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By Andy Argyrakis
Photos by Emma Cooke
Matinee Club combines synths with sex appeal
"One on One"
April 22, 2008
As sultry synths collide with dance-laden hooks and sexy vocals, Matinee Club appears to be from a galaxy all its own, or perhaps more accurately, ingenious translators of the bi-gone new wave era to today's contexts. The London-based band is already earning considerable buzz overseas thanks to its recollection of Kraftwerk, Duran Duran, The Cure and Blondie (not to mention hat tips to Underworld and Daft Punk) on its American debut disc The Modern LP. Outside of several originals merging indie pop and electro-rock, the project also possesses a cover of David Bowie's "Modern Love," but rather than merely ripping off the original, singer Emma Cooke and her cohorts completely re-draft its sonic template to fit their own innovative brew. Call it synth-pop, alternative, dance rock or any other name under the stratosphere, though it's always been the troupe's mantra to invite all audiences with open arms, as gleaned from a recent conversation with the famed front woman. Livewire: Who are some of the influences that helped shape this album- both current and classic?
Cooke: Well each of us come at pretty different angles which helped make the album- I hope, an interesting shape. [Keyboardist/vocalist] Nathan [Cooper] and I were real pop heads growing up. Nathan's a big Durannie and always loved Japan and Depeche Mode. I love Blondie and Madonna, but also Ella Fitzgerald and love a bit of Frank [Sinatra]. [Keyboardist/vocalist] Chi [Tudor-Hart] was brought up on Devo, The Cure, XTC. On the tour bus we have been listening to Late of the Pier, The Postal Service, Ladytron, Hot Chip and we are big Radiohead fans.
Livewire: Your music certainly has an old school appeal but is still decidedly current. Why did you decide to go in a more contemporary direction rather than riding the retro bandwagon straight out?
Cooke: We didn't try to go one way or the other. We just played what seemed to feel right. It just so happens this seems to be the right time to be making this kind of music.
Livewire: How were you able to translate David Bowie's classic "Modern Love" to today's contexts while still maintaining its original integrity?
Cooke: I think by having a girl sing it helps for a start and I came at it more from what "love" is in the millennium. More so now than ever, I think we have a obsession with sex and it being readily available and disposable, so we tried to get as much of that in the track as possible. Also we tried to push as far away from the original as possible, as let's face it- no one's ever gonna beat Bowie!
Livewire: Do you find your music resonating more with alternative rock audiences or club goers?
Cooke: Well we have a big alternative fan base. We are very lucky that we appeal to a wide spectrum of people. It varies from thirty-somethings who get a nostalgic feel from 80s sounds and lots of indie and new wave kids right to a large goth following.
Livewire: To what degree is fashion present in your overall presentation?
Cooke: We love to dress up- always have. Chi remembers when he first saw Nathan when he was about 14. Nathan was being chased by a group of boys who were going to beat him up because he had rouge on his cheeks!
Livewire: How have audiences overseas thus far received your material?
Cooke: So far, so good. We are also spreading our wings in France and working with some artists over there on a album for French release. Also I have been getting a lot of calls from family in Ireland saying that we get a lot of radio play over there.
Livewire: What are your goals for the States in terms of spreading awareness for The Modern LP?
Cooke: Well I hope we raise enough awareness to get the label to organize a tour in the States. Nathan has never been, so what better way to see America!