Shut up and dance! It's a mantra chanted by generations of club floor denizens. As another phase of musicians embraces dancing as self-expression, rockers letting it all hang out, learning moves and taking inspiration from forebears, the quintet Out Hud, coming to Local 506 Tuesday, April 19, is proving itself acutely clever and distinct from the pack. Out Hud comes off as equal parts archaeologists and rocket scientists, bundling into their knapsacks clumps of the fertile soil of beat-driven music: house music's frizzy pulse, rhythm blocks locked together with guitar and cello, cocooned in the echoed, dense production of reggae records.
When does homage go from revivalism to co-opting? Out Hud's particular potion elevates above direct copycat status with bass-heavy throb and guitar shimmer. They careen around that transcendent corner; clawing onto the concrete wall itself, climbing to another plane, but, but finally it's dance music in the here and now. The Indy hashed out a few details with member Phyllis Forbes while the band was on the road toward Chapel Hill. Among the roar of the highway, reggae could be heard from the stereo.
Indy: On the new record, you've switched gears somewhat, reflecting on house and disco strains. How has making the music, with a mix of live instruments and programmed/computer input changed your approach?
Forbes: It's not a conscious thing really. Our only rule is that there aren't any rules; no agenda, switching around on our instruments, everything. For me, I actually just kind of got tired of playing and carrying around a real drum kit. We try to retain the improvisational feel live, with the element of chance.
Can you describe your setup for recording and playing live and the differences between them?
Our entire record was made with stuff you can buy at Guitar Center. We're not equipment nerds and don't worry about that certain vintage organ. For us, it's never the sound of the particular instrument, it's about which ones you put together and how--putting a cello with the guitar and drum beats, for instance.
What do you find transgressive about getting people to dance rather than pumping their fist in the air or just head-bobbing/non-dancing/brooding?
Babies dance. Everybody dances sometimes. Most people are just reluctant because they're uncomfortable. People are supposed to move their bodies, it's natural, and I guess we just try to encourage that.
Your music gets accused of nodding to so many diverse influences that it could be considered derivative of older music.
I think a lot of that comes from journalists. In a way, how else can you describe music? People have to point to things. I'm always surprised. Sometimes I read something and it's things I've never heard of in my life (laughs)!
How do you defend that, and do you think people who hear Out Hud have to be well-listened in these genres to "get" your music?
I hope that's not the case, that they can find something.
How do you equate dance music with political protest, in your open letter to the president, "Dear Mr. Bush, There Are Over 100 Words For Shit And Only One For Music, F**k You, Out Hud?"
We are friends in this band, so we try to express what's bothering us as a group. We try to let these things out, about how it feels to just be a regular person feeling these things. If Bush wants to give the world a war, we prefer to give it a song.
(Earlier in the conversation, Phyllis asked me if we didn't have some famous team here. I told her UNC had just won the national title. She asked the name of the team and once informed, said "Go Tar Heels!")
Any hoops fans among you? I understand bassist Tyler Pope has now moved over to the LCD Soundsystem camp, and [LCD founder] James Murphy is a pretty infamous Duke fan....
Yeah, he's on tour with them now. Well, Rafael from Supersystem [on board] says he much prefers Carolina!