Catching Up With Electric Guest At North Coast Music Festival
Electric Guest, an upbeat duo from Los Angeles has been touring the country and bringing their dance-able sound following the release of their latest album. We caught up with Asa Taccone and Matthew Compton at North Coast Music Festival last month after their afternoon set.
Sensible Reason: How was your set?
Electric Guest: It was hella good. It was great because of the park itself, it’s so pretty with the cicadas and stuff, it’s a nice vibe.
SR: This is the third stop on your tour, correct?
EG: The third show, yeah. We’ve had some long drives in between them, though.
SR: You’ve been driving everywhere?
EG: It took like 20 hours to get here, we’re coming from Boulder.
SR: Where did you two meet?
We lived in a communal, artsy band house, hella kids from different bands living in. Kind of a revolving door of people. I moved in first and he would come over and play tracks on other people’s projects and I heard him and asked if he could play on a couple of my projects and… the rest is history.
SR: How would you describe the creative process between the two of you?
EG: We bounce back and forth ideas and add some stuff.
SR: Is it challenging to do two people or are two heads better than one?
EG: I think it’s a lot easier with two people.
As I get older I think it’s better to collaborate with people. I think more ideas can only garner better ideas.
It might be challenging to do a full band. Five people would be much harder.
SR: That’s what you do on stage, you play with a full band. So, how does working in the studio compare with your stage sets where you have people jumping in on what you’re doing?
EG: It’s cool. I think we realize that some of these songs have changed quite a bit from where they were back in the studio to now. People will sometimes put their own flare on something and we’ll be like No, don’t do that, or Yeah, that’s awesome and it becomes something different over time.
SR: What song do you think has changed the most over time?
EG: I want “This Head I Hold” to change more, actually. I still feel like that song sucks.
Our set’s a lot different than the recording.
A lot different. Way faster.
“My Omen,” is a song off of our new album that we’ve sort of extended and added a bit of a psychedelic flair to.
SR: Was that you guys or the people performing it that changed the song?
EG: I think it was a little bit of both. The dude who plays with us, Reese, is extremely capable.
We’re fortunate to have him.
He’s at that level of skill that we wouldn’t do it that way if he wasn’t with us. But it is both, we wanted the songs to live and breathe in a different way on stage. Even if you’re nailing it matching the record, people sometimes complain that it sounds too much like the record. You want it to be different. We extended it and added these guitar solos and they roll with it, just look at each other and jam.
SR: Sometimes, though, you’re expecting one thing when you see an artist and get disappointed because it’s too different in a live setting.
EG: I know what you’re talking about. I’ve noticed it’s hard for a lot of rappers. They’re known for the nuances in their voice and then they go on stage and just go ham and turn up so hard and it doesn’t really translate. It’s about finding what works and what’s compelling. Sometimes when you get on stage you want it to be a party and be energetic so it can be hard not to sometimes go hard. But, I do think finding moments where it’s more chill and where it’s more nuanced, it’s the art of finding your sound. That’s not to say that we’ve necessarily found our sound perfectly, but we’re working out the kinks.
SR: What kinks do you still feel like you need to work out?
EG: There are a few songs that we could tighten up for sure.
There are some songs on the new record that we haven’t done [live] yet that we want to do but we want them to fit.
SR: Translating from studio to stage?
SR: How was that in the creative process? Do you make music with that in mind at this point?
EG: I think we’re forced to think about it. We lost our bass player that has always been with us, he couldn’t do this tour. So we had to re-teach this new bass player everything for this tour, this was his third show with us. It was like starting over. We’re constantly having to do that, Reese was playing guitar and keys for us and he hasn’t done that in a while since the last record.
SR: Were you thinking about it when writing the music 5 years ago?
EG: No. We didn’t want to be limited in what we wrote. After our first album, we did a lot of touring and I thought I would come back to the studio constantly thinking about how it would translate on stage, but I didn’t and I’m glad it worked out that way.
SR: What happened to your old bass player?
EG: He died.
EG: We’re kidding.
He’s dead to us, though.
He’s actually great.
SR: What really happened?
EG: We do really grueling tours, and it was just intense, we’ve been doing months and months of this and he just wanted a break.
SR: How did you find his replacement?
EG: He recommended someone to us, so that was great.
SR: What are you most excited for coming up on the rest of this tour?
EG: We play Detroit tomorrow and I really want to go there.
I’ve never been there.
I’ve been there a few times but it’s been years since I’ve been and it wasn’t nearly as nice as I hear it is now. I heard it’s amazing and beautiful and great new buildings and all this stuff. I’m excited to go check it out.
SR: People are buying a lot of stuff up because it’s so cheap, so the city is improving.
EG: Exactly, so we’re excited to check it out. Time heals wounds.
SR: So it’s been 5 years since your last album. Why such a long hiatus?
EG: There was one record that we wrote that we scrapped. So there was something in between.
It wasn’t that strong, so we were told.
SR: Who told you that?
EG: A couple people, friends, and then the record label, but we cared more about what our friends thought. There were a couple good ones on there, and our first two songs on our new album came from that scrapped album.
SR: Are you thinking about trying to re-work those old ones or are they totally trashed at this point?
EG: There’s a couple of them. I doubt that they’ll make it to the next album, but I would like for them to see the light of day.
SR: What is the challenge between something that flows from you and a record deadline? As a writer sometimes it can take 3 hours to create 300 words but other days a full festival review will flow in a half hour.
EG: I think you like nailed it right there.
SR: Was that second album sort of what happened? Was it forced?
EG: I think it was just over-intellectualizing the whole thing. I think a lot of smart people feel like they have to struggle and it has to be a struggle, but I think it doesn’t matter if it comes out in 20 minutes. I think you can spend hours tweaking something but if it doesn’t have the heart in it, you can’t shift it.
Regardless of the process it took to make it happen, Electric Guest had a high energy set with tons of people dancing in the crowd. Their energy on stage is felt from front to back. They ended their set with their latest single “Oh Devil” and it seemed everyone knew the track as they danced in the summer sunlight. We hope we won’t have to wait another 5 years for their next album.