Feeling like you want to hug your pals and stay up until dawn? That’s probably because LCD Soundsystem released their stellar, self-titled debut album 15 years ago today on January 24, 2005. Since then the band, led by DFA Records founder James Murphy, have released three more albums, broken up, got back together and become one of the most influential bands of this century.
To celebrate such a momentous day in indie punk dance party history we’ve taken a dive into the NME Archives, to when former Features Editor Malik Meer interviewed James Murphy in New York a few months before ‘LCD Soundsystem’ was released.
This article was first published in NME on 20 November, 2004.
Inside this man’s head is the sound of next year
Two years before Franz Ferdinand unveiled their manifesto to “make girls dance,” James Murphy and Tim Goldsworthy, aka New York production duo DFA, crashlanded onto the hipster dancefloors with the blueprint. Firstly with the tryhard-baiting ‘Losing My Edge’ by Murphy’s side project LCD Soundsystem and then as the men behind The Rapture’s ‘House Of Jealous Lovers’. Since then the indie Neptunes have remixed the real Neptunes, told countless pop acts to sod off and seen their disco-punk formula inspire the likes of Franz, Kasabian and Bloc Party. Now, with LCD’s debut finally ready and set to become the first must-own record of 2005, NME checked in to see how James Murphy manages to stay ahead and keep his cool.
James Murphy: “I really don’t have to worry about trying to be cool because it doesn’t last. All I can do is go with what I know works. The words ‘cool’ and ‘good’ are very different. It can be somebody’s way of saying good but it also means what’s hip, what the kids are into these days. And I know I have to be very careful over the difference between the two, because it’s my life. Like, I’ve been cool and that had nothing to do with being good. Getting flown to DJ at some fashion show in Milan is everything to do with cool, it’s nothing to do with good. So you can’t be soft about the definition.”
Don’t sell people out
“If you believe the hype you sell yourself out. Not ‘sell out’ in the conventional sense, I mean you’ll release something that’s not good enough. Tim (Goldsworthy, DFA partner) and I, we love music and we’ve been disappointed by bands that we love because they exposed themselves as idiots. They just love being cool and when they’re not cool, for a minute they do some desperate things. I read an interview with (The Cure’s) Robert Smith and someone was like, ‘Aren’t you going to cut the hair? Isn’t it about time to stop the hair and make-up?’ and he’s like, ‘There are kids that have been wearing this since the mid-‘80s that are fans and I’ll never make them look stupid. I’ll never make them feel betrayed.’ That’s one of the coolest things I’ve heard. That’s somebody who’s got a sense of why they are there. Unlike Metallica. Look at them now, they’ve all got their smart haircuts, wear shiny jackets and look ridiculous.”
Do it like the mullet-wearing Lou Reed
“Lou Reed has just never given a fuck. He wore a mullet for a good 15 years and played stupid guitars and no-one’s even gonna try and make fun of him ‘cos he wrote ‘Walk On The Wild Side’.
“I read the best interview with him where he was talking about the time after ‘Rock’n’Roll Animal’ – when he’d got really skinny and had platinum hair and big sunglasses – where he said, ‘I’d been reading about this guy called Lou Reed who was the coolest guy in the world and I thought it’d be a really great role to play.’ And so he experimented with being Lou Reed. I think that must be so much more fun than being apologetically a man of the people like McCartney or being obsessively worried about being cool like Bowie. He probably has a better day-to-day life than either of those people. He could just get up in the middle of an interview and pee into his salad, walk out and then do an advertisement for deodorant.”
When performing “play your fucking heads off”
“I look at most live bands today and they are so horrible. If I played in most of the bands I see, I wouldn’t go onstage. It’s posed and fake, like nothing’s at stake. You see two kinds of bands: bands that can’t play and bands that never make mistakes. I’m interested in neither. When you go and see a big band and it’s like, ‘Wow, what a mistake-less full-frequency experience.’ With LCD Soundsystem, it could go horribly wrong, and it always feels like that. Sometimes you just forget the parts. But everyone plays their fucking heads off. If you watch Led Zeppelin playing in ’71, there’s no monitors, Robert Plant hears his voice through the house so everyone in the audience and onstage hears the exact same thing… and they play together incredibly well because of it.”
Don’t ass-kick the rich and famous
“We get offers to work with people all the time. It doesn’t seem that interesting at this point. I don’t wanna meet famous people, really. I usually don’t like them, I don’t like what they do and if you meet them then they’re nice and then they’re you’re friend. They say something nice like, ‘Oh, I liked ‘Losing My Edge’,’ and I wanna believe they don’t know my stuff. We tried to work with Britney and spoke to Janet Jackson; she seemed sincere, very Famous Person Nice. You know, ‘Hi, my name’s Janet Jackson.’ She was like ‘Speak to my manager,’ but we never called her back. I just made my record instead. That just seemed like the right thing to do.”