Daft Punk, or rather the men inside those fancy helmets named Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo, sat down for a face to face interview with GQ magazine to talk about the forthcoming release of their new album Random Access Memories. To accompany the interview, DP also posed for a few pretty pictures (which you can see below). I’m not sure how many Daft Punk interviews you’ve read before but the guys really come across as painfully normal people … which may be surprising to some, considering they do their best to look like alien robots all of the time. Click below to read some excerpts from their GQ interview and learn more about the guys inside the helmets.
They are rusty at being Daft Punk. They’ve been gone for a long time. Since their last proper studio release, 2005’s Human After All, they’ve done just a handful of interviews—three, maybe four, tops—and they’re badly out of practice. They’re still answering questions like Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo, instead of like Daft Punk, which is a problem, because they’d prefer that you not think of them as people at all. That’s partly what the robot helmets are for. It’s why you’ve never seen their faces. “I remember when I was a kid, I would watch Superman, and I was super into the feeling of knowing that Clark Kent is Superman and no one knows,” Bangalter says. “We always thought as we were shaping this thing that the fantasy was actually so much more exciting than the idea of being the most famous person in the world.” It’s a Saturday afternoon in Los Angeles, and the two men are seated, sans disguises, outside at a café on La Brea. They’re talking about their kids (two each), the vagaries of the California wildlife that haunt Bangalter’s house up in the hills (deer and coyotes, mostly, though recently he lost a night of sleep to the hooting of what he’s pretty sure was an owl), and a bunch of other things they’d really rather not discuss—a bunch of things they will later try to take back—because finally, after eight years, there is a new Daft Punk record. It’s called Random Access Memories—they whisper the title across the table, because it’s February and no one else knows this yet, and because with Daft Punk nearly everything is a secret. The record is only Daft Punk’s fourth in sixteen years, not counting the soundtrack work they did on Disney’s 2010 sequel to Tron, and the first that the two men, who recorded their first three albums at home (two in Bangalter’s bedroom, one in his living room), have made in a proper studio. It’s a big and lush and opulent ’70s-disco record, glamorous in places and almost mournful in others, like something a heartbroken vacuum cleaner might drive around to at night in Detroit. It’s got choirs and flutes and some of the same guys who played on Thriller and Off the Wall, and Panda Bear from Animal Collective, and Nile Rodgers from Chic, and a gang of other collaborators—Italian disco god Giorgio Moroder, “Rainbow Connection” guy Paul Williams, pianist Chilly Gonzales, house titan Todd Edwards, the Strokes’ Julian Casablancas, Pharrell Williams singing about sex and ancient Greek mythology. It sounds like it cost about a million dollars to make, if not more, an estimate they don’t deny but also won’t confirm. More to the point, Random Access Memories is a calculated departure from past Daft Punk records, even for Daft Punk, a band that, over the course of its lengthy reign as the most well-known and critically revered dance-music act on the planet, has made a point of never making the same record twice. Only a handful of people have heard the album so far, but the two men already seem resigned to the possibility that no one will like it. “In Scream 2, they have this discussion about how sequels always suck,” Bangalter says. In this scheme, Random Access Memories might as well be Scream 4. “The thing we can ask ourselves at some point is like: We’re making music for twenty years. How many bands and acts do you have that are still making good music after twenty years? It always sucks—almost always, you know?” And de Homem-Christo, who has said maybe a few dozen words up to this point, most of them about salad and directed at our waitress, peers over the golden top edge of his sunglasses and says: “So our new album is supposed to really suck.”
You can read the full GQ feature article HERE. It’s interesting … Daft Punk is pretty much loved by everyone. It’s cool to like Daft Punk so even if you don’t like them, you’d never admit to it. Everything they put out is considered genius musicianship … even if it doesn’t sell remarkably well or rack up #1 songs, their music tends to ALWAYS get lauded in the press. I like Daft Punk. I believe much of their music is inspired genius. But I have a hard time truly understanding why seemingly every person on Earth loves them, too. What is it about their music that makes people like it so much? I think most people would be hard pressed to name a handful of songs. Daft Punk don’t make the kind of music that you generally sing along to. Still, everyone loves them. I’m curious to hear what their album sounds like and I hope to give it a listen before the FLOOD of positive press drowns us all. These guys may look like superhuman beings but they’re just people … people who have an amazing ability to hold everyone in their sway. Hmmm.