Lost Valentinos: Lost and found

25 Jan

Lost Valentinos

“A lot of people think they know the band already from their previous encounters with us, but it’s a much different thing to what they probably realise,” says frontman Nik Yiannikas of Lost Valentinos. “When people hear our new stuff they are quite surprised.”

Over the last few years the Sydney dance rockers fell off the radar following the release of their second EP Damn & Damn Again, which was released under the name The Valentinos, and produced by Nick Littlemore and Peter Mayes of Pnau. But the band didn’t take a break or stop making music. The challenges of making a record took over and a bit of bad luck ensued.

“Firstly (drummer) Daniel Stricker who’s now in the Midnight Juggernauts left the band and that slowed down the writing process because we’d always written in a band context,” Yiannikas explains. “So we started to write on a computer on our own, which is fine, but it took a bit longer to adjust.

“We recorded a lot of the album at the end of 2007. So in our minds it was going to be out a year ago, but that didn’t exactly go to plan…”

Firstly their record label, Mosquito’s Tweeter, went under half way through making the record, and then they parted ways with their manager. To top it all off, when they finished recording with UK super producer Ewan Pearson (The Rapture, M83) last year, they decided they weren’t happy with the outcome and additional work, given Pearson is based in Berlin, was a long-drawn-out process.

“We’d been fans of Ewan Pearson from afar and we were always into the electronic music he was making, so it was basically an honour to work with him,” Yiannikas says. “That and the fact he took time to come here to work on our record for very little money when he could have been doing a lot higher-profile records.

“He’s very good at what he does – very patient and meticulous with a good eye for detail, as opposed to us. We’re chaotic and a bit of shemozzle, but we’ve got a lot of energy, so those things combined worked really well.”

And the result? Cities of Gold is being released next month and it’s more dancey and Madchester-sounding than their previous work.

“Well, The Stone Roses and Happy Mondays are definitely bands that we’re very into,” Yiannikas says. “I think we were a rock band that was by association, thought of as a more dance-orientated thing, which probably wasn’t quite true, where as now we sit between rock and dance music. It probably has a lot to do with how we wrote the album, because we wrote it on the computer with programmed drums.”

Ewan Pearson coined the word Conquistadisco to describe their sound.

“It’s a bit tongue-in-cheek really – a marriage of the conquistador idea and the electronic/dance sensibilities of the music. We were exploring Inca mythology when we were recording the album. We found out that as kids we had all been into the cartoon, The Mysterious Cities of Gold, and we revisited it together and felt it was relevant to the music we were making in a loose way.”

THE PLUG Cities of Gold is out now.

[Edited version published in The Wire, The West Australian, Issue 11, 27.08.09]

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