Monsters and Dust

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MEN doing makeup
O'Neill preps in the dressing room at Berlin nightclub, Chicago IL, July 12 2009
Photograph by David Robert Elliott


M&D: I wanted to ask you a little bit about your thoughts on dance music in general.... I've been thinking a lot about music, not what you would think of as rock, but music that is indended as dance music, and the kind of potential it has for freedom, and the ability for people to shed whatever stereotypes, or class/race/gender/whatever prejudice that might be attached to them, and blend together in this kind of temporary utopian setting. I was wondering what you thought about that and how that ties into your lyrics and content of the songs.

GBT: I think that live music is an opportunity for people to have a direct response to what is being performed. There's this intense energy exchange that happens between people that are sharing this space together and this music, and feeling something in their bodies and being able to give back, and that's what's really incredible.

JD: It's an amazing challenge to create a space that's positive and free so people can feel like that, you know? I think it always feels like a real success to us if we're in a place where people are maybe still in the beginning, but by the end they're totally free, and that means the right energy is going into it.

GBT: Especially when it's people who've never heard what we do before, or don't know us, and then by the end of the show they're just totally there with us and dancing.

MO: A lot of our songs are actually kind of long — we have a few that are six minutes. But I think it's really cool because we try to provide a space in the song — I mean, they're all pop songs — but they expand beyond that into...almost like a DJ set or something, where it seems like songs are mixing together.

JD: It may seem like it but they're not really...don't ever think that they are. (laughter)

MO: I feel like in those moments, there's a space where you can lose yourself in the song and hopefully people don't think “Man, this song is really long,” but rather, “Whoa, that was crazy; I didn't even realize how long that was.”

JD: At the New Museum show [New York, 12 June 2009], the lighting guy was like, “Their songs are long” to the sound engineer, and the sound engineer said, “Yeah, duh, that's why they're cool.” (laughter)