After making the film festival rounds all year, Shut Up and Play the Hits – the documentary about the final days of LCD Soundsystem – will hit theaters across the U.S. on July 18th in a series of one-night-engagements at movie houses. Rolling Stone has the exclusive premiere of the film’s poster, as well as a clip of the band performing “Dance Yrself Clean” that you can watch below.
Brian Hiatt spoke to LCD frontman James Murphy for a Q&A in the new issue of Rolling Stone. Here’s more from their conversation.
What did you learn about yourself watching the movie?
Other than that I drink a lot onstage and I get progressively drunker? That’s thing one. I also learned that it’s good not to totally control things. I mean, to make a movie is different than just living your life. When you’re living your life and you do something, it disappears. Your friend might be like, “Don’t say, don’t do that, that’s lame.” So you can just maybe not say that next time. But when you’re making a movie, if you say something that’s embarrassing, you’re faced with a very important choice which most human beings never have to make, and that choice is: Edit it out or leave it in?
Like, I wonder how many people can handle “edit it out or leave it in” as a question. I would say that most people – sane people, and myself at a certain different time in my life – would be like, “Edit it out.” But “leave it in” is a really interesting thing. [Laughs] I feel like there’s a couple things in the movie where I just fucking cringe, and I will cringe and I will hide my head in my hands for the rest of my life whenever these things happen in the film. But it’s interesting to just leave it in.
My introduction for Arcade Fire. Because I have this thing onstage, the 15-year-old in me who’s like, “You can’t say anything into the microphone that’s going to elicit a big cheer.” Because that’s just like fascist and weird. All my life, whenever I go see shows, and someone’s like, “Yeah, how y’all doing tonight,” I wanna just fucking leave. I’m like, I feel like a fucking moron.
So I turned to introduce them, and I realized that what I was about to say was, “Ladies and gentlemen, Arcade Fire,” which I knew would be, you know, tantamount to, “How y’all doing tonight?” in terms of response, and I couldn’t do it. I just want to go and whisper in my ear – I want to put a little time machine monitor, where I can just be like, “Just say, ‘Arcade Fire.’ Just say it, quietly. Just do it. It’s okay. The whipping-crowd-into-a-frenzy-police aren’t going to come and put you in jail. Instead I just went on and on. And it gave us the title of the film, ’cause Win’s just like, “Shut up, and play the hits.” [Laughs]
You’ve been spending a lot of your post-LCD time DJ-ing. What do you like about it?
Um, it keeps me in my place. It keeps you in your place, unless you’re like an ego DJ and you put your arms up.
Do you have a no-arms-up rule?
Not really, but the idea of like, standing onstage and DJ-ing and being like, “YEAH, FUCK YEAH,” seems a really laughable. It’s like winning a chess game and kicking the table over and being like, “I’M FUCKING HARD AS NAILS!” It’s like, you’re not that tough. It’s chess!
What do you make of the current boom in dance music?
I don’t know if I can stand reading another article in some financial magazine about how there’s millions and millions of dollars in electronic dance music and how Best Buy is gonna have a dance music festival with a bunch of people I’ve never heard of with stupid names.There’s just this like sudden glut – it’s sort of like grunge. There’s suddenly all of this money, whereas before the explosion of indie rock, you’d been in a band because you’re an idiot and that’s what you did. But then you could suddenly make money being in a band, and then everybody was in a band. It used to be that a lot of people didn’t make much money DJ-ing. It really was not like a super lucrative career, and a lot of people still don’t, but some people really make a lot of money, and the whole game completely changes.
A major-label A&R guy said it’s all happening “because guitars are dead.’ That’s the stupidest fucking thing I’ve ever heard. It’s just the normal flow of things. It’s like, music gets boring. Music goes through these cycles. It’s like, what has come out lately that you’re really thrilled about? When you can’t answer that, then there’s some underground sub-genre – which has dubious merits and maybe a couple of good people – is gonna come rising up. And I think that dubstep is different than the Euro-pop radio stuff. In fact, I think they’re kind of in conflict. Which is always what you need.
Do you think LCD Soundsystem had a chance of having a radio hit?
I think Arcade Fire has a better chance of that because they’re more triumphal. So if one of their triumphal jams kind of hits the right mark with the populace, then, kaboom, there you go. If it’s in the right movie, you know. I feel like we could have done that, too, but I think, to a certain degree, it would be a little bit of a misunderstanding or miscommunication between parties [Laughs] But I think pop music always requires some sort of a misunderstanding. You know what I mean? ‘Cause, like, the song that moved you most as a kid, you really were wrong about half the lyrics. And you thought it was about something else.
You’re recording new music all the time. What name will you put it out under?
I don’t know. It feels very arbitrary and weird. It’s, you know, it’s like if I decided to change my name to “Plate.” If I was just going around introducing myself as Plate everyone would be like, “I thought you were James.” I’d be like, “Yeah, but I just want to be Plate now,” and they’re like, “That’s weird,” and I’m like, “Yeah, just go with it for me and humor me.” Which sounds like a crazy person, so I’m just willfully ignoring that decision-making process.