Since releasing their breakthrough album Fancy Footwork back in 2007, the boogie-fever-enducing duo Chromeo has seen its fair share of success. They’ve enjoyed sold-out shows across the globe and die-hard followers, who move on their every note. From a fan’s perspective, it’s easy to think Dave-1 and P-Thugg – two Canadian comrades who’ve grown up building their brand of new wave, electro-based dance jams since high school – aim simply to blow up and achieve the extraordinary. However, Chromeo aims for something greater.
In an exclusive one on one with The Smoking Section’s Beware, P-Thugg takes time away from prepping the group’s upcoming North American tour to discuss his loyal fanbase, making albums like A Tribe Called Quest and eventually leaving a legacy similar to artists your mother might call the greatest of all time.
If you’ve got any sense whatsoever, set aside some time to start learning their songs now because these guys plan on sticking around for a while.
TSS: You’re exactly one week away from the first stop in your North American Night Falls tour in Dallas. What have you and Dave been doing to prep for the shows?
P-Thugg: Many things. We’ve been adding old songs. Changing some stuff, remixing some of the instrumentals for the show. And, um…a lot of other things that we can’t talk about…until you see the show.
TSS: Ah, until the curtain unveils. OK, well..correct if me if I’m wrong but this is your second full-blown US tour, right?
P-Thugg: Yeah, yeah. That’s right.
TSS: Well, what are some of the changes you’ve made this go ‘round?
P-Thugg: We’ve added more lighting. We’ll have our proverbial “lady-legs” keyboard stands. And, like I said, we’ll be changing some of our songs and, again, some of things I’d just rather not say until the show.
TSS: So, basically you’ve got done some fine-tuning and set aside some surprises. Gotcha.
What is the most difficult thing about embarking on not just a tour, but a journey like this…across the country, with your crew and all that. What’s the most difficult part about something of this magnitude?
P-Thugg: It’s the traveling, man. It’s the hardest part. I mean, if I could have a show everyday in the same place, it would be way less work. Because, the show is an hour. Performing is the fun part. You basically work for two months, for an hour and a half or two hours a night. The traveling really gets to you. Very little sleep. A lot of bus. A lot of bus bunks. A lot of hotels. You have pack up every day. Your suitcase.
And, I guess, logistically, on the other side, it’s getting one place to another. Unloading the whole show in a couple of hours. Sound-checking. When it adds up, it can make you really fucked up by the end of the tour.
TSS: Exhausted, I can imagine. We fans only get to see the fun part. Tell me the truth: do you ever get sick of Dave?
P-Thugg: Sick of Dave?
P-Thugg: Uhhhh, not more than…well, you know we’ve known each other for so long, that we’ve kind of passed that stage. It’s like, if you get sick of your brother, your mother or your sister. It depends. It’s not an option. We’re passed the stage of friendship, where it’s, ‘Oh, I don’t want to see Dave today.’ It’s, ‘there he is.’ And he probably thinks the same about me, like, ‘there he is.’
TSS: In general, he seems to be carrying most of Chromeo’s interviews, throughout the media and whatnot. Is there a reason for your Penn & Teller-esque shtick, if you will? Or is that just you – cool, calm and collect?
P-Thugg: You mean during interviews?
TSS: Yeah. You know, in Penn & Teller, the tall guy carries most of the interviews, while the small just plays it cool in the background – kind of like you.
P-Thugg: Yeah. That’s just me. It’s our personalities, man. Dave can’t shut up and I’m just in the background. I understand everything and have just as much to say, but I just…I’m just chillin’ man. I let him speak.
TSS: I always figured.
P-Thugg: Yeah. It’s not like I don’t understand what’s going on. I’m right up there with everybody. And, whatever he says, I kind of think the same anyways.
TSS: He’s just more willing to talk, so “hey, go ahead.”
P-Thugg: Oh, yeah. He’s a teacher, bro. He speaks and he likes to be in front and entertain the crowd. Because you know, when you start bumping, you have to know (each other). If you want a band to succeed, or even a a friendship or anything, a marriage, anything, you have to know when to let go and let the other person do his thing. If we were up there talking over each others’ words, I mean, egos get involved. And, we’ve known each other long enough to know how to avoid the dumb shit. You know, bands break up because they don’t really know each other well enough and then they’re put together on the road for six months and realize they hate each other. And, their egos are bigger than the rooms and there’s too many cooks. You got to know when everyone gets their turn. That’s Dave’s thing.
