New Build will appeal to fans of Hot Chip and LCD Soundsystem, if only because it’s made up of members of Hot Chip and LCD Soundsystem. The trio—which will expand to a seven-piece (!!!) live band for its two sold-out shows at Mercury Lounge on Tuesday and Wednesday—counts among its members Felix Martin and Al Doyle of Hot Chip, the latter of which also played myriad instruments for the late LCD’s live show, and producer/DJ Tom Hopkins, who, amongst other things, works as an engineer at Martin and Doyle’s East London recording space, Lanark Studios. Their debut album, Yesterday Was Lived and Lost, drops April 3 on their own Lanark Recordings imprint, and it’s an enjoyable mix of intergalactic Eno pop, propulsive beats, disco riffage and elegant string arrangements.
The project’s been sitting on the back burner for a while now. “There’s so much going on that we haven’t had time to devote ourselves to it,” Doyle says. “Then, last year, we had this nice stretch of time. We basically finished a lot of things off and then decided we could make it work as a live thing.” As for that name: “I like the word ‘new,’ I guess—like we’re making some kind of statement, like a break from something else,” Doyle says. “In the UK, the phrase ‘new build’ denotes these ugly houses that get built on the outskirts of town where they’re trying to get people to move in, like local workers. It’s actually got quite a lot of negative connotation in the UK. Somehow, it seemed attractive to us. It was the name we hated the least. [laughs] It’s kind of snappy and it looks good on the page. I should’ve come up with an amazing story.”
With Hot Chip’s fifth full-length album, In Our Heads, coming in June, New Build’s time to promote its debut is relatively brief—a smattering of live dates in the U.S. and Europe, and then it’s back to the main gig for Doyle and Martin. Sound of the City thought it only fitting to ask a member of a spin-off for some of his favorite spin-offs, and Doyle was exceedingly game in his replies, picking a band, an author and a restaurant, each with ties to New York.
Clive’s Original Band
It’s basically this guy, Clive Palmer, who used to be in the Incredible String Band. He did the first record with those guys and then went on to do his own thing. I was in New York at Academy Records and they were playing this record called Spirit of Love. I thought it sounded really amazing, and I found out it was this guy Clive Palmer. It’s a really unashamedly folkie, eccentric, English record that also references a lot of American spiritual music. Obviously, Incredible String Band were a very famous English folk-rock band, but I’m not sure how much people know about Clive Palmer. He’s a bit of a hero of mine. He never got that much fame or success. He was living on potatoes in a shack in some godforsaken part of the UK and he managed to make this album. It’s just an awesome record. I was into that for a long time.
I’d read a few books by Paul Auster, and then I found out his wife was also a novelist, so I thought I’d check her out and then I got really into her writing. She’s written a good number of novels, and the first one I read was called What I Loved. It’s just amazing: incredibly well written, incredibly economical, very emotional, and just a really disturbing story. It’s this kid who you eventually realize is totally psychotic and just fucks with these people’s lives in these really strange ways. And there’s a spin-off within the spin-off, because one of the main characters of What I Loved is in another of her novels called The Sorrows of an American. He crops up in that novel as an extra character, and it’s just a really nice thing. She obviously assumes that people haven’t necessarily read the other novels, but for the people that have, it’s just this amazing moment where this guy turns up in the novel who you’ve already encountered in the previous novel. I was lucky to read them that way around.
There’s a restaurant in Bushwick called Roberta’s, it’s sort of a pizza place. It was given this amazing review in Time Out, called the best restaurant in America and all this shit, and I used to go quite a lot. One of the chefs there, Angelo, is a sort of a friend of a friend, and he stopped working there and he’s now working at a new restaurant in Williamsburg called Masten Lake. I’m in love with this place. He’s an awesome dude, an Italian-American guy, and he built up Roberta’s quite a lot. I’m just really wild about that place at the moment. I was a big fan of Roberta’s, but after that review came in, it’s just totally rammed in there now. You never have the kind of meal you used to have. It’s just totally crazy in there. But I don’t think a lot of people know about Masten Lake, but I’d like to recommend it. It’s a really nice place to go to with nice little pasta dishes. (Unfortunately, Masten Lake closed a couple of weeks ago.)
New Build play Mercury Lounge March 13 and 14.