Hefner return this month with a new album "Dead Media". Dropping the guitars out of the mix and replacing it with Analogue synths they've come out sounding like Kraftwerk with lyrics. We caught up with frontman Darren to discuss why the guitars have been binned and to find out about his worries of turning 30.
Q: The new album "Dead Media" has seen you moving on from the traditional Hefner sound. Was it concerted effort to avoid repeating yourselves?
A: Its moved...it might not have moved on...it might have even moved back!!! I tried my hardest not to do the same thing twice and I think the punters are a little perplexed this time round. I think that after "Wheel Of The City" the fans thought it would be the same again but with an orchestra...and I guess that's the way band traditionally tend to go - just progressively get in there a little bit bigger each time round.
Half way through the record it was starting to be "should we put a different name on the cover of this record" but I think actually when it came down to choosing the 12 or so tracks it surprised me how much of it is still quite song based i.e. the lyrics and the tunes.
Q: How was it for you venturing into the murky world of analogue synths?
A: It seems strange to me now that I ever played guitar in a way because I guess I started listening to Mouse on Mars and things like that. I always assumed that to make that music it was quite a black art...the idea of understanding Midi and things like that. I just like these ideas of boxes with flashing lights and when you just start turning these knobs its really addictive and its really really fun.
It also suddenly makes sense to me why these people like Daft Punk spend so long over an album because you can sit there with one of these machines for a few hours before you decide that the sound is right. It will take me a lot to make me pick up a guitar at the moment!!!
Q: Were there any recurring themes cropping up lyrically this time?
A: I guess with the last couple of album I almost contrived a theme before writing the album and this time I didn't do that. None the less when the album was finished it did seem to have a them of some sort. That theme tends to be of growing up and making big decisions in your life. It had a lot to do with me turning 30 last year so perhaps it was my "worrying about turning 30" album.
Q: I always get the sense with Hefner that they look back to a glorious musical past and worry about the future of rock & roll?
A: I really don't like any contemporary guitar bands. I don't what a band with guitars could do to make me interested at the moment which is largely to do with having these instruments around the house. I'm still interested in songs but I tend to listen to old stuff...with the contemporary stuff it tends to be the likes of Plone, Boards Of Canada and I'd always by something by Will Oldham.
I can't imagine how nice the guy from Starsailor would have to be to make like that shit!!! Is it just me or do they not sound like U2? Nobody really wants to say the thing that is so obvious so everyone's like its a bit Tim Buckley isn't it - its fucking Bono!!!
Q: What do you think would happen if Hefner did a Pulp and wrote a "Common People"?
A: I don't think I necessarily want to be a pop star but I do feel that I would be quite proud of the achievement of writing a pop hit. When I first started the band, obviously I chose the band to be alternative or a bit different from the norm, you actually assume that you could easily write a pop song if you wanted to. "Oh I could write one of them if I wanted to, that must be easy" and I guess I've had a couple of attempts at that now and its really isn't.
Earning money from music you would hope that making the "Common People" hit would allow you to make the "Kid A" album. That's the idea that one thing would help the other.
Q: A lot of your fans see you as an outsider figure. Do you feel the same way?
I really don't see myself as an outsider to society - I have a girlfriend, a mortgage and a dog - but I do see myself as an outsider to the music industry. I have a theory about the music industry and I've never said this before in an interview. I've got a theory that anybody in the music industry - if they did that level of productivity or that level of efficiency in any other industry they would lose their job.
I used to work for the NHS and I reckon if a label manager managed a hospital ward as efficiently as he runs a record label he would lose his job within days. The general level of efficiency in the music industry is down 80% on other profession but its ok because its relative and everyone in the music industry is similarly the same so nobody notices.
"Dead Media" is out now on Too Pure