green? Bought Tix forgot to go!? What a twat.