"In Sydney there was this bridge that we went to and it was crazy the number of bats that I saw. And they’re massive too! That was the thing, like, we have tiny bats here in New York City – literally the size of a mouse – but the ones that I saw there, they were like, ‘Wow! That could actually pick up, you know, a pizza!’"
"Did you mind if I just put on some headphones?” enquires Miike Snow's frontman Andrew Wyatt, ever so politely. After about 30 seconds, he returns to the phone and describes his skull candy: “These are monster Miike Snow headphones.” Do they reference Miike Snow's band mascot, the mythical jackalope? “Yeah, they've got antlers on 'em [pauses]. No, I'm just kidding.” Coming soon to a merch stand near you.
A siren sounds in the background and Wyatt explains he's currently situated in New York City. “And I'm sitting in my own apartment, which rarely happens. I feel really good to be here.” On whether he gets house sitters in while on tour, Wyatt shares, “I have been doing a little bit of the letting friends stay for free for the last few years, but I'm thinking about just keeping it sacred for a little while.”
When asked whether people still think Miike Snow is one person, Wyatt admits, “Oh, quite a few people do. The farther we go from home. I think it's a phenomenon that a lot of people are still learning about. I mean, people have recently called me 'Miike'.” Wyatt ain't kidding about Miike Snow as “phenomenon”. The band's management comes up with some cracking promotional ideas. Is their management team American (like Wyatt) or Swedish (like the other two-thirds of the trio, Christian Karlsson and Pontus Winnberg)? “Ah, British,” Wyatt laughs.
Have you met Jean Noel (aka The Perfect Human)? He stars in the music videos for Paddling Out and The Wave. A prototype on miikesnow.com highlights Noel's enviable attributes: “Stoic nose”, “Mozart's shoes”, “Erected nipples”, “Massive cock”… “Oh, yeah, that's all coming from the twisted mind of our director [Andreas Nillson],” Wyatt chuckles. All kidding aside, although Noel “was mostly the director's idea”, Wyatt elaborates, “it was kind of filtered through some concepts that we like to talk about in the studio, which at the time was genetic engineering and surveillance and, like, Google gathering all your information and selling it to somebody without you knowing about it or even consenting to it – turning on your camera in your computer, all these questions, which, you know, we're getting close to the Brave New World that Aldous Huxley talks about. We're not sure if it has dystopian implications, but it may… The thing that's kind of comforting about it all is that there's so much data being collected that – who knows? I don't see one guy at the controls pulling the switches and, if there is, he's got too much to worry about: he's got more to worry about than a band called Miike Snow.”
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Many extra musicians were called into the studio to help elevate Happy To You and while Wyatt admits, “I dunno if I can give you an exact number,” he has a red hot go: “We had Thomas Hedlund from Phoenix playing drums on a couple of songs, we had string players, we had brass players, we had a drum corps – we did hire some guys from the Swedish military to do that stuff, so they were actually a military band. We had twelve to fifteen different people besides ourselves playing on the album.”
When asked to identify his favourite track, Wyatt offers, “Speaking of the military band, I love Bavarian #1. That to me is the song on this album that – I looked in my iTunes yesterday and most of the songs have no plays, a couple of the songs have one play and that song has six plays so I must like that song better than the other ones. I've listened to it six whole times since we've put out the album!” After listening to the same tracks over and over during the recording process, it's understandable he'd want to take a break from that set of tunes for a while. “Yeah and 'for a while' means a decade or more,” he jokes.
It seems as if everybody's queuing up to remix Miike Snow tracks these days and Wyatt weighs in, “Just 'cause somebody does a remix that is well known in a certain genre doesn't mean that the remix is gonna be special. So I think sometimes we field a lot of them and then we pick the best ones. I mean, Christian's got a lot of friends like Brodinski who never do remixes for other people, it's very hard to get him to do stuff for other people and he just presented us with this remix [of The Wave] that was great.” When asked whether he feels the big name remixers sometimes leave too much of their own signature on their interpretation, Wyatt says, “Often the young guys who are really hungry will put more effort into it, because they see Miike Snow as a way of getting their thing known – and we've had some big remixes, let's face it. So I think when those guys put a lot of effort into it, often you have better results… but sometimes people who have huge names, to do a remix, for them, is not gonna do anything for their career so they don't really put that much effort into it.”
He also somehow finds the time to supply guest vocals on tracks such as the gorgeous Mark Ronson & The Business Intl's Somebody To Love Me, where Wyatt's vocal sits impressively alongside the one and only Boy George. “The last guest vocal slot that I did? Oh, Bruno Mars. It's stuff for his new record. That was great. I love Bruno, he's awesome. I sang background vocals on one of his songs, which was really fun and it's cool it gets this weird, like, Laurel Canyon vibe going or something.”
Miike Snow's last Splendour In The Grass appearance was at the festival's temporary Woodfordia site in 2010 and Wyatt recalls, “It was pretty mental. I can only imagine what this one's gonna be like. I'm really excited for it. That was a beautiful setting, I remember. Australia has great trees.” What did he think of our birdlife? “Well I saw quite a lot of batlife. In Sydney there was this bridge that we went to and it was crazy the number of bats that I saw. And they're massive too! That was the thing, like, we have tiny bats here in New York City – literally the size of a mouse – but the ones that I saw there, they were like, 'Wow! That could actually pick up, you know, a pizza!' The tourist board wouldn't want that happening, it's a long enough flight as it is,” he chuckles.
Although Wyatt reckons “touring is 95 per cent hassle and five per cent hopefully joy,” he's learning to adapt. “Funnily enough, this year my body's held up much better; I think it's used to it. I think I know how to manage it a little bit better and I guess I'm just in a little bit better shape overall and I feel like that makes a huge difference when you're touring. And you learn tricks, you know. I try to pick hotels that have swimming pools so that I can go swimming.” Is that where album track, Paddling Out, came from? “No,” he laughs. “'Paddling IN' came from that, but it didn't make the album.”