Who’s Jack sat down with Gossip to talk about their new album ‘A Joyful Noise’.
I’m waiting in the corridor of the Marylebone Hotel and I can hear Beth Ditto’s chirpy southern accent bouncing around the walls.
I’m taken into the band’s hotel room and sit on the edge of the bed. They’re all friendly and welcoming and despite what feels like a slight invasion of their privacy, I feel at home.
Before the interview begins there’s a bit of banter and although jet lagged, everyone is on top form.
The room service waiter enters the room at which point Beth asks him how he is, tells him he looks handsome and that he’s working it. The waiter thanks her with a slightly puzzled smile and exits. This is typical of her charm.
After a few tangents I managed to lock them down into talking about their new album A Joyful Noise.
WHO’S JACK: So I listened to the new record on my own and it really made me want to dance.
BETH: The dance from Wayne’s World?!
WHO’S JACK: Well there are a lot of windows in my flat so I reined it in a little bit.
BETH: Maybe you should put some clothes on next time. Also did you just sneak in a brag about having lots of windows in your house?
WHO’S JACK: I think that was a humble brag. Window brag?
BETH: Yeah window brag.
NATHAN: Oh god I can’t sleep because of all the huge windows in my house.
BETH: Oh I can’t sleep cos there’s so much amazing daylight in here. (Everyone laughs).
WHO’S JACK: So, on the new album tracks like Get Lost really remind me of classic 90’s dance tunes with pumping piano chords. What is it about making people dance that you find so appealing?
BETH: I don’t think you’d wanna play a show where people are bored.
NATHAN: Yeah, we don’t want people to stand still.
BETH: I honestly would rather people move than stand still.
HANNAH: At least there’s a connection then.
WHO’S JACK: And you want to connect with the audience on some level right?
BETH: Yeah. I mean there are some shows that you go to, like Cat Power and when you see her, if you get to hear a song, then you’re quiet. Elliott Smith was a show that was so quiet you could hear someone cough. That makes sense and people are connecting because that’s what the silence means. If it’s acoustic music or quiet music, the silence is a good thing. With loud music you want the opposite to that.
WHO’S JACK: Have you ever had the feeling where you don’t necessarily get the connection?
BETH: No every show we play is perfect. (Laughs)
BETH: People booed like crazy.
BETH: Screamed and ran.
WHO’S JACK: Physically ran away?
BETH: Oh no that was Greece.
NATHAN: Yeah that was Greece.
BETH: Turkey they booed. Greece they ran away. I think there’s always gonna be those shows and you don’t take it personally, you think “what can I do to prevent this next time?” But for the most part we’ve been really lucky, even the really small shows; I find them even more fun. I’m really excited to play to like 200 people at the next show in London. That’s my ideal show. Honestly, like you can literally look everyone in the eyes and then if they’re not doing what you want them to, you can call them out on it.
WHO’S JACK: Are there any of those small energetic shows that stick out in your mind?
BETH: I always say that my favourite show ever was Hull. Hull, England. Beautiful sunny Hull. It was the first tour we ever did here and I was 19 and we were with these other bands that would argue over headlining every night. We were like, we just don’t care, put us on the list! We refused to be a part of this headlining thing. They were like “we want London” and just to be fair we got our headlining moment in Hull. (Laughs). But it was amazing. One of my favourite shows ever because there were literally 15 people there, it was in this working men’s club, there were like these working class dudes screaming take back the revolution! It was incredible and being like “we’re lesbian gay wads” and they were like “YEAH!”. You know? And there were the two town lesbians, the drunk guys and it was amazing. They had such a good time. I love that feeling.
WHO’S JACK: Did you guys listen to anything in particular building towards making this record?
HANNAH: I listened to a ton of house music. The time spent in London was all electronic stuff.
BETH: Paul Simon, Abba. Loretta Lynn.
NATHAN: Country music.
HANNAH: Country House. Perfect combination. (Laughs)
BETH: Then put You Can Call Me Al in there somewhere. I’m obsessed with that record right now.
WHO’S JACK: It’s a great song.
BETH: IT IS AMAZING. Thank you!
WHO’S JACK: What sort of country music did you listen to?
BETH: I listened to Loretta Lynn because I was obsessed with her how her accent worked into her rhyming scheme. She has this special way of rhyming her words, it’s kinda like hip hop in that way. I’m really into making the connections between the country or the region you’re from and the way you sound.
NATHAN: Ethnomusicology. How regions relate to music. It’s interesting.
BETH: You’re smart. Did you look that up on lectures online? You can do that now. I can go to college. FINALLY I’m an educated woman. Ethnomusicology, I’m really into that then. I’m obsessed with the connection between Loretta Lynn and say Lil Wayne.
WHO’S JACK: Lil’ Lynn.
HANNAH: Lil Lynn! (Laughs)
WHO’S JACK: What was the dynamic for this one in the studio? How did the process work? Is it always the same with the three of you?
BETH: We just did it the way we always do.
HANNAH: We did the drums and the bass track in Portland. We tracked at the same time with Beth’s voice as a ghost in our headphones.
BETH: Hello (imitates ghost voice).
HANNAH: Then they did the rest in London.
BETH: You do not want me in the studio when you’re working.
HANNAH: Me and Nathan usually track together but then everything else is kinda separate.
BETH: I always see it as a Christmas tree. First you buy the Christmas tree, then you put everything on the Christmas tree and then the release date is Christmas day.
WHO’S JACK: Such a great metaphor.
BETH: Didn’t you say you needed a metaphor? I’m here for you.
WHO’S JACK: So what about the other stuff like the synths and stuff?
BETH: Those are the pretty things that get put on the Christmas tree.
NATHAN: Yeah those come later.
WHO’S JACK: The baubles?
BETH: Baubles? We say balls. Christmas balls. Isn’t that weird? I said “Is Santa gonna bring his balls” one year and I thought my mum was gonna die.
WHO’S JACK: So d’you wanna do anything aside from Gossip? Any other projects?
NATHAN: We wanna do a lot of energy drinks.
WHO’S JACK: It’s a lucrative market.
BETH: I think it would be nice to work on something low key, that’s low pressure, something really beautiful that we could just make quickly.
WHO’S JACK: Do you have any rituals?
BETH: I have to wash my feet every night. I have to shave my legs every day. Like I shave my legs before I brush my teeth – that should tell you my priorities. I’m just a really superstitious person. Like If I don’t shave my legs I think something’s gonna go wrong.
NATHAN: I like to play a Gretsch guitar. They’re beautiful.
HANNAH: I don’t really have anything. I love to practise though. I’m the practise taskmaster.
WHO’S JACK: What about before shows?
BETH: We’re usually all inebriated by then so everyone’s just running around like crazy people. (To PR) What do we do before shows?
PR: Make up.
BETH: Yeah we do make up.
WHO’S JACK: Make out?
BETH: Yeah we make out. Everybody get yo French on.
NATHAN: It’s frenching time.
A Joyful Noise is released on May the 14th and is available to order now.