Ratatat is the experimental electronic-rock duo from Brooklyn that appeals to your sense of rhythm with their experimentation of arrangements, peculiar sounds, wailing guitar licks and distorted reverbs. With the success of four LPs which were released in six years; multiple world tours; and productions on other artists’ tracks like Kid Cudi’s “Pursuit of Happiness,” guitarist Mike Stroud and producer Evan Mast took a five-year-long hiatus, which left fans thinking Ratatat were no more.
Returning with their powerful new LP Magnifique, the duo return to the sound palette of their first releases with melodious tracks that are playful, soulful, yet still loud and boisterous.
Giving a taste-tester of their latest album late last year when they played at Meredith Music Festival, Fairgrounds Festival in Berry, as well as sideshows along the East Coast, the duo is set to return for a comprehensive Australian tour for Groovin The Moo. With nearly five years since their last visit Down Under, we can’t wait to see how their live show has developed. But before they wow us on stage, we chat to Evan Mast (the man behind Ratatat’s bass, synthesizers and percussion production), about Magnifique, dream collaborations and why they kept their fans patiently waiting for their 5th LP.
I’m sure you’ve had this question asked a lot since Magnifique was released but we have to know, what made you wait so long between releasing LP4 and your latest album?
After having released 4 albums and toured each extensively we wanted to take a substantial break. It took us some time to find the direction and motivation for this album too.
What did you do in the interim? Did you that find your touring and recording schedule interfered with other goals outside of Ratatat?
Touring can definitely interfere with aspects of your life. It was nice to have a long break from it, but then we also started to miss it after some time had passed.
LP4 was a quirky mix of analogue, experimental sounds and vocal samples while Magnifique was a clear shift back to driving melodies and instrumentation with wailing guitar riffs. Was this your intention when you first set out to write a new album?
We knew from the beginning of the process that we wanted the album to be more focused on guitar than the previous 2 had been. It was an intentional decision to work with a more limited palette of sounds, less complex beats, and to push the songwriting and arrangement further.
Artists can be very self-critical of their own work. How critical are you of your past albums in comparison to Magnifique? Have you become less or more critical as the years go on?
We’re so critical throughout the process of making an album, by the time the record is finished we’re quite happy with the songs as we’ve committed to them. And for the most part, that holds up over time. I rarely listen to our albums, but when I have I’ve still felt quite good about them.
When making music, are you both usually on the same creative wavelength?
Yes, its rare that we have a disagreement about how a track should sound while creating it.
What does each of you bring to the table during the initial phases of making a track and do you usually compliment one another’s strengths?
Yes, I think we definitely compliment each other’s strengths. We’ve had tracks come together in lots of different ways, but the best case scenario is that we’re both in the studio together and the track evolves quickly and naturally with each of us coming up with parts in reaction to what the other one is doing. Sometimes we’ll get on a roll like that and we can get a lot of music made really quickly. That feels great.
What do you think has been your greatest achievement as a band?
Bringing a lot of people together over instrumental music
Back in 2009, you collaborated with Kid Cudi to produce “Pursuit of Happiness.” What would Ratatat’s dream collaboration be?
I’d love to work with James Turrell
If you had to pick one Ratatat track for first-time listeners, what would it be and why?
Abrasive might be a good one to start with. It kinda depends on who the listener is though right?
As for album titles, you’ve gone for almost indifferent options in the past while Magnifique is very striking. What is the story behind that?
Just a word we gravitated towards. I was spending a lot of time in France for a while and I really like hearing the word in use there. I don’t speak French but it jumps out when you hear someone say it.
Lastly, you’ve had a lot to do with the visual elements that go along with your releases and performances – whether it be film clips, album art or live visuals – how important are these components to Ratatat?
The visual side is very important, particularly for the live show.We want to give people a powerful and unique experience and the visual elements, video, lights, lasers, etc. help make it really exciting.
Thanks for answering my questions and enjoy your time in Australia!
Ratatat Supreme Exhalation tour:
Sunday, 23 April
Groovin The Moo, Maitland
Sunday, 24 April
Groovin The Moo, Canberra
Monday, 25 April
Groovin The Moo, Oakbank
Wednesday, 27 April
The Enmore Theatre, Sydney
Thursday 28 April
170 Russell, Melbourne
Friday 29 April
170 Russell, Melbourne
Saturday, 30 April
Groovin The Moo, Bendigo – SOLD OUT
Sunday, 1 May
Groovin The Moo, Townsville
Thursday 5 May
Metro City, Perth
Saturday, 7 May
Groovin The Moo, Bunbury
Tickets available from www.gtm.net.au