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Q&A With Evan Mast of Ratatat
Masters of Melody
by Matt Crawford on Mar 23, 2007
Following the release of their latest album Classics in the summer of 2006, Ratatat continue their conquest to spread their super-charged instrumentals and Dirty South remixes with a sold out concert at Bimbo’s on March 30th. Producer-extraordinaire Evan Mast spoke with SF Station during a phone interview from a tour stop in Newport, KY.
SF Station (SFS): Your San Francisco concert is one of the only concerts on your tour that sold out in advance. Do you have a big following in the Bay Area?
Evan Mast (EM): The shows have always been really good there, but I guess maybe the venue is a little small. I also have family in the Bay Area. My parents and my grandparents live there now, so I’ve spent a lot of time there over the years growing up.
SFS: Did you grow up in the Bay Area?
EM: No, I grew up in Cleveland, Ohio, but I would visit my grandparents in the summer for a couple of weeks. My parents moved to Oakland when I was 17.
SFS: What do you do when you have free time when on tour stops in the Bay Area?
EM: I like to go to Taqueria Cancun and Amoeba. Those are my two main stops.
SFS: Do you get veggies or meat at the taqueria?
EM: I usually get chicken, but if I’m feeling like my stomach is strong, I might go for pork.
SFS: You’re a big rap fan. What’s the hottest thing out right now?
EM: Lil Wayne is pretty on top of his game right now. I’ve been kind of frustrated with rap for the last six months or a year. I feel like it’s gotten pretty stale. Production has kind of taken a dive, and I haven’ heard any new beats that are really groundbreaking and pushing things forward.
SFS: Did listening to hip hop influence you to start making music?
EM: Yeah, being a fan of hip hop, I just wanted to learn how to make a beat. That is how our remixes came out. I was just trying to practice making beats.
SFS: Do you consider the original songs you create with Ratatat hip hop?
EM: I think there are definitely elements of hip hop, but it’s a mixture of a bunch of different things.
SFS: What else contributes to your creative process?
EM: I listen to a lot of classic rock, like Cream, the Rolling Stones, the Kinks, and stuff like that. I’m into loads of different kinds of music. I go through weird phases of being in different styles of music.
SFS: When you make remixes, how do you select the songs?
EM: We’re limited to what we can get a capellas for, so we have to dig through record stores and find hip hop singles with a capellas. For the first remix CD, we couldn’t find many a capellas, so there is some stuff on there that I didn’t really want to remix, but it was all that we could find. The second remix album is a little bit more fitted to our tastes. The rappers are all pretty good.
SFS: You have a song on your latest LP with 70 different tracks. Is that normal for your songs?
EM: Yeah, most of the songs on the new album have between 60 and 80 tracks. There is a lot of layering.
SFS: It sounds like that could get a little confusing.
EM: Yeah, it totally does get confusing. We have to find new ways to organize it. The recording program allows us to color code, so we can make all of the guitar parts one color. That makes it a little easier to keep track of, but when we started mixing the record it got pretty crazy.
SFS: Do you prefer recording or touring?
EM: I really like both. When we were finishing the record I was anxious to go on tour, but now after we have been touring for about nine months, I’m kind of looking forward to recording again. But, touring for this record has been fun and our response in the United States has been really awesome. People know the songs now.
SFS: And it gives you an excuse to get a good burrito every once in awhile.
EM: Yeah, exactly.
Ratatat performs on March 30th at Bimbo’s with 120 Days and Despot. Door open at 8pm and the concert starts at 9pm. Tickets are sold out.
by Matt Crawford on Mar 23, 2007