Montreal-born duo Chromeo are in the midst of working on their fourth album, the follow-up to 2010's Business Casual. But how far along they are on the yet-to-be-titled disc, due the middle of next year, is a matter of debate. A recent interview put the figure at 45 percent, but David Macklovitch tells Rolling Stone that is not the case.
"We might’ve said 20 [percent]," he tells us. But the record, which they are producing themselves in New York, does have songs at this point.
"They’re at a very embryonic stage, but they exist, and we have an idea of what they’re gonna be," Macklovitch says. "The way we do it, we’ll start with, like, a one-minute version of the song, just a top line and a chorus. After that we can go back and expand, but we’re working on these little minute-and-a-half skeletal versions of the track."
One thing they've noticed is a larger sound. They're working to create "really cool dancefloor bangers that also challenge us from a writing perspective," Macklovitch says.
"[It's] bigger writing, bigger choruses. Funk can be very modal, but then stuff that we’re also very advanced into – I want to say Eighties and Seventies pop – has songwriting, so we pay more attention to that on this record."
Macklovitch and musical partner Patrick Gemayel are turning to some of the biggest names of that period, including ELO, ABBA and the Bee Gees, for songwriting inspiration. "I always hated the Bee Gees and Abba, but now you listen to it and some of that shit is dark, it’s cool," Macklovitch says. "There’s, like, weird shit in there, but you have to extract it from the schmaltz."
Among the tracks that make up their best-of playlists for the two titans of the disco era are "Nights on Broadway," "Tragedy," "Jive Talkin'" and "You Should Be Dancing" from the brothers Gibb. From ABBA they favor "Money Money Money" and "Gimme Gimme Gimme (A Man After Midnight)." "Kind of weird stuff like that," Macklovitch says.
In the current EDM scene house has been a big buzz word, but on a large scale level no one has fully tapped into the disco revolution. "We've got three albums of that," Macklovitch points out.
But the most recent of those came out pre- the likes of David Guetta and Calvin Harris helping take over pop. The time might be right for Chromeo to break out commercially on this next album.
Macklovitch says that's not something the duo are concerned about. "We don’t think in those terms," he says. "We set artistic challenges for ourselves, and whatever happens, happens."
He admits that could lead to wider success as at their own shows Chromeo are seeing audiences catch up to them.
"What’s weird now is the songs that were, like, singles on our last album kind of took a year to catch on," he says. "A year after we put them out as singles, now they‘ve become some of the biggest songs in the set."