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LCD Soundsystem - New York Crystal

Author: Cyclone
Friday, 18 January 2008
The punk-funk LCD Soundsystem is usually equated with James Murphy of the DFA. But, with LCD finally performing at Big Day Out, Murphy is pushing them as a band, as 3D’s Cyclone learns.

Indeed, Murphy, who strictly DJed at BDO two years ago, has eschewed interviews for their summer tour, allowing drummer and “best mate” Pat Mahoney to step up.

The New York native is anticipating his first expedition Down Under, having heard good reports from Murphy.

“He’s always really excited to go there,” Mahoney enthuses. “He said the pace is pretty sane and humane.”

No doubt Murphy, among the most influential figures in today’s dance culture, is weary of press chores, anyway. It was only a few months back when LCD presented their critically acclaimed second album, Sound Of Silver. That project evolved out of a commission for Nike, 45:33, which has just been re-released on CD, along with the single Someone Great, the apex of Sound... Someone Great could be a lost Human League classic.

Prior to LCD, Mahoney played in obscure punk outfits – even fronting one of them as a teenager. He befriended Murphy in the ’90s. At the time Mahoney was drumming in Les Savy Sav and they’d brought in Murphy, himself a seasoned punk, as sound engineer.

However, both Murphy and Mahoney were increasingly disillusioned with the punk scene. As such, Murphy embraced club music, converting Mahoney, who admits he never listened to it growing up. The mission of LCD Soundsystem was to make the rock’n’roll crowd dance.

In 2008 Mahoney feels that contemporary punk has little relevance.

“It’s ossified into what it’s been for a long time – punk as a genre of music,” he suggests. “The ideas that shaped it originally are still valid for everyone to think about but, as a form, it’s kind of dead. I like to think that what we do in LCD has a similar philosophy to what came out when I was a kid. But the sound of the artists who call themselves ‘punk’ now doesn’t really appeal to me.”

Murphy, who insists he’s primarily a producer, not a frontman, is encouraging his LCD bandmates to be more involved. Initially, Mahoney’s focus was to hone his “highly repetitive” drumming style within the group, but he’s seeking fresh challenges.

“James does most of the studio work, although Tyler [Pope] and I and Nancy [Whang] worked on the last record a lot more,” he says. “But then we have to interpret it for live [shows]. It’s a weird process where we go into the studio and we just start building it, part by part. So we’ll start playing the drums and the bassline and then just carefully add things in.

“We’ve had to do songs with a spread sheet because the way they’re written in the studio is pretty freeform.”

Mahoney values LCD’s openness.

“I have been in bands before that were not as interested in expanding their musical horizons, [there’s] some kind of holding onto a genre – and that was not exciting to me,” he says.

Recently, Mahoney and Murphy have DJed as a unit, culminating in the compilation FabricLive 36, which they recorded utilising an old Bozak mixer. Pat has likewise DJed at intimate parties in Brooklyn. Murphy may be partial to techno but, spinning with Mahoney, “it’s a lotta disco party jams.”

These days Murphy prefers DJing to gigging with LCD because it’s comparatively relaxing. In the past he’s described live tours as “deadening” – a grind. Mahoney can relate to his stress. “It’s an issue,” he laughs.

After BDO, LCD will, in fact, take a break from the road. LCD currently harbour no plans for a third LP, yet Mahoney alludes to their airing some 12 Inches. And, in 2008, Mahoney, an art school student, intends to return to his other interest – creating sculptures as well as jewellery. He’s fashioned “sculptural accessories” for Octopi NYC.

“I’m looking forward to having a year of not touring, or just touring as a DJ and not doing the long tours, and getting into the studio and making stuff again,” he says.

WHO: LCD Soundsystem
WHAT: Play Big Day Out, Sydney Showgrounds / Enmore Theatre
WHEN: Friday 25 January / Saturday 26 January