Los Angeles duo Electric Guest make sprightly indie pop that recalls the cheesier side of ‘70s MOR as much as it does contemporary bands like Phoenix. The pair are on the fast-track to next big thing status – they recently played a series of showcase gigs at The Echo in Los Angeles, and in spite of the fact that they only had one single to their name at the time, the shows were a smashing success. “The first one was a big awkward, we were still finding our feet, but by the third of fourth, it was really great,” singer Asa Taccone says.
Playing to audiences unfamiliar with their music just made the pair work harder. “At times, we’d ask ourselves, ‘What’s going on with this crowd?’ But then we’d remember, ‘Oh yeah, they’ve never heard half of these songs before!’” he laughs.
The band’s debut, Mondo, has just released, and its vintage sound comes courtesy of producer Danger Mouse, an old friend of Taccone’s. “When I first moved to Los Angeles, I was writing a lot of songs, and quite often I’d call my brother Jorma and play him songs just to see if he liked them. One day, he said ‘Hold on, I want to play that to somebody,’ and then he put Brian, otherwise known as Danger Mouse, on the phone. This was about eight years ago. Brian said he liked it and wanted to hear more, so I just sent him a bunch of stuff I’d done in college … I ended up moving into his old room, and he mentored me for a couple of years, and then after a while, suggested that we might do a record together.”
Working with Danger Mouse was a very comfortable process for the duo – essentially, Taccone explains, it was just friends hanging out in the studio. “I think his studio has a very specific sound, and that’s down to a lot of the gear he has, which is mostly analogue stuff,” he says. “The drums in particular have that kind of dry ‘70s sound. I have a tonne of analogue gear as well, old keyboards and stuff. Sometimes we would start in the middle of a song, sometimes at the end, it was all over the place, but the sessions were very relaxed.”
The producer was open to hearing any ideas the band had, and if they were stuck, was happy to let them rummage around in his gear, giving them pedals to play with until they found just the sound they were looking for. These laid-back sessions make for a supremely laid-back album.
In contrast, the band are finding their lives suddenly frenetic thanks to the media attention. I mention to Taccone that I enjoyed watching a YouTube video of them covering Wham!’s Everything She Wants, and he seems genuinely shocked that such a thing should even be on the internet. “Oh shit,” he says, seeming genuinely embarrassed, “I had no idea anybody was filming that. Was I dancing in it? Did I look weird?” I assure him that he looked good, and that the audience seemed to think so too. “A lot of surreal things like that have been happening to us recently,” he says. “Not long ago, we were on a TV show in France and the host held a copy of our album up. We asked if we could hold it, because we’d never actually come in contact with a physical copy of it before.”
BY ALASDAIR DUNCAN
ELECTRIC GUEST are playing the soldout Splendour In The Grass, taking place at Belongil Fields, Byron Bay, from Friday July 27 to Sunday July 29. They also play the Northcote Social Club on Wednesday August 1. Mondo is out now through Dew Process.