Long before the internet and Myspace, Facebook and Twitter, people used to meet in person and hold civilised conversations. What follows is such an encounter. In November 1997 I met Chris Corner, at the time in Sneaker Pimps, for what turned out to be our first interview – I was to interview him again ten years later with another of his outlet: IAMX…
Their single 6 Underground is anchored is your heads and mine, they had the honour to see this song featured on the Saint soundtrack after much begging. Liam, Kelli and Chris have also (tried to) collaborated with the “bad boys” of Marilyn Manson on another soundtrack, this time for Spawn.
But 1997 has also seen them come again and again through France: Rock à Paris, Route du Rock and lately at the New Morning in Paris (thanks to Ouï FM).
It is in an elegant tea parlour that Chris, guitarist, songwriter and producer (all that just for one man?) has accepted to answer to my (indiscreet) questions.
PAUSE AND… PLAY:
Closer.: Let’s start by talking of your musical influences…
Chris: I listen to Nick Drake, Japan, Can, a lot of electronic music, some hip-hop, Miles Davis…
Closer.: What an eclectic list!
Chris: I have only given my favourite musicians there but it’s also true for the rest of the band, this eclecticism.
Closer.: It can actually be felt in the Sneaker Pimps music…
Chris: Yes, and I think our music is very visual (that could maybe explain the fact they are so sought after to participate to soundtracks – they also feature on A Life Less Ordinary by Danny Boyle)
Closer.: After writing for soundtracks aren’t you tempted to get behind the camera and become actors?
Chris: My god no!!! I am for my part not interested, I wouldn’t even try (laughs). However I’d love to write the music for a whole film, oh yes!
Closer.: Whilst we’re talking about image, are you able to control that of the band? Who chooses single and album covers and video directors?
Chris: For the covers it’s down to the band, we oversee everything. But the videos, we prefer leaving them to professionals! (laughs) Our first video, Tesko Suicide, we produced ourselves and it was terrible! We never did that again! (laughs) Still, it happens that the record company brings forth… some DJs for remixes and we don’t really see that we have any other choice than to say yes, but that isn’t so important!
To conclude, the control is fairly well balanced between the band and the record company.
Closer.: Sneaker Pimps has played loads of festivals last summer, what are your impressions about that experience?
Chris: (pauses) Festivals, they’re not top for bands, I mean, we have no control or so little over the sound we’d like to (re)produce on stage, well… it’s so complicated… most of the time you end up completely drunk, doing anything and everything (see questionnaire) ! But I appreciate this kind of gathering, it gives the audience some choice. It’s like a fan of possibilities, you get to see the bands you want to see and discover some others but it is also not representative because, more than often, you get to ingest so much music in one day that it’s difficult to see clearly when looking back on the experience.
Closer.: You are now five musicians on stage and there’s a real cohesion. I can imagine that it must have presented some difficulties to include a bassist and a drummer to the exist trio…
Chris: There’s some truth in that but it is purely a technical question though, because the sound of the album obviously loses to be, or to try to be, reproduced live. It becomes more aggressive when we would’ve liked it to be more… trippy? To get back to Joe (bassist) and Dave (drummer), it was obvious for us to choose them: Liam went to college with them, we’ve known them for five years, we know each other by heart, we couldn’t found better than them!
Closer.: The album was also remixed by various DJs (Reprazent to only name one). It’s like a fashion these days…
Chris: …and so completely obsolete at the same time! It shouldn’t turn into an obsession. That said, we still like to produce, go to clubs, but we are a little tired of all this hype.
Closer.: Sadly time has flown by and we must part, one last question?
Chris: Ok! Go on…
Closer.: What’s the latest development in the Spawn malarkey?
Chris: (he’s nearly choking with laughter because I dared ask THE question nobody should ask) We have toured together for a long while through the U.S., whilst slagging them off in the press as time went by. All that is tiring in the end, I’m still convinced Brian (MM frontman) is a cretin (bursts into laughter) but hey… (pauses) we saw each other at a party in New York and we ended up laughing about the whole thing!
We are now reassured on the band’s future, they are finishing a tour that left Liam, Kelli, Chris, Joe and Dave on their knees. From January they will enjoy a well-earned holiday where they can concentrate on cooking and other more restful hobbies. We do hope to see them again before long!