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With hype around 'Random Access Memories' reaching fever pitch, we thought we’d revisit this 1997 feature in which Mixmag met two Frenchmen who would go on to become legends. And robots.
For most people too young to have played any part in acid house and its early 90s ripples, Daft Punk represent a year zero for dance music. They took the tough, rocky, techno sound of bands like The Chemical Brothers and gave it a four-four beat and a melodic, disco-influenced approach. The result was impossibly catchy house music that sounded great on Top Of The Pops and inspired a generation. Alexis Petridis’ March 1997 interview for Mixmag catches them at the very start of their wildfire success....
"Daft Punk have a reputation for being difficult that would shame Dave Clarke. They won’t have their photograph taken unless their faces are obscured. They ooze a bored hauteur onstage, barely moving, never smiling. They stormed out of a press conference at the prestigious Transmusicalles festival when someone asked them a “stupid” question. They sat in attitude-laden silence on the Heavenly Social tour bus, while the Chemicals and co got wasted and auctioned off pills. Another magazine described them as “surly”. Their press officer tells me their last interviewer gave up and went home after 20 minutes of blank stares and monosyllabic answers.
... Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo found themselves in the same classroom 10 years ago. They were 12, and, according to Thomas, “quite lazy”. They started skiving off, hanging around record shops and cinemas, devouring old Beach Boys albums and “all kinds of movies: teen movies, horror movies, cult movies, Andy Warhol movies”. Watching them together it’s clear how their friendship lasted out the decade. Thomas is lanky and chatty, ambling about with that expression – “Huh?” – and a hopeless stoner’s stroll. Guy-Man is shorter, truculent, given to silly voices and kid’s pranks. They’re knackered, but having fun: like you would if you’d just made an incredible record and were zooming round the world with your best mate.
By the time they were 17 they’d formed Darlin’, a ramshackle indie band that lasted six months and released one single: a pidgin English Beach Boys pastiche called ‘Cindy So Loud’. Guy-Man, the singer, treats us to a mercifully brief screech of wobbly falsetto, then says he saw a copy in a collector’s shop for £15. Thomas looks absolutely horrified.
Correctly guessing the world wasn’t ready for a Gallic surf-pop combo, the pair started listening to The Orb and Andy Weatherall and checking out the Parisian rave scene.
Taken as they were by the tunes rumbling from Laurent Garnier’s turntables, Thomas and Guy-Man couldn’t entirely forsake their love of rock. The two of them hatched a plan. What if they could combine everything they loved into one fierce, crazy, fucked-up noise? What if they made tracks as influenced by 60s pop and 70s rock as they were by disco and DJ Sneak – what Guy-Man called “melting music”? What would that sound like?..."