TSS: You guys obviously found your groove.
TSS: Are there glaring differences between touring in the US and touring overseas?
P-Thugg: It’s hard to say, man. Because with the information being accessible everywhere in the world basically, every place is becoming the same. All the DJs play the same music. All the kids know the same songs. There’s not much regionality left, you know?
TSS: Wow. You know, that’s an interesting point of view that I wouldn’t have thought of, being stuck here in the U.S.
P-Thugg: Well, there is to a certain extent. You know, every place has it’s local hero. Every place has these locals bands that they love. Certain places are known to start a certain style of music. That still exists, but I’m seeing it less and less just because everybody has access to the same information.
TSS: That makes sense. Do you have a preference, between the US and overseas?
P-Thugg: It’s hard to say, because you travel and you get to see different…the main difference would be how the crowds react in each country. I can say that in England and France and some other places, like Sweden, the fans react like in North America. And, maybe in the other places a little less known, we have to work on those markets. But, I’d say the reaction is pretty much more uniform everywhere. Europeans are a little more open to Electronic music, just historically and culturally. But, it’s pretty much the same. The favorites, you know, you don’t really have a favorite crowd. You have a favorite city, where you can eat well or dress well. Or, buy some dope clothes.
TSS: Where you’ve had good memories.
P-Thugg: That’s where you favorites come in. Like, I love Paris. I love London. I love New York, you know. But, the crowds are so…every show you’re in from city to city is the same, but the country will change regardless.
TSS: Using a lot of adjectives, what can fans expect from a typical Chromeo concert?
P-Thugg: Using a lot of adjectives?
TSS: Yeah. I’m throwing it out there, because I know you guys a known for having a way with words.
P-Thugg: They can expect smoothness. “Smoove”…with a V. Smooveness.
TSS: [Laughs] Okay.
P-Thugg: They can expect funk. They can expect dance. They can expect singalongs. And they can expect dope girls.
TSS: Good choices. Do you two have any pre-show rituals that you do, before you go on stage?
P-Thugg: Nah, not really. Well, we had a ritual for like three weeks. It was, that scene in Talladega Nights. What did they say before? They gave each other a pound and they’re like, something…
TSS: Oh, “Shake and bake.”
P-Thugg: “Shake and bake” [laughs heartily]. We did that for three weeks and we like, “This is isn’t really a ritual.”
TSS: And I know after the show, you’re itinerary consists of impregnating females, like you guys were doing in your new video for “When The Night Falls.”
P-Thugg: No, that’s during the show.
TSS: [Laughs] Oh, right.
P-Thugg: After the show, we just roll over and sleep.
TSS: Yeah, I can imagine you guys are exhausted. One more thing I wanted to touch on here too, was this “When The Night Falls” video came out to a lot of praise and the “Don’t Turn The Lights On” video was nominated for an MTV Video Music Award. How important are the visuals when it comes to you guys putting your personalities on display?
P-Thugg: It’s very, very, very important to us. It’s part of the package. We love ’70s and ’80s music, in part, because there was so much importance to the whole package. You had to have the visuals. The videos. The posters. Everything matches. Everything was one world. It’s like we created our own world. And, everything has to be consistent. Videos are really important and anything that can translate our personalities and exactly how we are with each other, with no bullshit, that’s what we go for.
Since we were young, we’ve been hanging out together and been best friends. And these people around us, they’d just tell us, ‘there’s something about these two dudes.’ We have this weird connection. Our interactions can definitely come across when we’re on stage, when we’re on videos, because you can see it’s real. You can see it’s there. It’s not like some fucking, you know, some put together boy band. We’re real friends.
TSS: It’s obvious. You touched on it earlier when you said how you might play the back role, but that’s just how you are. ‘It’s not just what you see, it’s really us.’ And, as fans, we can appreciate that, because there are so many makeshift bands that get shoved down our throats.
P-Thugg: Yeah. You can catch me and Dave at the club, or anywhere. In the street. In the car. Fuck it, when we’re eating somewhere. You’ll see exactly what you see in interviews. I’m in the back, watching Dave go off and making making me crack up. This is how we are.