12 (11) questions with…. #5/ Ratatat
by Jamie Milton
Ratatat have been slowly causing a fuss in the musical expertee community. Third-record, aptly titled LP3 is on the brink of finding itself in all good record stores and all good people’s end of year lists – it’s their most instantaneous, interesting album to date and we got hold of one half of the duo, Evan Mast, to comment on how a simple meeting in an old New York house ended up in the short-spanned recording of their most impressive record to date.
-Why did you choose to mix an album in a studio for the first time LP3, was it simply more wealth to the resources or a desire to evolve the record in one way or another?
we’ve always talked about mixing our records in a proper studio. in the past we were just never able to find the right place to do it. our mixing process is pretty simple and straightforward though. all the decisions about arrangements are structure are made while we’re recording, so mixing for us is just about finalizing the sounds. getting everything situated properly. EQing, getting the levels right…
- Old Soul studios must have had a profound influence on the record. If you could, talk about the experience, did it change your perception of what sort of a record you’d like to make?
it was a great experience. everything just kind of fell into place. initially we went up to old soul to help our friend justin with his new White Flight album and we just really liked the place and got along well with the Wolf, the guy who owns the studio. he was going out of town for 2 months on tour, so we decided to rent the studio while he was gone. we signed up for 40 days and 40 nights and it was just mike and I in this big house for the duration of it. we got super focused really quickly. the first day there we made “dura” and “mi viejo”. i don’t think we’ve ever been so productive and worked so quickly before. it felt like we were racing to keep up with the ideas. its quite a contrast to classics which took about 2 years to make. it was like the whole process was condensed into this very intense short period of time. i’m really happy with how deep into we got. by the end of our time there the ideas were getting really strange.
- How do you intend to move LP3 onto the live stage, considering the multi-instrumentalist formation the record’s taken?
we’re still working that out. we’ve been talking about getting some more musicians to help us out. i’d love to get a good zarb player on board. i think mike and i will be doing a lot more instrument changes than we have in the past as well.
- What makes LP3 vary so much from your other two records?
i think the main difference is that songs are more immediate. we have a tendency to overcomplicate and over think tracks a lot of the time – with LP3 we were trusting our initial instincts a lot more than ever before.
- If approached, would you be willing for one of your songs to be used in the opening of a film sequence or an advert as it’s a common opinion that a lot of your music would be well suited towards that.
it all depends on the film or the ad.
- Was the writing process spontaneously done at Old Soul or did you enter the studio with a chunk of ideas?
we always write while we record. i had made a stockpile of drum beats ahead of time, but that was it. we were touring in a van in europe in february of 2007 and we had these long drives between shows, so i was making a lot of beats on my laptop while we travelled.
we didn’t have any plans ahead of going into the studio though. we’d just put on a beat and start throwing down ideas and start reacting to them and see where it goes. thats the only method that really seems to work for us.
- Why did this record take less time to conjure up than the other two?
we really isolated ourselves this time. i stopped answering my phone and checking my email for the most part and we just completely focused on the music. we got into this amazing rhythm, this steady pace. it felt like when you’re riding a bike really fast and you switch into a high gear and your legs are suddenly moving half as fast but the bike just continues moving even faster.
- Would you agree with many people’s opinion that you are “incomparable” to any other act, without sounding arrogant?!
yes… without sounding arrogant
- The record dabbles with several genres and also foreign sounds like a Spanish-European take on ‘Mi Viejo’. Did that come about via. the records you were listening to at the time?
i’m not sure where the ideas came from. we weren’t really listening to much music while we were recording. sometimes we’d watch music videos on tv while we ate dinner, but that was mostly really horrible stuff. we did get really into the j holiday track “bed”. thats a really amazing song. naked brothers band “if thats not love”… we were also listening to a lot of Chemirani, which is an Iranian drum trio that WHITE FLIGHT turned us onto
- A simple question, why the simple title to the album?
- Did Old Soul significantly progress your record and would you want to go back to a similar, inspirational scenario when recording future material?
now that we’ve tried it, i’m quite hooked on the idea of recording in studios. i would love to record in another land sometime…overseas, on an island, in a forest, in new zealand, with a turkish string section… i’m definitely up for trying something new. i think those inital responses to a new environment can trigger some interesting ideas. its just a matter of finding the right spots.