What better way to prepare for the release of your next album than to live its title.
Jazzy electronic duo Groove Armada have done just that since finishing Goodbye Country (Hello Nightclub) this summer.
"We've done all three albums in the countryside, but we won't be doing it anymore," multi-instrumentalist Andy Cato said last month from a resort in sunny Ibiza, Spain, where he and partner Tom Findlay were in the middle of a
two-week stay. After completing the LP, which hits shelves Tuesday (September 11), they spent the rest of the summer spinning in clubs and vacationing all over Europe.
"The phone doesn't ring and nobody stops by for a beer," Cato said of his experience recording in the English countryside. "You can really concentrate and make deep music because your mood doesn't get broken. The downside is that you don't get to see your girlfriend or mates for a year."
Yes, it took Groove Armada an entire year to record Goodbye Country (Hello Nightclub), the follow-up to 1999's breakthrough Vertigo, which featured the "shaking that ass" single "I See You Baby." That's because, rather than like most of their contemporaries sample the music of other artists, they made their own.
"We didn't want to make it more live and go jazzy and lose the toughness you get from sampled grooves, but we thought there's no point in going through our records from the '60s and '70s when we got great musicians who are fresh," Cato said. "We just sampled them so we could still keep the same sort of looped feeling. It was an exhausting experience. We had to build a studio first that could record drums and strings and guitars."
Cato played some trombone and keyboards on the record, and Findlay added trumpet and bass guitar work. The group's nine-member touring band also played a major role, along with some guest vocalists, including folksinger
Richie Havens and Brooklyn, New York, rapper Jeru the Damaja.
Jeru raps on the album's groovy opening tune, "Suntoucher." "Superstylin'," the LP's first single, features Mike Daniel (a.k.a. M.A.D.), Groove Armada's live show MC.
Goodbye Country (Hello Nightclub) is more of a musical hodge-podge than Vertigo or 1998's U.K.-only Northern Star, dabbling in genres like dancehall and trip-hop rather than delivering big-beat anthems like "I See You Baby" or "If Everybody Looked the Same."
"Whoever takes time to listen to it properly will get an enjoyable hour and 10 minutes," Cato said. "If you listen to it as a whole, it has a Pink Floyd feel."
Groove Armada will promote the album by bringing their live band back to the States for a November tour. Dates have not been announced.
Meanwhile, Cato and Findlay are already looking ahead to future projects. They are mixing an after-hours compilation called Another Late Night, which Cato said would be a similar idea to their Back to Mine series contribution. That album is due in January.
Both artists are also pursuing solo projects. "Before Groove Armada started, I was doing my own thing," Cato said. "I would like to get a record label going and put some stuff out on it. Tom has now got his own studio and he wants to do that thing."