If Giorgio Moroder and the Pet Shop Boys had a DNA test on Jeremy Kyle, we’re pretty sure it would prove that Wirral’s Dass Unser are their legitimate heirs. Their glo-fi synth pop marries razor sharp riffs and caustic tales of love, loss and loneliness – and weave lines like ‘laughing with your photographer friends’ into brittle pieces of electro-pop poetry.
Try Kings and Queens (on iTunes) for a glimpse into their world of squelchy synths and Teutonic beats – and you’ll agree: Liverpool is beginning to wake up and smell the Korg sequencers. At last. We speak to singer, John Lippitt, ahead of this Saturday’s show (7pm, inside) at FestEvol.
Your grasp of German is impressive. It’s from the middle of a sentence so it doesn’t mean anything out of context. We lifted it from a block of text on the back of a Propaganda album. But that’s the only time we’ve nicked anything from a German electronic band, OK?
What’s your manifesto?
It’s time to get down.
Is melancholia the default state of the best synthpop?
Melancholia is the default state for all the best music. We’re just drawn to it really, we can’t help it. Even when we make joyful stuff we add a tinge of gloom despite ourselves – we’ve just written a nice bouncy tune, very catchy, 130bpm, and we’ve gone and called it ‘Love Decay’.
Does Liverpool still prefer four lads with guitars? Or is electronica clawing its way into our hearts?
There was definitely a time when we didn’t fit, and it’s definitely more acceptable to go on stage with keyboards and a laptop these days, although we still get quizzical looks from sound engineers when we say we don’t have a drummer. In the past we always thought we would have done better if we’d been from Manchester or Sheffield maybe, somewhere with a more solid electronic heritage, but we don’t feel that now.
It’s strange because there was such a strong dance music culture in Liverpool, but it didn’t really cross over to electronic sounds on the live music scene, with the odd honourable exception such as Ladytron. Now you’ve got people like the Tea Street Band creating that club/rave atmosphere with live instruments, which is nice.
Who are your musical friends?
Do you mean real friends or Facebook friends? We’ve got lots of virtual musical friends, but they wouldn’t recognise us in the street. Social media has been great for us because we’re not the best at talking to people in real life. Mashemon are lovely, they’ve been very kind to us. And some promoters too – Harvest Sun, Evol… We might make some friends at Festevol if we can pluck up the courage to speak to anyone.
Tell us about your muse – where does it come from?
Gary gets inspiration when he’s not listening to music – when he’s somewhere quiet, doing nothing. Paul’s muse is his guitar, he’s in love with it. Paul writes songs on his acoustic then Gary and I splurge electronics all over them. I’m inspired by synth sounds; I’ll just sit with a keyboard and tinker until a sound grabs me. Some sounds just tell you what to play.
We don’t really sit together and ‘jam’. We tend to start songs off individually, and share ideas over the internet. The hard part is when one of us has been working on something for ages, decides to share it with the others and they pull it to bits. There’s a certain degree of sulking involved, and a lot of compromising, but we always end up with something that’s better than any of us could do on our own.
You’re driving home, late at night – what’s your perfect soundtrack?
Whatever’s on Radio 4. The shipping forecast’s always nice. Have to watch you don’t nod off at the wheel though. (Oh god, this makes us sound really pretentious but we couldn’t think what else to say)
Seven words to describe yourselves
It doesn’t mean anything out of context.
FestEvol Gardens part 2, Aug 11 (4pm-2am, £10)