Reporting Scott T. Sterling
As the hype cycle surrounding Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories continues on, the French electronic duo spoke with Stryker of Radio.com station KROQ in Los Angeles for a rare radio interview. Calling from New York where they were doing a small bit of promo earlier this month, Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo discussed everything from connecting with the album’s various collaborators to their feelings on director J.J. Abrams taking over the Star Wars franchise. Yes, the robots have feelings about Jedis.
“We feel really good [about it],” Bangalter said of Abrams’ new directorial role in the rebooted Star Wars franchise. “We’ve always been big fans of his work. I happened to have met J.J. a few years back, and he’s a really cool guy. He seems to be the perfect candidate to keep the Force alive.”
Bangalter copped to being a fan of the Abrams-helmed TV show Lost, including the polarizing series finale. “As Pharrell would sing in ‘Get Lucky,’ ‘All ends with beginnings,’” he joked, referencing the producer-vocalist’s lyrics on their collaborative hit, currently at No. 3 on the Hot 100 chart.
They were also excited to report that they have a fan in former Beatle Paul McCartney.
“We haven’t met him, but we have some mutual friends and we learned that he also liked the album, which is really incredible to hear,” Bangalter said. “He was really responsive to the record. It’s cool. It goes with the idea behind RAM, which was being able to interact with the musicians that have inspired us.”
“I ran into him at Henson Recording Studios when they were recording the ‘We Are the World’ 25th anniversary [version] with Quincy Jones for the Haiti hurricane, but we didn’t speak,” Bangalter explained.
“I [only] saw his car in the parking lot of the studio, and I stopped and stared for two minutes at it,” added de Homem-Christo. “It would be too overwhelming to meet Brian Wilson. I think I would faint. Another time in the same parking lot I saw Mick Jagger, but from the back, walking away. I didn’t’get lucky.”
“We met in our studio back in 2010 when we were still working on Tron through a mutual friend and collaborator,” de Homem-Christo explained. “He actually asked our friend if we wanted to have a cup of coffee and just meet and have a chat. Of course we said yes, because Thomas and me have been the biggest fans of the Strokes since the ’90s. So we met, and we had an instrumental demo on the shelf that we wanted to use for [the album], and as soon as he heard it he jumped on it and was really excited. It was a big surprise for us.”
De Homem-Christo continued: “It really became what ‘Instant Crush’ is today, which is the idea of something hybrid, which is different from things we had done ourselves and anything he’d ever performed as well. Getting out of our comfort zone was something the three of us wanted to do, for sure.”
While Random Access Memories is easily the biggest album of Daft Punk’s career, being one of the most-talked about bands in the world has focused the spotlight on the actual men behind the robot helmets. Despite efforts to maintain anonymity, a blurry photo of both members hanging out in the Columbia Records office recently leaked online, allegedly by fellow electronic duo the Knocks.
“It’s hard, but it’s also fun because it’s a challenge,” Bangalter said. “It becomes also like a game. The idea of anonymity is something we cherish because it’s a statement. It’s also the way we’re living our lives, and we really like the separation between the public image and our private lives. At the same time, it’s part of the entertainment and the mystique of the entire project we’ve built step by step, record after record. Having the ability to make these robots evolve and follow this journey. It’s becoming more and more challenging, but so far so good.”