Mike Atkinson

Interview: Dawn Watley, Black Kids

Posted in interviews, Nottingham Post by Mike A on October 24, 2008

Where are you today? According to your schedule, you should be in North Carolina.

Yeah, we’re on the tour bus right now.

It says here that you’re playing two dates tomorrow: in Baltimore and Washington DC. Was that a misprint?

Tomorrow, in one day? Maybe, maybe not! I don’t know! (Laughs)

Do you just take each day as it comes, and not worry too much?

I do. I think you have to, on this schedule.

How long is it since you’ve managed to get back to your home town in Florida?

I was home maybe a week ago, for a few days. We get to go back every now and then.

The animated video for your current single Look At Me is really entertaining. How closely were you involved?

The script was written by this Texas guy, who based it on his favourite 1980s cartoons. The video is awesome; I love it. But I don’t really feel like it’s me. You’re sitting in front of a green screen, and then all of a sudden you see this made video, and you think: oh wow, look at that helmet that I’m wearing, and there’s the car I’m driving! It’s all kind of odd, because it wasn’t there when we were making the video.

You’ve been doing a lot of work in the UK and Europe this year, as that’s where your greatest amount of success has been so far. Are you now trying to break the States?

That’s what we’re doing right now. We’re trying to get more support, by doing television shows, and lots of interviews, and just getting summer out of the way, and meeting fans and stuff like that.

You had a lot of initial love from the music bloggers in the States, back in the early days. Does that kind of “blog love” translate into a wider popularity in the quote-unquote “real world”?

I think sometimes it can make or break a band. But I’m not sure whether that happens if the band’s already big.

You must be doing a phenomenal amount of travelling this year. Is it broadening the mind, or does it become routine like any regular business travel?

I still love travelling and seeing different places. Usually I don’t get to see much when I go to the towns, so maybe one day I’ll be able to actually go and take a look at some museums and stuff.

What have been your top travel destinations?

I loved Norway when I went up there. It was beautiful and green, with the water and different kinds of boats. I don’t know, I just really enjoyed it.

Any highlights from the festival season?

My favourite thing is meeting the bands that I really love. I got to see Yeasayer probably three or four times this year.

Which acts would you say were your fellow travellers? If someone was mentioning a whole bunch of bands in a list and your name was on there, who else would you like to see in that list?

What, like people who have been travelling with us?

I’m thinking kindred spirits. People who are doing a similar sort of thing, with a similar sort of vibe.

Magistrates [an electro band from Essex]. Cut Copy, who are definitely a dance groove, party down kind of band. CSS definitely; I love them.

You recorded your album with Bernard Butler in the UK. What was he like to work with?

For me, I guess he was like a father figure. It was one of our first times in the studio, and he made me feel at home. It was really comfortable. Reggie was already a huge fan, and I knew some of his songs, and I was like: wow, we get to work with this guy!

Are the band finding time to write new material? If so, how will it be different?

We haven’t really decided what direction we want to go in. We do have some new songs, that we’ll be playing on the UK tour.

In terms of the band dynamic, how democratic are you? Is there a leader?

We’re all pretty equal. We read things that come along, and we just sit and discuss it for a while. I wouldn’t say that one of us has more say than the others.

You’re known for playing basically happy music, but you’re playing it in increasingly troubled times. Is this a good time for escapism?

I think any time is good for listening to happy music – because maybe it clears it out, I don’t know. But the music does have some underlying sexual tension, and it’s kind of like comedy. Even though it sounds happy, it might not necessarily be happy music.

When I saw you playing Nottingham in June, you all looked like you were having a great time. But if you’re touring night after night, are there ever situations where you have to manufacture the joy?

Well, that’s the thing about playing live. Even if you’ve had a shitty day, you can get up there and just let it all out. That’s my favourite thing about being in a band. I don’t get tired of playing live, ever. That’s the truth of it.

That sounds like one of the best reasons for being in a band. Every shitty day becomes a good day by the end of it.

It’s true. Especially when you have good fans out there.

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