Me-WOW, we love Ratatat! This dynamic Brooklyn duo’s jam “Wildcat” is, quite literally, ROARsome and was totes fred’s official theme song of Holiday 2006. They’ll be touring the country this summer including a show with Daft Punk in Los Angeles on July 21st! For more jamz and rad pix, check out ratatatmusic.com! Evan – one half of the band – gave us some insight on Ratatat’s brilliant beatz. Listen to our new STAFF MIX to hear “Wildcat”!
Were you both involved in other bands before you started Ratatat?
I had a project called E*vax, which is mellower electronic stuff. Mike was touring with Dashboard Confessional and Ben Kweller.
How did you two come to decide on your signature sound and how has it changed between the first and the second album?
We didn’t really decide on the sound, we just arrived there somehow. I think it was because Mike was coming from a rock background and I was doing the electronic stuff and listening to a lot of hip hop. He brought the guitars and I brought the beats and it just developed from there. A lot of the songs on the first record just seemed to drop out of the sky. We’d get together and start recording and at the end of the day we’d have this crazy sound and usually we didn’t even understand it yet. We’d just put it on afterwards and be like, Holy crap! Listen to that! The second album was much slower and more deliberate. We had the sound developed already, but we really wanted to push it as far as we could. There was a lot of experimenting and a lot of trial and error. In general the songs are much more complex and more layered than the first.
The name is amazing! How did you come up with it?
The band was originally called Cherry, but there was conflict with other bands using the same name so we had to change it. We just sat down and brainstormed for a few days. It was slow going, but then the name just popped into my head and it was the first idea we’d had that we didn’t absolutely hate. After a while we even started to LIKE it. Now I really like the name Ratatat and I don’t like Cherry much anymore. Cherry” made us sound like sissies! “Ratatat” makes us sound tough, right?
We love the visuals at your shows too! They match perfectly with your sounds. Who makes these videos, and what is your concept for them?
Thanks! I make the videos at home. They’re mostly stop-motion animations of hand drawn stuff that get manipulated in a computer. The idea is to make something that complements the music but doesn’t overshadow the live performance, so I try to keep them fairly simple. They’re just meant to be a backdrop. I think they help set the mood for each song.
“Wildcat” is DEFINITELY our fave jam! Tell us how you guys put the song together. It’s genius!
That was the last song we wrote for the new album. Just before it we’d spent loads of time on these very complex intense songs like “Swisha” and “Tropicana” so we were in the mood to do something a little more light and fun. After a few days of working on it, we had the idea to drop the wildcat scream in there and it just took off. It was a really fun song to make.
You’ve been on tour all over the world. Where was the favorite place that you played?
Our US tour was really fun because the audiences were amazing and we were shocked every night at how many people were showing up at the shows. Austin and Ann Arbor were two of the best on that tour. At the moment I’m really excited about the overseas shows, though. Mexico, New Zealand, and Japan were all fantastic. We did a month of shows all over Europe and went to lots of countries I’ve never been to. The first two shows were in Turkey and Estonia! I’ve barely heard of these places… I seriously thought it was an elaborate joke our booking agent was playing on us. He said the name of the venue in Turkey is “Yeni Melek Gosteri Merkezi “. We totally didn’t believe him until we got there.
Speaking of playing at amazing places, you guys played at the Guggenheim last year! How was that experience?
That was a crazy experience. The whole thing felt very surreal. The museum was still open when we were setting up our equipment so there were loads of people milling around looking at the art as we were setting up amplifiers. The building itself is just so impressive and daunting. The view from the stage during the show was incredible. The floor was covered in people and then there were all these levels on balconies full of people all the way up. I kept picturing the artist Matthew Barney climbing up the walls!
We hear you two represent Brooklyn like fredflare.com! What are your favorite things about living here?
Prospect Park, The Islands Jamaican restaurant around the corner from my apartment, Fulton Mall and the trees.
Other than your own music, what bands have you been into?
White Flight, Childballads, Hexa, Despot, Os Mutantes, T-Rex, Boredoms
Do you have any advice to aspiring artists out there looking to get their big break?
Stop trying to sound like T-Rex or Bloc Party or the Boredoms. When you sit down to write a song, just be sincere and work hard. Oh and get some flashy jewelry. It’ll help you stick out in a crowd!
Ok, how ’bout a flashy speed round!?
fave color: stripes
fave candy: pulparindo
fave book: my checkbook
fave movie: Pierrot Le Fou
fave drink: juice
fave artist: Robert Motherwell
fave interview: this one
Aw, thanks Evan! You’re our fave too!